Othniel "Niel" Boaz Askew
[Photo by Victor Carnuccio]
The story about Askew most people won't hear is in the Gay City News.
Emanuel Xavier is a gay poet and author who frequented many of the same nightclubs as Askew did back in the 1990s. This past December, Davis honored Xavier and other LGBT activists at the CouncilmemberÂ’s Holiday Pride event at Long Island University. According to Xavier, around 1995, he and [Clifford Nass, Askew's roommate at the time] dated for several months, well before AskewÂ’s 1996 arrest.What's it all mean? I suspect there are more tales to be heard before this story dies.
During his relationship with Nass, Xavier spent a considerable amount of time in the West 43rd Street apartment.
He recalled Askew as "an incredibly sweet person," saying that "the media is portraying him as a monster and he wasnÂ’t one despite committing such an inhumane act."
. . . .
Despite Xavier positive recollections about Askew, he also recalled signs of a troubled side to the man.
"He had issues with being comfortable within his own skin," Xavier said. "He was concerned about his image. We often joked about how he was so white. In connecting with me as a person of color, I think he was trying to be comfortable with himself and always complimented me on being an out artist who was proud of who I was."
The two men maintained a casual acquaintance, running into each other occasionally at gay events.
"I ran into him on and off for the last several years," Xavier said. "The last time I saw him was last year at the Roxy. He looked really good."
Like [Victor Carnuccio, a friend of Askew's who had photographed him in 1992], Xavier noted that Askew had bulked up, with a noticeably muscular physique.
"It was a very brief conversation. He told me about going into politics," said Xavier. "When I read about Councilmember Davis threatening to out him it was so surprising because he was already so out and on the scene."
We're free now, and some of us just won't shut up.