[CONTENT NOTE: descriptions of anti-gay violence and horrific injuries; no graphic images here, but there are at the Washington Post and Go Fund Me links.]
Via my brilliant, brave and amazing friend Niki (who has a fantastic new blog at The Orbit that you should definitely check out) comes a story so fucking sad and enraging I am having tremendous difficulty writing about it. I’m shaking while I type. Also, my screen looks very blurry—there must be a lot of dust up in here.
A month ago, [Marquez] Tolbert, 21, and his boyfriend Anthony Gooden Jr., 23, were jolted out of sleep by the feeling of boiling water splashing across their torsos, faces and limbs. Gooden’s mother’s boyfriend, Martin Blackwell, stood over them, pouring the water, they say.
For a moment, Tolbert had no idea what could have provoked the alleged attack. Then Blackwell allegedly yanked him off the mattress and yelled, “Get out of my house with all that gay,” Tolbert recalled to WSBTV.
It was not Blackwell’s apartment. He didn’t even live there.
According to an incident report from the College Park Police Department, Blackwell told police that he was angry at the sight of the two men together.
“They were stuck together like two hot dogs … so I poured a little hot water on them and help them out,” he said to police, according to the incident report. “… They’ll be alright. It was just a little hot water.”
No, you monstrous fucking asshole, this was not “a little hot water” and no, these men will never be all right.
Now, Tolbert and Gooden are in the agonizing process of recovering from their second and third degree burns. Tolbert spent 10 days in the hospital undergoing surgery to repair the skin on his back. Gooden was hospitalized for five weeks, according to Project Q Atlanta.
[Tolbert] must now wear compression garments 23 hours a day for the next two years…and is attending weekly counseling and physical therapy sessions to deal with his emotional and physical scars. It’s difficult for him to go outside, because sunlight exacerbates the pain of his burns.
He told WSBTV “The pain doesn’t let you sleep. It’s excruciating, 24 hours a day. It doesn’t go anywhere, it doesn’t dial down. It’s just there.”
Gooden, who was burned even more severely, was in a medically-induced coma for several weeks…more than 60 percent of his body was burned, and he had to undergo skin graft surgery to repair damage to his face, neck, back, arms, chest and head.
Does that sound “all right” to you?
Recovery from second and third degree burns is a very long, difficult, painful (both physically and emotionally), expensive journey. There are Go Fund Me accounts set up for both of these men (REMINDER: graphic images of the men’s injuries at these links). Please, please donate whatever you can afford to give, and/or share this story far and wide.
I can only formulate two observations at the moment.
First, just yesterday, before I heard this story, I was commiserating with PZ over at Pharyngula that yes indeed, people really suck.
PZ nails exactly why I cannot identify as a humanist. Humans as a species are fucking terrible. Call it misanthropy, call it whatever you want, but I see it as an observable, evidence-based fact. And I don’t assume intentional malice to conclude this.
That said, I love and care deeply about many, many actual humans. And this may sound…odd? But giving up hope for us as a species has actually been liberating for me in a positive way. It helped me prioritize finding and spreading joy in the here-and-now, and doing what I can to ease the suffering of sentient beings while I’m alive. (Ironically, such efforts can have the side effect of giving other people hope.)
IOW, Martin Blackwell is Exhibit No. 7,409,586,791 in support of the motion that humans are truly fucking terrible.
The second thing is that Anthony Gooden Jr. and Marquez Tolbert are Exhibit Nos. 9,147,452,372,921 and 9,147,452,372,922, respectively, in support of the motion that the United States needs single payer healthcare RIGHT FUCKING NOW GODDAMMIT THE END. (Yes I’m glaring at you, Hillary Clinton.)