Police in Newport, Washington, arrested five people in connection with the torture and murder of a young gay man, but questions remain for those left behind. The body of 19-year-old Jason Fox was found buried in a shallow grave on a remote rural ranch in Pend Oreille Country last month following his disappearance in September. According to multiple reports, his hands were tied behind his back, his body showed signs of torture, and the cause of death was listed as blunt force trauma to the head. While police have indicated they have little evidence to bring hate crime charges, family and friends insist Fox was murdered and tortured because he was gay.
“I have full good reason to believe, and so do other people, that Jason was killed because he’s gay,” Jason’s mother, Pepper Fox, KHQ News.
Police arrested Kevin Belding, Matthew Raddatz-Freeman, Claude Merritt, Riley Hillestad and Sean Bellah in connection with the murderKREM News. Hillstead, the alleged ringleader of the crime, was charged with nine counts, including first degree murder and first degree kidnapping. Merritt and Raddatz-Freeman face similar charges, while Bellah was arrested for providing false or misleading statements in connection with the investigation.
According to multiple reports, Fox was trying to get his life back together in the small northeastern town of Newport on the Idaho border. He had come out as gay to his family, but told others he was bisexual because he felt it might be more acceptable in town. The fun-loving teen had experienced problems with acceptance in the conservative town and had experimented with drugs, but was looking forward to attending school again.
According to Inlander, Fox had been invited to hang out with friends by Merritt on the night he was murdered, but he had reservations. He received assurances Hillstead, would not be joining the group at the Timber River Ranch where his bound and tortured body was eventually discovered. According to Inlander, Fox sent a text message with the address of the ranch to his cousin “just in [case] anything happens to me.” The text would prove to be the last time his family heard from him.
His family immediately reported him missing and when police contacted the suspects the day following Fox’s disappearance, all five gave different versions of the previous evening’s events. Fox’s car was later found abandoned outside Libby, Montana, and his buried body was discovered on the ranch on October 4.
Making matters worse, a memorial in his honor was recently vandalized with homophobic slurs. Fox’s mother Pepper had been visiting the memorial every night to light a candle.
While the arrests are a positive development in the case, Fox’s murder is still difficult for the family to digest.
“The sad part is I was beginning to feel like he was finally getting in touch with who he was,” Jason’s father, Michael, told KHQ News. “And he was comfortable with himself.”
16 lgbtqiap+ books by black authors
The first time the Nightmares came, it nearly cost Alice her life. Now she’s trained to battle monstrous creatures in the dark dream realm known as Wonderland with magic weapons and hardcore fighting skills. Yet even warriors have a curfew.
Life in real-world Atlanta isn’t always so simple, as Alice juggles an overprotective mom, a high-maintenance best friend, and a slipping GPA. Keeping the Nightmares at bay is turning into a full-time job. But when Alice’s handsome and mysterious mentor is poisoned, she has to find the antidote by venturing deeper into Wonderland than she’s ever gone before. And she’ll need to use everything she’s learned in both worlds to keep from losing her head . . . literally.
When Suzette comes home to Los Angeles from her boarding school in New England, she isn’t sure if she’ll ever want to go back. L.A. is where her friends and family are (along with her crush, Emil). And her stepbrother, Lionel, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, needs her emotional support.
But as she settles into her old life, Suzette finds herself falling for someone new…the same girl her brother is in love with. When Lionel’s disorder spirals out of control, Suzette is forced to confront her past mistakes and find a way to help her brother before he hurts himself–or worse.
Simone Garcia-Hampton is a black teen born HIV-Positive. Raised by loving queer parents who assure her that her diagnosis doesn’t define her, Simone must navigate a whole new world of fear, disclosure, and radical self-acceptance when she falls in love—and lust—for the first time. Simone’s journey to share her secret while still protecting her heart is a thoughtful, compelling, and heartwarming look at the particular challenges of adolescence, written as only a teen could.
Everyone on campus knows Remy Cameron. He’s the out-and-gay, super-likable guy that people admire for his confidence. The only person who may not know Remy that well is Remy himself. So when he is assigned to write an essay describing himself, he goes on a journey to reconcile the labels that people have attached to him, and get to know the real Remy Cameron.
But when Jake meets Sawyer Doon, he discovers a spirit too vengeful to ignore. Six years ago, Sawyer carried out a school shooting and killed himself before finishing the job. His targets are still out there, and he’s determined to possess Jake to finish what he started.
The more Jake tries to ignore Sawyer, the more he feels the ghost boy’s impact on his psyche. And the more he uncovers about who Sawyer was, the more he realizes how similar he is to Sawyer–a boy once bullied relentlessly for his sexuality, now hell-bent on taking power from a world that took it from him. To protect himself from possession, Jake will have to find a voice in a school he feels he has none and discover his own reason to live.
