’Corrective Rape?’ :: Woman Alleges Homophobic Slurs, Sexual Assault After Leaving Orlando Gay Club
An unidentified woman claimed that she was subjected to rape by three men in the early morning hours of Aug. 25 after she left a gay night spot. The alleged victim claimed that the assailants uttered anti-lesbian epithets and one of them told her, "I’ll show you how a real man feels," an Aug. 27 posting at Click Orlando.com reported.
Click Orlando, which is affiliated with local new channel WKMG, provided further details, reporting that the woman had left Club Revolution on South Bumby Ave. in Orlando on foot. The article also said that the alleged attackers were in a "silver colored vehicle" when they began to abuse the woman verbally, shouting epithets such as "dyke" at her. The woman claimed that two of the men subdued her and removed some of her clothing. The third man then raped her, saying, "I’ll show you how a real man feels."
Police are treating the purported attack as a possible hate crime, the site reported.
The woman’s story was hazy on geographical detail, the story said, with the woman saying that she recalled an overpass along the route she had taken as she walked. Moreover, she was unable to offer much in the way of physical descriptions. However, the man who drove the vehicle was clad in a black T-short and wore khaki shorts, she said.
The lack of detail prompted skepticism from readers.
"IF it happened the way it is reported, I would agree" that the alleged attack was a hate crime, one reader posted. "But right now just too many unanswered questions to convince me that is the case."
Chimed in another, "I’m no detective and don’t play one on TV but this story sounds like a Tawana Brawley special to me."
That respondent was referring to the African American woman who was 15 years old in November, 1987, when she was found in a garbage bag, smeared with feces and with racial epithets scrawled on her skin. Brawley claimed to have suffered gang rape at the hands of several white men, including a police officer and a pubic prosecutor, but a grand jury dismissed her claims as fabrications. The public prosecutor later sued Brawley.
The case generated considerable controversy. A medical exam at the time did not turn up indications of sexual assault, and Brawley did not seem to have suffered the sort of exposure her story suggested.
The GLBT community has seen examples of fabricated anti-gay violence. In April 2011, University of North Carolina student Quinn Matney claimed that while walking around the Chapel Hill campus one night, an assailant seized his arm and pressed a searing hot metal implement into his wrist, telling him, ""Here’s a taste of hell, you fucking fag." The burn was authentic, but authorities later determined that the attack was not, and concluded that Matney had burned himself.
In another instance, a American lesbian blogger in Syria, Amina Arraf, disappeared after posting a series of comments on the political situation in Damascus. The young woman’s apparent kidnapping sparked concerns worldwide, until it was revealed that Arraf was fictional, the creation of an American man named Tom MacMaster.
But the unnamed woman in Orlando had at least one defender; a female reader weighed in on the article posted at Orlando Click, noting, "There is an overpass at the corner of Bumby and Anderson. She was thrown to the ground just maybe her memory isn’t straight because of that."
If the allegations turn out to be true, they could represent an American version of "corrective rape," an all-too-common practice in South Africa in which heterosexual men seek to "convert" or "cure" lesbians --or women perceived as lesbians -- by forcing sexual intercourse onto them.
At least one high-profile victim has died at the hands of rapists seeking to "correct" her sexual orientation. In April, 2008, female soccer star and open lesbian Eudy Simelane was attacked by three men who raped and murdered her. The men stabbed Simelane 25 times -- an instance of "overkill" that is all too familiar in cases of bias-driven hate crimes targeting GLBTs.
In 2009, Millicent Gaika, a resident of a South African township called Gugulethu, near Cape Town, was headed home at about 11:00 one night when she was approached by a man who requested a cigarette. When she gave him one, the man assaulted her, subjecting her to beatings and repeatedly raping her in a shack. The assault continued for five hours, with the perpetrator telling Gaika, "You think you’re a man, but I’m going to show you you’re a woman." He was later arrested and charged for the attack.