How 2 Lives Collided in Central Park, Rattling the Nation

“‘The X-Men’ was a perfect parable for the gay experience,” he told Wired Magazine in an interview in 1998. “The X-Men looked like everyone else, but they learned a deep secret in adolescence that made them different.”

In the late 1980s, Mr. Cooper served on the board of directors of GLAAD, formerly the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, and set up his own political action committee to support Democrats for the New York Senate, according to a biography on “Gay USA,” a televised news show about gay issues, which Mr. Cooper occasionally hosts.

In 1998 he launched “Queer Nation,” a pioneering gay web comic that envisioned L.G.B.T.Q. superheroes fighting the scourge of a right-wing world order. It was partly inspired by his parents, he told Wired, who were active in the civil rights movement.

Mr. Cooper is now a senior editor at Health Science Communications, a public relations agency for the health care industry. But his résumé does not diminish the universality to his experience as a black man, some have pointed out.

“I have no doubt that if the police had showed up in the Ramble, a wooded area of the park where Chris had gone bird watching, my brother’s Ivy League degree and impressive résumé would not have protected him,” his sister, Melody, wrote in an Op-Ed in The New York Times on May 31.

In a series of posts, Marie Javins, a former colleague, tried to make sense of what happened.

“If you’d asked me ‘What do you think Christian would be famous for,’ I’d have guessed for something he’d written, a science-fiction book or maybe the Star Trek comic he used to write where he introduced the first gay character in the history of Star Trek,” she wrote.

She said she never would have expected it would be because a white woman “used the term ‘African-American man’ as a weapon.”

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