‘are we there yet’ features black gay teen!
Regular gay teen characters have been popping up like wild flowers on television lately. Glee, 90210, The United States of Tara, Skins and Shameless are just a few. But most of these shows aren’t exactly being watched by a large black audience.
I recently came across an episode of TBS’ Are We There Yet, executive produced by and sometimes featuring rapper/actor Ice Cube, that features the new character Cedric (played by 23-year-old Maxx Brawer, the son of Tony Award-winning actress Tonya Pinkins, who cameos as Wade’s mother in Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom). The episode, which aired on Jan. 19, introduced Cedric, a high school football player, as a new love interest for the starring family’s teen daughter. His sexuality comes up for debate amongst the mother and father and they set out to discover the truth. Later in the episode Cedric comes out to the father and then the daughter who both accept him as he is without reproach.
When you think about it, this just might be the first time a gay black teenage male has ever been featured on a television show with a predominately black cast. Especially with such a sensitive storyline that’s not demeaning his sexuality, or making him seem like less of a man because he’s gay. (Please correct me if I’m wrong.) I must admit I definitely squealed a little when I came across this episode. This is a huge step. Kudos to Ice-Cube and the creators behind Are You There Yet for making such a bold decision and positively representing this character. I definitely hope this isn’t the last time we see Cedric on the show.
Clark moore might just be the queer voice that hollywood needs.
The 26-year-old actor plays his first major role in Love, Simon, the critically-acclaimed rom-com from 20th Century Fox that tells the story of a closeted gay teen who’s outed to his whole school during his quest to find love.
And while the star of the show is Nick Robinson’s Simon, a ‘straight-passing’ everyday guy stuck in the closet, it’s likely that many queer viewers will find themselves relating to Moore’s character Ethan, a new addition to the movie who didn’t exist in Becky Albertalli’s book.
As Simon regularly reassures viewers that he’s “just like you”, Ethan embraces all the things that make him different, and is refreshingly unapologetic about his place as a feminine gay man of colour at Creekwood High School.
“In many ways, Ethan is who I wish I could’ve been growing up,” the actor tells Gay Times. And, as you leave the cinema with a fuzzy heart over Simon’s new-found romance, there will probably be a part of you that feels the same.
We sat down with Clark to discuss his role as Ethan, the discrimination that still exists in Hollywood, and how he hopes Love, Simon will inspire a new generation of young gay black men.
What was your reaction when you first got to see the movie?It was really exciting! I saw it for the first time back in September. I went to the Fox Studios lot to do some voiceover stuff for the film, and it happened to be the weekend that my mom was in town for Labour Day weekend, so I got to take her with me which was really cute. I got to have fun with my mom and it’s the first big thing that I’ve ever done, so I also felt pretty accomplished.
Had you read the book before you started filming?I read it after I got the part, because I didn’t want to jinx anything. I don’t know if you’ve read the book, but my character isn’t actually in it, he was added into the film – which I am so, so grateful for – but I was a little sad when I read it because I thought, ‘Oh no, I don’t get to read about Ethan’. But I did enjoy reading it because it gave me an insight into Simon’s world, how he was thinking and his relationships with the other characters, and then I was better able to imagine how I could fit into that world.
Why do you think the story needed Ethan?That’s a really good question. I don’t know if the story needed Ethan, but what I love is that Greg [Berlanti] built out the world in a way that was a little more inclusive – not that Becky’s book wasn’t, but by putting Ethan into this story, it sort of gave us an opportunity to see how people who experience intersectionality deal with this exact same thing. Like, the fact that Ethan is not only gay, but a person of colour, was a really awesome, strong and bold choice, and it gives more young people proxies to latch on to, in a way that they can see themselves in the story.
It’s important to note that feminine gay men of colour don’t really exist in Hollywood, so you must feel the importance of that?Absolutely. From the acting perspective, I’ve been living in L.A. for four to five years now, and I’ve been auditioning constantly ever since I got here. The reality is that everyone wants to do diversity, as it’s been the buzz word of late, but often times what that looks like is filling these quotas, and if you use up all your diversity on the one character by making him both gay and black, then you don’t really get to spread it out elsewhere. I’ve had times where I’ve auditioned for a role where they’ve said, ‘We decided not to go ethnic with the gay role’, and then they have another role that’s designated the ethnic role. So yeah, I’m very aware that we don’t really exist if you look at the landscape of gay narratives in Hollywood.
Have you found that you’ve been turned down for a lot of roles, then?A lot, yeah, for sure. There have been a number of times where they’ve said, ‘We’ll see all ethnicities’, and then almost always they ended up going with the white actor. It’s hard because I don’t want to take any jobs away from anyone else – and oftentimes the actors who get the roles are friends of mine, or they played the roles really well – but at the same time it’s really hard to get a foothold because when you exist in between these two worlds you’re never quite enough for either.
