Death by Outing

James Davis's Killer Was Deeply Conflicted About His Sexuality

He wasn't always so gay friendly. When Davis ran for the City Council in 2001, he failed to respond to a questionnaire from Empire State Pride Agenda (which subsequently stayed neutral in the race). He angered Brooklyn's Lambda Independent Democrats by traveling to Zimbabwe with Councilmember Charles Barron, despite its dictator's vicious homophobic policies. (The club had endorsed one of Davis's opponents in the 2001 race.) But he patched up these differences, and at his death many gay activists sang his praises. "He was always sympathetic," says Edgar Rodriguez, former president of the Gay Officers Action League, who met Davis as a student at the police academy. "When we saw each other, he gave me a warm embrace, and our conversation was real. I felt like I had a bond with him."

Davis had that effect on a lot of people—including his killer. In the tabs, there was speculation that Askew had mistaken these good intentions for flirting. The truth about this relationship will never be known. All we have are clues too easily assembled into the portrait of a martyred hero and a homicidal homosexual.


Research assistance: Matthew Phillp


Related Stories:
"The Visible Man: Davis Touched All the Bases in a Volatile Brooklyn District" by Rivka Gewirtz Little

From the Voice, September 6, 2000: "Selling Himself—What James E. Davis Does Best" by James Bradley

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