Today during worship at Hartford Friends Meeting, the story of the Good Samaritan came up and reverberated in subsequent messages. (At Quaker meetings anyone can share a message. We don't have a sermon or a pastor like they do in churches. Most messages are under five minutes) One of the key messages to emerge today was that in order to be a Good Samaritan, one often needs to see the humanity in people or as we say in Quaker circles "that of God within." Look beyond the externals of identity to find our kinship.
Wayne, a man in the meeting who always strikes me as such a nice guy, someone with whom I feel I could attend either a baseball game or an opera and have a good time, told the following story.
Back on Christmas Eve in 1990, when he must have been in his early 20's as he he walked around downtown Hartford with a male friend suddenly a large black SUV pulled up next to them and four young white guys jumped out. Without a word spoken they begin to beat and then kick Wayne and his friend. They hurt them badly. Wayne was unconscious and only learned later after waking up in the hospital how he survived the attack. As Wayne was on the ground already unconscious getting kicked in the head, a car pulled up with four others guys--two Black, two Latinos. They drove off the attackers and picked up Wayne and his friend and brought them in their car to the hospital. In contemporary Hartford with its vast class and race and geographic divides, the story serves as a modern remaking of the Good Samaritan parable.
The police later told Wayne that he and his friend were likely the victims of a hate crime--a gay bashing. Neither one of them are gay though. The assailants seeing two men walking identified them as gay and then targeted them to physically assault. Quite possibly Wayne or his friend would have died without the intervention of those four other guys.
Wayne got to meet the men who saved him and asked, "Why did you stop to help me?" The response was something like, "Because what they were doing to you was wrong and you needed help."
Simple concepts here that somehow can get confused. Straight people can be gay-bashed. Gay men can be the victims of transphobic crimes. People stand up and become active, informed allies because it is the right thing to do. Simple.