How does your own experiences of growing up compare to Ethan’s?There’s a lot of parallels for sure, I’m actually from Atlanta originally, that’s where my parents live now and it’s where I grew up, and that’s where the film is set, so there’s a lot of hometown feelings. But I would say that Ethan is a little bit more self-assured than I was, he’s far more confident and he always knows exactly what to say to get right back at the bullies. I didn’t quite have that, I mean I was outrageous and loud and loved attention – I was a theatre kid! – but I didn’t really have the quick comebacks, and I think of Ethan as being top of his class, smart as a whip, and I see him going on to change the world one day. So in many ways, Ethan is who I wish I could’ve been growing up.
In the movie, Simon suggests that life is “easy” for Ethan because everyone already assumes he’s gay, whereas he has always been in the closet. Would you agree with this sentiment at all?So I remember when I was in high school, I had a thought to myself that if I continued to be effeminate – and that didn’t feel like a choice to me, it was just a natural way of expressing myself – then I would never have to come out again. I remember processing the trauma of coming out and thinking, ‘This is a really easy way to avoid that for the rest of my life’. So whereas people struggling with their sexuality may have gone the other way and leaned into a more masculine performance, I just sort of stayed in that safe space of allowing people to assume I was gay, and then choosing whether or not to affirm that. So in some ways I’ve had the privilege of not having to come out constantly like some people do, but on the other hand I also can’t hide. I’m very visible. Saying that I feel like a target seems too dramatic, but there is definitely also a privilege of being able to ‘pass’ as straight. From the acting perspective as well, there’s the side of it where straight people often get the privilege of playing gay roles, but rarely do gay actors get to do the reverse. So that’s my only worry, the limitations that come around there.
Love, Simon is being billed as the first major studio movie to have a gay lead character, do you think this shows we’ve reached a place of acceptance for LGBTQ people, at least in more liberal countries?Yeah, I would say definitely in urban centres and left-leaning or academic intellectual circles, at the risk of sounding like the ‘liberal coastal elite’. But if our current political climate shows you anything, both here in America with Trump and also in the UK with the nationalism and isolationism that’s been sweeping since Brexit, it feels like on the one hand yes we are more accepting and we’ve progressed further than we have in history, but on the other hand the pendulum seems to be swinging so aggressively in the other direction in response to that, creating this chasm between the two sides. So I don’t feel comfortable saying we’ve reached a place of acceptance full stop, but I think that we see the importance now of showing our acceptance. I think also in the past couple of years, we’ve seen that switch from tolerance to acceptance. 10 years ago it was all about tolerating people’s differences or tolerating things you don’t understand, but of course if you unpack that word there’s an inherent judgement in it – you’re tolerating something that is not okay. So I think once we make that switch from tolerance to acceptance, which I think we’re in the process of doing, that is when these doors are going to open up.
Obviously Simon found his guy at the end of the film, but do you ever think about whether Ethan will get his happy ending?I do think about it a lot, because that’s the other thing that I’ve found in my experience as a gay black man, is that a lot of people find me funny and entertaining, in a lot of the same ways that they gravitate towards Ethan – his quick-witted, sharp-tongued, brilliant mind. But I don’t really feel sexualised in the way that some of my other gay friends are, and I think a lot of that has to do with the femmephobia that we were talking about, but also we just haven’t really seen those stories told. I haven’t heard anything about what happens for Ethan next, but I would like to think he finds love. I mean, I think it’s hard for anyone in high school to find love – definitely not one that lasts – but I like to think that he goes off to Dartmouth or Harvard or Stanford, and finds the Barack to his Michelle.
Maybe Ethan could get his own spin-off movie?I would love that! That would be a dream come true. There’s so much to explore in that world, for sure.
If there were a sequel in the future, would that be something you’d be down for?Yeah, absolutely, I would be more than happy to go back to Creekwood, especially signing up to go back with all the people I worked with. Nick is such an amazing force, he’s such a talented actor. When we talk about straight actors playing gay roles, or white actors getting these parts when people of colour were auditioning as well, in theory you sort of want it to look a certain way or happen a certain way, but then I work with Nick and I look at his performance and I’m like, ‘I can’t imagine anyone else playing Simon’. He is the best fit for the role, and he’s so incredibly talented and emotionally involved – anyway, I’ve gone off on a tangent about how much I like Nick Robinson, but he’s just such a likeable guy!
What impact do you hope Love, Simon will have on young LGBTQ people?Well, if this past year of filmmaking has shown us anything, it’s that representation is really important, and arguably the most important thing when cultivating a new generation of storytellers. I think the fact that I’m in this film, and that there are young gay black boys who are going to see someone who looks like them – even if just a little bit – then that makes me so excited and ready for all of the projects and stories that are going to come rolling down the pipeline having inspired all those kids. That’s my hope.