Rutgers Kid So Abhorred By Gay Sex That He Wanted To Watch It Gets 30 Days In Jail

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Dharun RaviDharun Ravi, the now notorious Rutgers student who spied on his gay roommate Tyler Clementi American Pie style, has been sentenced to 30 days in jail. His sentence also includes three years’ probation, 300 hours of community service, counseling about cyberbullying and “alternate lifestyles” and a whopping $10,000 probation fee. Although Ravi faced a maximum of 10 years in prison following Clementi’s suicide, the judge ultimately decided to go easy on the kid who found gay sex so disgusting that he chose to spy on his gay roommate’s intimate encounters.

For those not up to speed on the chain of events, they proceeded as follows:

Mr. Clementi and Mr. Ravi had been three weeks into their freshman year at Rutgers when Mr. Clementi, an 18-year-old who had recently come out to his parents, asked if he could have the room for the evening so he could be alone with a boyfriend he had met on a Web site for gay men.

In court, prosecutors presented a long trail of electronic evidence to show how Mr. Ravi had set up a webcam to spy on the men, then gone into a friend’s room and watched. He caught only a glimpse of Mr. Clementi and his boyfriend in an embrace, then sent out Twitter messages announcing that he had seen his roommate “making out with a dude.” He set up the camera again two days later and urged others to watch. But by then, Mr. Clementi had seen the Twitter posts and turned off the webcam.

The New Yorker reported earlier this year that although witnesses didn’t describe Ravi’s attitude towards LGBTQ individuals as “contemptuous,” conversations leading up to his arrival at Rutgers nevertheless exhibit homophobia. Although his comments are asterisked with the insistence that he doesn’t really care about his future roommate’s sexuality — which he had learned on the days leading up to his move in — much his online correspondence with friends reads like this:

“FUCK MY LIFE/ He’s gay.”…“He would be born in January / what a gay month.”…In the next few minutes, Ravi wrote “wtf”—“what the fuck”—seven times. He posted…his Twitter account: “Found out my roommate is gay.”

While I find it pretty odd that someone who appears to find gay sex revolting would set up a private viewing for himself and friends, the judge’s decision to go lightly on Ravi’s behavior carries severe consequences for queer children and youth. Although Ravi may not outwardly appear to be “a hatemonger, homophobic and antigay,” his “gay hunting” exhibits prominent homophobia, reminding us that you need be spewing consistent anti-gay vitriol to be homophobic. Demeaning and hateful attitudes surrounding queer individuals and children continue to flourish in the most subtle of ways, many of which are not addressed by even teachers or administrators.

The jury’s decision to go forward with a feather light sentence affirms that the bashing of LGBTQ individuals is not a true crime, resulting in true and weighty consequences. As long as seeking out gay kids to bully and humiliate is just dismissed as “juvenile foolishness,” no queer child’s safety is to be taken as seriously as that of straight children.