Gerard Fleming

Gerard FlemingName: Gerard Fleming
Died: June 16, 2006
Age at death: 35
Cause of death: Stabbing
Location: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Gerard was a gay man who frequented a "gay beat"–a toilet block where gay men often met to hook up. He shared a beer and a chat with a young man and, apparently believing that the young man was open to sex, dropped his pants and reached out to hug him. The young man, frightened, stabbed him twice and left him to die.

The young man pled guilty to manslaughter.

Editor's note: This is a complex case, and what really happened here is anyone's guess. Did Gerard know that the young man was only sixteen? Was he unable to read the young man's signals correctly? There was at least some hostile intent on the young man's part. The young man could easily have run away, since Gerard's pants were down around his ankles at the time, and instead he chose to stab Gerard; but this is at least as much a matter of quick thinking as it is a matter of moral judgment.

On the one hand, Gerard may have been intent on rape; on the other hand, the young man may have been so homophobic that he lashed out violently when he realized that Gerard thought he was gay. The young man did not know Gerard was autistic, but he did notice that Gerard spoke slowly. A combination of mixed signals, panic, poor judgment, the vulnerability of an autistic man, and the homophobic fears of a panicked teenager may have led to this incident. What really happened, we may never know, but Gerard is included here because I would rather include someone who was guilty and deserved what he got than exclude someone who was innocent and deserves to be remembered.

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