Family says gay sailor killed by closeted serviceman in fear of being outed

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August ProvostAn aunt of August Provost III, a gay sailor who was killed on guard duty at Camp Pendleton in San Diego last month, suggested that that her nephew may have been murdered by another closeted sailor for fear of being outed.

Rose Roy, of Beaumont, the sister of Provost’s father, said in a phone interview Tuesday, July 14 that she’s “not at liberty” to identify the source who provided the information to the family. But Roy said the source told the family Provost had a heated argument with the suspect a week before his murder, and that the sailor now being held as a person of interest by the Navy has a history of mental illness.

“This guy went the extra mile to make sure that my nephew would never be able to speak about his [the killer’s] sexuality,” Roy said. “My nephew died for reasons other than what the military is saying.”

This new wrinkle in the story marks a departure from allegations that Provost was the victim of a hate crime because he was gay.

I have been reluctant to cover this story (except when it first happened) because I didn’t want to jump on the bandwagon with everyone else and label Provost’s murder a hate crime until all the facts were known. I think there is tendency, albeit an understandable one, that the first thought we have any time an LGBT person is murdered, or dies under mysterious circumstances, is that it must be a hate crime. I think most of us are hardwired to think that way considering the hate and violence our community has and continues to endure. I think we are even more predisposed to think so in this case, because the military is involved. A military that practices open discrimination against the LGBT community in the form of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

In this case the allegations made by the LGBT community and family of August Provost are at odds with statements made by the military in an investigation that is still ongoing, with a person of interest in custody. The military’s refusal to be more open about the incident during an internal investigation has fueled the fires of a coverup. And as details continue to trickle out about the case, from other sailors and Provost’s family members, it becomes less and less clear what the truth really is. Is it a military trying to cover its ass? Or is it a family and community so wracked with grief that the only way to assuage it is to lash out a known enemy?

I think it would be wise to exercise caution, particularly in cases where not all the facts are known, before assuming any crime is a hate crime.  Sometimes it is blatantly obvious. Sometimes it is not. In those cases we need to be more careful. I would rather not arm our detractors with the ammunition they need to repeal (the hopefully soon to be passed) hate crimes laws because many of the cases were ultimately deemed frivolous or unfounded.

Post by ILO on 07/17/09 at 2:27 pm