Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Lesbian Couple Beaten By Mob in Chicago; One Suspect Arrested

Terry Glover, 24, charged with anti-lesbian hate crimes and robbery in West Side Chicago neighborhood [Chicago PD photo].

Terry Glover, 24, charged with anti-lesbian hate crimes and robbery in West Side Chicago neighborhood [Chicago PD photo].

Chicago, Illinois – A mob of 10 men assaulted a lesbian couple, yelling anti-lesbian slurs as they pressed their attack on Saturday, July 6.  The Chicago Tribune reports that a single suspect, Terry Glover, 24, has been apprehended, and is being held in a Cook County jail on $1 million bail for two counts of felony hate crime and two counts of felony robbery.  The two women, aged 23 and 25, were robbed and beaten late in the night in the West Side neighborhood of Austin.  Nine other suspects remain at large.

In personal accounts of the harrowing attack, the women, who wish to remain unidentified, say that their assailants yelled that no “bitch dykes” were going to walk through their neighborhood.  The assault, they say, was initiated by Glover who was a former school classmate of one of the women.  The couple allege they were taunted for their sexual orientation, knocked to the ground, and kicked while they were down.  “It was punches, kicks, everything being thrown at us,” one of the victims told the Tribune. “We just held onto each other until somebody said, ‘Here come the police.'”  One of the women had her shirt ripped from her body during the attack, and the cash and cell phones of them both were taken.  The mob ran at the approach of police officers.

By Monday, Glover was in custody, and was hauled before a Cook County judge, according to DNAinfo Chicago.

The younger of the two women told the Tribune, “It really shouldn’t matter who I like or who I love. I should be able to walk the streets wherever I want to go and talk to whoever I want to talk to.”  

Meanwhile, in the wake of the Supreme Court decisions of last month, the violence against LGBTQ people in America continues, apparently unabated. Rick Garcia, policy director of The Civil Rights Agenda, a Chicago-based LGBTQ rights organization, told Tribune reporters, “We see cases like this all the time, all over the city and all over the state.  It shows that animosity toward lesbian and gay people is just below the surface. We think we’ve made such big gains, but right below the surface we see this animosity and violence.”

July 19, 2013 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, Gang violence, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Illinois, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, mob-violence and lynching, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, The Civil Rights Agenda (TCRA), women | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gay YouTube Sensation Steve Grand & All-American Reconciliation

Gay Country Singer/Songwriter Steve Grand [photo courtesy of Steve Grand]

Gay Country Singer/Songwriter Steve Grand [photo courtesy of Steve Grand]

Posted in “Gay Voices” on The Huffington Post, July 15, 2013.

Steve Grand, a formerly unknown singer/songwriter from Chicago, hit a nerve of longing and reconciliation with his County Music ballad of unrequited love, “All-American Boy.”  In less than two weeks since Grand put the video up on YouTube, the song has received nearly a million hits, measuring up favorably against the offerings of some of the most recognizable names in American music.  What makes “All-American Boy” so compelling at this time in our culture is the way Grand’s breathtaking roll-of-the-dice for love, approval, and self-acceptance touches the nation’s soul.

Betting everything on one video, Grand maxed out his single credit card and drew on the kindness of friends to put together the story of a campfire crush that leads to a single kiss, and then to a gentle, heartbreaking rebuff.  All the elements of the familiar story of unreciprocated love are there: desire, forlorn hope, vulnerability, the awkward kiss, rejection, and then the disappointment and the aching hurt that go with it.  But Grand injects the story with a crucial twist that only could work today: the unrequited lover and his object of desire are both men.

Grand’s back story provides the spiritual energy that connects his song with the life experiences of so many people.  The child of a Catholic Midwestern family who discovered his attraction for his own gender at age 13 in Boy Scout Camp, Grand came out to his disapproving parents who put him through several years of “straight therapy.”  It didn’t work.  Closeted but gay, Grand struggled with shame and self-doubt into adulthood, feeling like a disappointment to his parents, and led a furtive life so many gays and lesbians can relate to.  Music gave him joy and passion, but to make ends meet, he took odd jobs, modeling stints, and, ironically, singing gigs in churches.   Finally, unable and unwilling to endure the self-betrayal of the closeted life, Grand came out as gay in one, stunning moment, telling his story to the world in “All-American Boy.”

The soul of America is responding to Steve Grand in a powerful way, searching for reconciliation between LGBTQ people and a heterosexual majority who are striving to understand them.  Spiritually, reconciliation is more compelling than rejection, since its motive energy comes from love.  It is the power that drew pagan Ruth to Hebrew Naomi, the force that reconciled the Prodigal Son first to his father, and then to his older, disapproving brother.  It is the way of justice the prophets walked, paving the way for estranged humanity and a seeking God to reach out to each other and embrace.

