Op-Ed: Young Gay Man Goes Missing; Media Foolishly Ignores Sexuality

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Ryan Uhre (Images: Facebook)

The now socially and politically correct media needs to say something about the young man that went missing after the Super Bowl that they have not.

Ryan Uhre, 23, of Weston is gay.

He was last seen Sunday, Feb. 2, at around 8:30 pm at a Tallahassee bar where he was reportedly watching the Super Bowl with friends. If he was anything like me in college, he left the bar alone, but did not necessarily go home. If you are a young gay man hanging out with Alpha Delta Phi frat brothers in a straight sports bar, the end of that game is the beginning of your night. You are not going home with a girl, and you don’t want to go home alone. So you go somewhere else, and don’t tell any of your straight friends.

Having published the Express Gay News for four years from 1999-2004, and then operating SFGN from 2010 to today, this type of story is neither unusual nor surprising. It happens. Gay kids disappear.

Unfortunately, not all the stories have a happy ending. In fact, this week we have another story about a young kid from Jacksonville recently murdered after turning a trick. That could be the nightmare ending for Ryan. But I have seen lots of kids turn up in other states unwinding from a week long binge too. You never know. You can only hope.

Anyone with information about Ryan Uhre is urged to contact the Tallahassee Police Department at 850-606-5800, 24 hours a day, or call CrimeStoppers at 850-574-TIPS to remain anonymous. Information that leads to Uhre may be eligible for a reward.

However, here is the deal. Ryan is gay. He graduated St. Thomas Aquinas. He came out to his gay high school teacher a few years ago when he was living in South Florida. Unfortunately, I have no idea whether he was living an openly gay life in Tallahassee or whether there is an openly gay life to live there. But damn, I have watched seven news reports and read a dozen stories and no one wants to use the word ‘gay’ in their stories. It’s a journalistically unsound approach and flat out foolish. This is an investigation into someone’s disappearance.

Cops need as many clues as possible, and from reading these new stories, right now they have way too few. Investigators say they have little too go on, but what they have has brought them to our doorsteps in Wilton Manors and South Florida. Was it Ryan that was in fact seen in Wilton Manors? If so, the journey to invisibility may be self-generated. We may all look like fools if tomorrow he is found safe, but you don’t take that chance. What if he came here voluntarily, but something has gone awry since?

Unfortunately, you always think the worst first. You hear that his phone was turned on and quickly off here in Pompano Beach. Why? Was it just lost and found, and picked up randomly? Or did someone with more sinister motives use it? Is it evidence of a greater crime? Or could it have been found near where the young man’s body might be? Isn’t there the possibility he just tossed it himself, in order to disappear from the world for a week or two? We all feel that way sometimes.

We don’t know. We just don’t know. As a publisher, I have seen this story play out too many times. There have been both good and bad endings. Either way, it’s a story we have to write. Unfortunately, there are things we have to say which may make friends and loved ones feel uncomfortable. This is one of those days.

The bottom line for us is that right now a decent, good-looking kid, with devastated parents, and loving friends has gone lost, is missing, and needs to be found. The word on the street is that someone of his likeness appeared at Rosie’s Bar and Grille in Wilton Manors a few days ago. If that’s the case, maybe you saw him at the Alibi or Sidelines. Maybe someone you know saw him. Maybe it’s a false alarm, but it’s worth a second look and your time. We have a brother, a family member, missing and lost.

More than anything, if the image of someone going into Rosie’s is in fact Ryan Uhre, and he was in South Florida, then other local venues, straight or gay, will have his image too. Everyone has cameras, secretly recording our every move. Take a look. You may find a clue that could save the kid’s life. It seems like you can’t go to the 7-11 without someone taking a picture of you, so you have got to think somewhere somehow someone has seen or gotten a picture of Ryan or someone he may have been with.

The young man seems too responsible to have just voluntarily vanished. He graduated FSU last December, and has taken some post grad courses. He scored an internship in the legislature. He was part of a fraternity. But there is a woeful lack of information being released about who Ryan knew or where he may have gone.

Every news story is painfully short of facts, beyond that he was seen leaving Andrew’s Capital Grille and then a convenience store, in Tallahassee, alone. And no one is using the ‘gay word,’ which is sheer stupidity. It is the clue that could help us find him, or at the very least, give us a place to look.

Tragically, even his own father, traumatized by his son’s disappearance, won’t discuss his son’s sexuality. Three times on Tuesday, he hung up on me, stating that a discussion of this sort “won’t help anything.” Yes, it might, dad. Unfortunately, pained though you are, this lead could very well help open up hidden doors. Young gay men and women have been hiding behind them for too long.

Meanwhile, in a lonely section of Weston on Monday, on a deserted road, bystanders found the charred unidentifiable remains of a human body in the trunk of a burning car. As the medical examiner goes to work, one day soon some mother or father will have to face up to a horrible loss. It won’t matter then whether the person was black or white, straight or gay. But another human being will have been murdered in South Florida, and our community will be diminished just the same.

Editor's Update: Late last night, SFGN learned there has been no verifiable sighting of Ryan in South Florida. Additionally, neither local police agencies, FSU police or Tallahassee police have confirmed they received a credible tip placing him at Rosie's Bar and Grill. It is not known at this time how this lead was generated, who the source of it was, or if it is factually based. It appears to have been anonymous. Nevertheless, as the story has gone viral, more and more news sources are picking it up and relying upon it, though it may not be sustainable.

Here are a brief series of stories tracking the disappearance of Ryan Uhre.:
http://www.wctv.tv/news/bigstories/headlines/MISSING-FSU-STUDENT-Ryan-Uhre-244456701.html?device=tablet

Update:  February 12, 2014 1:30PM
 
The Tallahassee Police Department is continuing to follow all leads in the case of missing person,  Ryan Uhre.  While TPD has not ruled out Mr. Uhre being in the South Florida area, our investigators have been able to determine the “tip” regarding the use of a cell phone in the Pompano Beach area is false.  The tip was thoroughly vetted by TPD’s investigators, who worked closely with Verizon staff members and found the information to be an anomaly.  TPD has also determined the “tip” regarding Mr. Uhre being seen in the South Florida bar “Rosie’s” was in fact another person.
 
TPD continues to search for Mr. Uhre, following up on all leads and interviewing anyone who may have had contact with him on the night he was last seen.  At this time, there is no information to suggest foul play was involved in his case.  TPD is working around the clock to reunite Mr. Uhre with his family members and will not stop until he has been found.
 
As updates are available, they will be posted at www.talgov.com.


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