Badpuppy Gay Today

Friday, 18 July 1997


Bob Kunst, Miami Beach's Best-Known Gay Activist Says They Do
Blasts Police & Media Speculation on Cunanan AIDS Connection

By Jack Nichols


In 1977 Bob Kunst, Miami Beach's famed gay activist, had his first finest hour on TV when he humiliated the anti-gay crusader Anita Bryant in front of the nation. Ms. Bryant, ten years later, admitted to the Orlando Sentinel that Kunst had represented a very dark period in her life. Now--in the wake of Gianni Versace's murder Bob Kunst is representing another very dark period for official spin-doctors conducting an after-thought-Cunanan-police hunt.

Thursday night found Kunst on CBS's 48 Hours raining buckets on Miami and Miami Beach's figurative Police Pride Parade. He charged that police department spindoctors were puffing up the search as effective while in reality the hunt for Cunanan is nothing more than a learning by trial and error how to respond to gay community criticisms.

With Bob Kunst in the spotlight again, media can count on a sometimes amusing but always earnest show of indignation and pointed criticism while Miami's gay residents can be sure that Kunst will effectively expose police prejudice as a tax-fed parasite.

Only a few days prior to Gianni Versace's murder the Miami area's Metro Commission had voted 7-6 against granting equal protective rights to persons who prefer to bond with others of their own gender. Many of the same people who supported this denial of rights are now stepping forward to bemoan the killing of a gay member of the city's financial aristocracy. Kunst and others say such hypocrisy isn't fair. (See Bob Kunst profiled in GayToday's current People feature).

Before the TV cameras of over a dozen nations Bob Kunst leveled charges Thursday that Miami Mayor Penelas and other tourist-business-nervous area politicians and police had given the Miami area's gay community no sufficient warnings, even though the signs and evidence had been unmistakable that serial killer Cunanan was somewhere in South Florida. Wednesday night, according to Kunst, CNBC's Hard Ball called Mayor Penelas a "loser" on "image" versus "security".

"Why," demanded Kunst--who was also shown doing a fiery police-critique on CNN's Thursday edition of Crossfire--"Why was Cunanan's stolen truck found June 10, long before Versace's murder? Why wasn't the finding of that truck used to alert the gay community?" A life-long Miami-area resident, Kunst charges that police in the Magic City have attitude: "A gay kills a gay? Who cares?"

On Wednesday's Nightline, OUT editor Sarah Petit took a stand against what she saw as a general ignoring of gay concerns by law agencies chasing Cunanan. Activists in cities nationwide are making similar complaints. Presently, the public is being told, the largest American manhunt in history except for the Oklahoma bombing, is underway. "Why does it always take a celebrity death to get people off their butts," runs one common gay community complaint.

Underneath this complaint lie unspoken assumptions: that all human lives are equivalent in value and that police have been playing less attention to the ugly hate crimes and serious gay bashings that have been rising dramatically in less famous gay neighborhoods.

The Versace murder suspect, Andrew Cunanan, if he truly longs to be famous for slightly more than 15 minutes, is succeeding. The longer Cunanan eludes federal and local police, the more will his behavior seem to merit continuous media coverage. A number of law enforcement spokespersons advanced the theory that the murderer was, as they spoke, kicked back and watching, maybe even laughing at them. Some used the occasion to offer the Most Wanted Man rambling gratuitous advice.

Bob Kunst turned the tables, offering police advice: Get out of the peep-hole sex patrol business including entrapment in parks and restrooms by area plainclothesmen, and put police focus where it belongs: on saving lives.

Kunst also critiqued speculators on Cunanan's motives, particularly those who wonder, without knowing, if Cunanan is HIV-positive, by saying he may be responding to an AIDS condition with an inexplicable need for random revenge. This kind of speculation remains an unwarranted attack on people with AIDS, Kunst believes.

Finally, the veteran activist scorned the hypocrisy of a city's officialdom that fears nothing more than loss of tourist's dollars. "They fear that this number #1 news story will affect our (Miami Beach) image and tourism." Kunst believes that the "bigoted policies" of the Metro area politicians, turning down, for the fourth time, gay rights equal protections, have already impacted the area negatively.

Now that Gianni Versace is dead, Kunst says that he feels overcome by the stench of duplicity on the part of anti-gay city officials. "Throw the bums out!" has been one of his recent themes.

The gay activist is critical of what he feels were paltry sums offered as rewards by Mayor Penelas ($45,000) as well as New York's Mayor ($10,000) and the FBI ($10,000). He asked GayToday: "For 5 gays killed, this is how much its all worth? Cheap isn't the word."

Kunst says that a San Diego psychic predicts Andrew Cunanan will be caught Saturday.

1997 BEI; All Rights Reserved.
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