Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Indiana Professor Don Belton Murdered

Another week, another queer person of color murdered. Indiana University Professor Don Belton, who I knew from his time in Minneapolis, though I did not know him well, was murdered by Michael Griffin. Mr. Griffin accused Don of sexually assaulting him "twice" on Christmas Day. So he went to Don's house, with a hunting knife, and when Don didn't apologize, he stabbed the man at least five or six times in the back and then several times in front.

I call that premeditated murder. You don't go to someones house for an apology and bring a knife.

The reporting also included that the police found a journal in the professor's apartment that had an entry which read that he was "very happy" that someone named Michael entered his life. Now, I could be wrong, but unless someone is a pathological or serial rapist, they generally do not write journal entries about individuals they assaulted.

This sounds like someone got their dick sucked a couple of times, couldn't deal with their internal homophobia, and killed an innocent man. There is an investigation that will dig up the facts, but I am going to go ahead and say that based on the age difference, the obvious physical fitness of Mr. Griffin, and knowing Don's commitment to justice and community, it would be very difficult for Don to assault Mr. Griffin. And even if he had, inappropriate touching does not qualify anyone for a death sentence.

I am an assault survivor. I was assaulted twice as an adult. I understand that assault between men can happen. My heart and understanding goes out to assault survivors, particularly those that are men as we are made almost completely invisible in the domestic and sexual violence movements unless we are the perpetrators.

But I don't believe for a fucking second that Michael Griffin was assaulted by Don Belton. The facts, as they stand, do not add up. Perhaps my opinion will change, but I doubt it. Even in supposed gay panic cases, the murderer has killed while, during, or just after the sexual encounter. They don't go back, days later, with a bowie knife. That is the sign of a fucked up mind and some fucked up issues.

And, of course, who values the life of a black man? Let alone a queer black man? Who thinks twice about murdering those that society still often fails to value? Why do people still think, use, and triumph with the gay panic defense? If I murdered the woman that grabbed my dick at a nightclub in Virginia over the Thanksgiving holiday, would I have been able to get off based on a straight panic defense?

I am exhausted.

Rest in piece Don. Thank you for your contributions to education, your writing, and your spirit. You will be missed.


  1. oh brandon... i knew don as well. quite well in the early 90s. thank you for letting me know.

  2. This is one time when I am not proud to be a conveyor of news. Love to you Susan.

  3. ... you're spot on about the comments relative to heterosexual encounters. God damn, str8 men have just got to get over themselves and their issues with being the object of rather than the objectifier of attraction. Gay panic, my lily white untanned ass.

  4. You should read the probable cause affidavit available here via Indianapolis' WISH-TV:

    Not only did the cold-blooded killer show up with a large knife, he brought along a change of clothes and a trash bag with him.

  5. @Thomas Someone help the str8 people before they kill us all.
    @Anonymous Thank you for the link and the information. I am going to read the affidavit in the morning and write a follow up blog with my observations. I appreciate you reading and sharing this information.

  6. If you really want to make your blood boil, go over to Towleroad and read how the white boys are interpreting things (hint: they're not Team Belton).

    Kai in NYC

  7. People are sharing their impressions and memories of Don at the following website. Many of us in Bloomington will hold a vigil in his honor today at 5:00 pm.

  8. Thank you for passing that along, Holly. I appreciate it.

  9. Happy to do it, Brandon. The outrageous speculation about the case and the vilification of such a loved and respected man as Don is sickening.

  10. Yes, it really really is. Don will be remembered in the right way by just people

  11. I'm exhausted too, Brandon. Thank you so much for this piece.

    Feel free to link my two commemorative posts at the Aqueduct Press blog if you wish.


  12. Thanks Josh. I posted your article to my Facebook page, and I will link it here. Much love.



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