On June 30th Navy Seaman August Provost was found shot to death and his guard shack burned at Camp Pendleton, a Marine base in the San Diego area.
August Provost was a 29-year-old African American gay man. Provost’s boyfriend, Kaether Cordero, and family members recount that he had recently been harassed about his sexual orientation. The family and his boyfriend believe Provost was killed for being gay and because of his race.
The Navy has a suspect in custody, and believes the murder was simply a random act of violence.
Provost’s murder raises questions about the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and how effective the investigation can be with such a policy in place. Rose Roy, Provost’s aunt, said that the policy discouraged Provost from reporting the harassment he was facing in the Navy.
Several members of Congress have called for a full-scale investigation into what happened to Provost. The Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, who represents an area near the base where Provost was killed, Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA) has called for an investigation. He was joined this week by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Texas Democrat who represents Houston where August Provost lived before joining the military.
August Provost’s story has gained widespread media attention, from CNN, MSNBC, the Huffington Post, Fox News, the Los Angeles Times and The Associated Press, among others. As the investigations move forward and Provost’s accused murderer is charged and tried for his brutal death, the story will certainly continue to gain media attention.
GLAAD will ensure that the media recognize and remember August Provost both as a “rising star in our Navy" as described by a Navy spokesman, as well as a gay man his family and boyfriend loved very much. If it's true that Provost couldn't notify military personnel about his ongoing harrassment, his story will become an all-too-tragic example of why LGBT advocates, high-ranking military officials and many in Congress are arguing for the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
**Editor's Note: Many media accounts attribute statements to Provost’s family and boyfriend saying he was gay. Other stories report that the family says Provost was bisexual. It is unclear how Provost personally identified. At the end of the day, whether Provost was bisexual or gay, he was a victim of tragic violence that those who knew him are sure was a result of intolerance about his sexual orientation