Victim Blamed in ’Gay Slay’ Due to ’Lifestyle’

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Monday March 30, 2009

In the wake of newsman George Weber's tragic death at the hands of a reportedly heterosexual 16-year old boy with a penchant for knives, various online media sources have found an opportunity to use the tragedy as a springboard for an array of messages.

As reported at EDGE Weber was found dead in his New York City apartment on March 22. He had been stabbed an estimated 50 times. His feet were bound with duct tape, and sadomasochistic-themed pornography was discovered at the scene.

Within days, a suspect was arrested. John Katehis, a 16-year-old who reportedly had a girlfriend, described himself in online profiles as a tough guy with a passion for bladed weapons.

But the fateful intersection of Weber and Katehis soon shared the media spotlight with another aspect of the story: the fact that the two had arranged their rendezvous online, conjuring images of cyber-cruising, online "hookups," and the dangers that such 21st century activities can entail.

In the aftermath of the killing, pundits have begun to treat the horrific event as a mirror in which to catch a glimpse of some national malaise.

The religious right have begun holding up Weber's murder--dubbed a "gay slay" in the press--as an example of the wages of the "sinful" homosexual "lifestyle."

A March 27 article at the anti-gay Web site Americans for Truth About Homosexuality seeks to portray the craigslist hookup between Weber and confessed killer John Katehis, who reportedly agreed to a session of rough sex with Weber in exchange for $80, as commonplace for gays.

The March 27 article is not the first such posting at the anti-gay site. A March 26 article claimed to quote a so-called "ex-gay" called "David" as indicating that online hookups are "part and parcel of the male homosexual lifestyle."

"David" was quoted as claiming to have been gay at one point in his life, and as having suffered violence at the hands of at least one partner who, "David" said, attempted to "strangle" him.

In a comment signed only "David" that indicated the writer was based in "Atlanta," the purportedly "ex-gay" man wrote that, "The brutal stabbing murder of WABC reporter George Weber should come as no surprise to anyone in the homosexual community."

"David" continued, "Instant gratification, orgy sex, and anonymous sexual 'hook-ups' are part and parcel of the male homosexual lifestyle.

"I know this, because I lived that life for more than 20 years."

Without acknowledging that heterosexuals also participate in such behavior, "David" went on to write, "I am a 48-year-old man recovering from homosexuality. (Yes, I am a former homosexual.)"

"David" described the homosexual "lifestyle" in negative terms. "It is a desolate, emotionless, self-focused, self-destructive life--in which instant, anonymous sex is easily available, very common and an integral part of what it means to be 'gay.'"

"David" followed this sweeping generalization with another, writing, "Go to any male homosexual website (e.g., 'Manhunt), 'leather bar,' circuit party [huge drug-and sex-heavy dance parties for homosexual men], etc., and you will find that quick, one-time hook-ups--and multiple sex partners--is central to that way of life."

"David" went on to make similarly generalized claims about married gay couples, writing, "Even in so-called homosexual 'marriages,' the overwhelming majority have 'open relationships' or a 'don't ask, don't tell' policy about extracurricular sexual escapades."

The March 27 AFTAH article also quoted from posted writings by a so-called "ex-gay" commentator, D. L. Foster, a married father who claims to have been gay earlier in his life before his "conversion" to heterosexuality.

D. L. Foster acknowledged that heterosexuals, too, employ online resources to make contact with casual sex partners, but still referred to sexual liaisons arranged online as "common in the homosexual world."

Added D. L. Foster, "And yes heterosexuals do it to, but no matter what type of sexual proclivity it is, SIN leads to death.

"The best course of action is to get out of the deadly sin business and live for Christ."

In a March 27 article, Gay blog site Good As You lamented the AFTAH articles as being "Disgusting," and slammed AFTAH head Peter LaBarbera.

"Exploiting a human being's murder in order to say that all gay men are promiscuous, anonymous sex fans, and to further his pro-'ex-gay' cause? It's just another unsavory day in the professionally anti-gay career of Peter LaBarbera," the posting read.

Added the article, "Were there lots of unfortunate decisions that led to Mr. Weber's murder? Without a doubt. But being gay was not one of them.

"Those of us who live in NYC know that there are all kinds of murders all the time, an unfortunate reality that speaks to the evils of humankind as a whole--not the sweeping "evils" of any one group in particular.

"And it's beyond enraging for someone like Peter LaBarbera--a man who finds [the] gay disgusting even in its monogamous, two parent, white picket fence form--to use this one grisly NYC murder to say that there's some sort of gay-on-gay murder epidemic, and that gays should 'change' in order to survive!"

The Good As you article continued, "But don't worry, other 'pro-family' evangelicals. Even though Pete's extreme [anti]-gay activism long ago killed the idea that he's a mere 'compassionate Christian,' we won't sweepingly use his one case of verbal homo-cide against all of you."

The incident also provoked a critical look at the activities of a subculture that exists among both gays and straights at least one commentator sympathetic to the cause of GLBT equality.

At Red Alerts, a March 27 article dismissed the idea that craigslist was to blame for the horrific killing, citing rough sex and sadomasochism with strangers as more central to the tragedy.

"What is at fault is a larger culture of depravity and self-loathing, drug use and abdication of responsibility, particularly the responsibility for your own safety," wrote Rob Taylor.

Wrote Taylor, "Weber was a masochist who wanted to be choked while performing oral sex on a young man. In today's society we simply shrug at this as if there is nothing wrong with the pathological compulsion to be sexually humiliated and abused even though in this case the reasons such a thing shouldn't be condoned is staring us right in the face.

"The sadists who make up the S component in S&M are not simply people with a 'kink' who want to party with you," Taylor continued.

"They are people for whom pain and suffering, and death, are more arousing than the sex itself."

Continued Taylor, "Masochism at it's very base it a desire to be abused or re-enact abuse, so by its very nature it attracts abusive, dangerous people."

Observed Tayor, "George Weber met a strange teen and got him drunk and coked up with the intention of allowing that teen to bind him with duct tape and abuse him while he performed oral sex the teen.

"Express this desire to a psychiatrist and that person may feel sufficiently fearful for your safety that you'll be committed," Taylor continued.

"In the aftermath of a murder it is considered in bad taste to mention that this compulsive abuse seeking is a recipe for personal disaster."

Taylor identified a different portent of national concern in the killing, writing, "When I lived in New York for so many years, I witnessed the effeminization of men (and infantilization of women) being lauded as a more modern and progressive cultural alternative to 'Red State' ideas of being a Man's Man."

Added Taylor, "I met many people who sneered in disgust at the idea that you should always be prepared to defend yourself or your family."

As to why the teen, who reportedly had a girlfriend, would agree to sexual services with another man, a March 28 article in The New York Post suggested one motive: money.

Katehis, detained in a psych ward at Bellevue hospital, reportedly declared to a reporter from the Post that he was interested in seeing greenbacks before he'd open up to the press about the cash-for-sex encounter that went wrong, resulting in Weber's death.

The article quoted Katehis as asking the reporter, "Is this a cash offer? Cash offers only!"

The article said that the reporter informed the suspect that no money would change hands.

At that point, the article said, Katehis left the room with a final shout of, "Cash offers only!"

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.