Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Yet Another Murder: Black and Gay Theater Director

Ben Bradley. Photo: Courtesy Fountain Theatre

Six days after Black and gay Indiana University English professor Don Belton was murdered by Michael Griffin, 25 at the time, an ex-Marine in Bloomington, Indiana, another Black and gay figure (this time in the stage arena) was also brutally murdered, in another apparent relationship gone sour.

Bennett Bradley, a well-loved and respected theater director who presented plays at the Fountain Theatre in East Hollywood, was brutally killed by his apparent lover on January 2, 2010. With the theater now celebrating its 20th year, Bradley had been scheduled to direct a new production of The Ballad of Emmett Till next month. Ironically, the play tells the actual story of a Black teenager whose murder helped spark a civil rights movement.

Press reports, citing the police, are saying that Jose Fructuoso, 25, stabbed the 59-year-old director to death. Fructuoso has been arrested and according to press reports has "confessed" to the brutal murder. News reports are calling Bradley and Fructuoso "lovers" or involved in an "intimate" relationship.

This tragedy -- the second in a week where a beloved Black man in his fifties was allegedly killed by a 25-year-old apparent "lover" -- raises the issue, why, in the four decades since gay liberation's Stonewall Rebellion (1969), we have yet to resolve the perplexing question of what makes a young man kill someone who loves him.

When Lindon Barrett, 46, the UC Riverside (and former UC Irvine) English Professor, also Black and gay, was murdered in 2008, and a young man, Marlon Martinez, then-20, was accused of his murder, I had wondered if the ensuing trial would provide any answers about how the young with older relationship had gone sour resulting in such brutality and finality.

That hope was squelched recently when on Christmas Day 2009, Martinez was found dead in his six-man cell in Los Angeles Men's Central Jail. Any inmate's jail death is suspicious and deplorable. Authorities are still investigating the cause of his death but one thing is certain, we are nowhere closer in understanding Lindon Barrett's brutal murder.

A memorial service for Bennett Bradley is being planned. For more information, see the Fountain Theatre's Ben Bradley memorial page, which also links to news reports on his murder.

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