Hazing or Hate?

Was A Florida College Student Hazed To Death Because He Was Gay?

It looks like there were a few issues at play in the November 2011 hazing death of Florida A&M student Robert Champion, Jr. The most recent development to come to light is that he was gay.

Does that part matter, though? Was he hazed more severely for being gay or was he treated differently because of other views?

Champion’s body was found on a bus after a football game last fall—an autopsy ruled his death was a homicide and that the 26-year-old drum major “suffered blunt trauma blows to his body and died from shock caused by severe bleeding.” It appears as if his death was caused by overzealous hazing from fellow FAMU band members.

Lawyer Christopher Chestnut, speaking on behalf of the Champion family in a press conference this morning, claims that his personal investigation uncovered that Robert was fiercely anti-establishment and resented hazing practices in general.

“Robert Champion was the poster child of anti-hazing. He threatened the very institution of hazing in this band,” said Chestnut. “This is not a hate crime. This is a hazing crime.”

Chestnut also learned, according to ABC News, that Champion was gay—a fact he kept mostly hidden from his family.

Champion’s parents were vaguely aware of his sexuality, but did not know that there were rumors of a connection to his death.

“Robert did have an alternative lifestyle,” said Chestnut, who claims insiders told him that wasn’t a primary factor in the hazing, however. “It’s difficult to know the true motives of every person.”

While Chestnut wants to keep the issue black-and-white—either he was hazed more severely for his anti-hazing views or for being gay—it’s likely a combination of the two. So, yes, it was a hazing crime, first and foremost. But investigators would be remiss if they didn’t investigate how much homophobia played into it as well.

But did race?

As we wrote this blog post, an e-mail from the National Black Justice Coalition popped up in our inbox, calling for an investigation into Champion’s death as a possible hate crime.

Writes NBJC director Sharon Lettman-Hicks:

Anti-gay violence is not only a civil rights issue; it is a Black issue. It is a Black issue because violence against gay and transgender individuals is disproportionately affecting our Black youth. The civil rights community can no longer stand on the sidelines while our sons and daughters continue to suffer in silence. Mr. Champion is one of our own and his death will not be in vain.

That is why I am calling on the Black and LGBT communities to join NBJC in demanding a fair and thorough investigation. Be it hazing or hate crime, justice must be served.

While police investigation and court rulings might tell us who’s responsible for Champion’s death, we may never truly know why he was killed.

Whatever the reason, another young talented gay person is dead. R.I.P. Robert.

Photo: NBJC

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  • Kurt

    *Yawn* Another race baiting article from queerty.

  • JAW

    Bands are pretty gay… so doubt that was the issue… best thing to do would be to ask the other Gay band members over the year

    I would bet it was his anti-hazing views… It is much more fun to Haze someone that hates it or finds it humiliating. Plus he was the Drum Major a Leader… could have been harder on him because of that

    Just like when we were kids and a brother or sister would tease till you cried… If you liked it it would have been boring… they wanted to see TEARS.

    Perhaps it was just a dumb accident where someone just went too far

  • Isaac C

    @Kurt: Explain how anything in this story is “race baiting.” If anything the story is trying to build something positive between two groups that people like you keep trying to tear down.

  • B

    Regarding the phrase “was gay—a fact he kept mostly hidden from his family” … how do you keep it “mostly hidden”? By telling some family members but not others (which assumes that nobody tells anyone else)?

  • JayKay

    The National Black Justice Coalition? Yeah there’s an unbiased source.

  • Black Pegasus

    He being Gay had nothing to do with it..He was the Drum Major of the band which is it’s defacto leader.
    So his sexuality was most likely an open secret for those with “gaydar”.
    To add: Most frats and bands in Black Colleges have a large number of “ambiguously gay” men involved in them, so despite what Queerty may want you to think; homophobia may not have been a factor.

  • Jack

    Like others have said, I can confirm that the Marching “100” has *MANY* gay members (years ago I slept with them). Everyone was viciously hazed back then, too. This one got out of hand, but the idea that it’s because he was gay is absolute rubbish. As much as Queerty likes to pretend that it has a handle on race issues, articles like this continue to prove that they have no idea.

  • CBRad

    I’m surprised Queerty didn’t say he was killed by a bunch of whites (including some Jews) who snuck onto campus in blackface to kill a student.

  • Kev C

    Instead of opinions, they should arrest the suspected attackers and interview them or put them on trial. I hope they sue the Orange County Sheriff’s Dept. for failure to arrest anyone.

  • JKB

    @CBRad: Are you referring to the hazing article or some reverie in your head?

  • jason

    Please don’t call this “hazing”. This is pure murder. The assailants ought to be locked up and the key thrown away.

    I notice that the perpetrators were probably black. Is this why this this incident has not received much coverage in the mainstream media? The mainstream media appears to be guilty of pro-black political correctness.

  • CBRad

    @JKB: Both.

  • Aiden

    @CBRad: Why would they do that when they can just do the usual things and blame it on the always homophobic Negroes?

  • redball


    Poor thing. Sounds like no one in your family knew how to keep a secret.

  • Razzmatazz

    @jason: Um, this was one of the main stories on CNN for like 2 weeks last year.

Comments are closed.