In a time of seemingly hopeless political gridlock in Washington, war fatigue at home and anxiety over Egypt, Syria, and the Middle East, not to mention frustration with the NSA’s invasion of personal privacy in the name of national security, Steve Grand’s gracious, plaintive song cuts through the defensiveness and aggression of this age.  It is the pure invitation of a son to his parents, of a lover to his beloved, and of millions of oft-rejected citizens to their country: “Be mine.”

Hundreds of thousands have taken Steve up on his offer so far.  He has remained humble in his newfound success.  The only thanks he says he wants is in the email messages from people who recognize their story in his.  His greatest moment so far is the admission of his mother that she and his father are finally proud of him, just the way he is.  The “All-American Boy” is reconciling with himself and his world, and now Steve says he is truly happy and at peace for the first time in his life.

Steve Grand is no media messiah, no lawyered-up diva . . . yet.  May he never be.  He is enough like most Americans that we feel the pull to reconcile at least some of our differences with each other when we hear him sing.  His heartfelt cry awakens something in the American spirit Abraham Lincoln called, “the better angels of our nature.”   Perhaps songs and stories like Steve’s will prompt more healing and understanding between gays and straights than any legislation or court ruling ever could.  Of course, there will be losses.  Unrequited love does not have to end in bitterness and despair, however.  It may become the engine of a future reconciliation, an invitation not to settle with failure, but to get ourselves up, reach out again, and pursue the peace we all long for.

July 16, 2013 Posted by | "All American Boy", Boy Scouts of America, gay men, GLBTQ, Huffington Post, Illinois, LGBTQ, Reconciliation, Reparative Therapy, Roman Catholic Church and Homosexuality, Steve Grand | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Transgender Woman of Color Murdered in Chicago

Paige Clay, transgender woman shot to death in Chicago (Brian Turner photo)

Chicago, Illinois – A young transgender woman of color was found shot in the head in the West Garfield Park area of Chicago.  Paige Clay, 23, was found dead in an alley in the early morning hours of April 16, according to the Windy City Times.  No one has been arrested in connection with her murder.  Police are still actively investigating the brutal shooting.

Members of the Chicago LGBTQ support community and participants in the Chicago Ball scene who knew and loved Ms. Clay identified the body for authorities. Mina Ross, Ms. Clay’s “ball mother” deeply mourns her protegé’s passing.  Ms. Ross describes Ms. Clay as “rambunctious,” beautiful, hard to get to know at first, but a strongly loyal friend to those who took the time to get behind Ms. Clay’s self-protective exterior.  Ms. Ross told reporters that Ms. Clay was just beginning to find herself. “She grew into a beautiful, beautiful young woman,” Ms. Ross said. “I was so devastated by this [loss] .”

Ms. Clay was becoming a significant presence on the Chicago Ball scene, where her runway work, her innovative sense of style and fashion, and her charismatic persona were winning her friends and winning competitions.  She had even begun to win out-of-state competitions, according to Ms. Ross.  But she was also targeted by discrimination and violence according to her friends, as are so many transgender women of color in the Windy City and around the nation.

She had grown up in tough circumstances with little family support.  At an early age, Ms. Clay had found LGBTQ support services, and was a well-known client for many years. In recent years, she had found steady jobs with McDonald’s and Wendy’s restaurants, as well as Fashion 21. She had managed to secure her own apartment, a matter of considerable pride for her. Most importantly, she had attracted a large queer family of choice, one that is coming to her defense in the press, and clamoring for police action to solve her savage murder. Since few family members remained in touch with Ms. Clay, friends and ball scene associates stepped in to stand vigil over her memory while officials searched for next-of-kin to receive her remains.  Funeral arrangements are pending.

The Center on Halsted, where Ms. Clay had become a familiar presence through the years, issued a statement to the press concerning her murder, according to the Examiner.  Chief Executive Officer of the Center, Modesto Tico Valle, said, “Though we do not have all the details, this news is extremely disturbing, especially as severe violence against transgender women is all too common. Transgender women face some of the highest rates of violence and abuse in our nation. This is the third reported murder of a transgender woman in the U.S. in April alone. We must work together to create more safety in our world for all people, especially those most targeted.” 

A “Justice for Paige” Facebook site has been opened for the express purpose of gathering information on the murder, and to insure that “ANOTHER ONE OF OURS JUST WON’ T BE SWEPT UNDER THE RUG,” as the site creators say.

April 23, 2012 Posted by | African Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Center on Halsted, GLBTQ, gun violence, Hate Crimes, Illinois, LGBTQ, transgender persons, transphobia, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Illinois Teen Sentenced for Gay Bashing

Marquitte West, 18, sentenced in gay bashing attack (Kendall County photo)

Yorkville, Illinois- An 18-year-old man was sentenced by an Illinois court to two years in prison for his role in a violent attack upon a gay man.  Marquitte West was found guilty of hate crime related to sexual orientation for participating in a gang attack against 29-year-old gay man Bryce Stiff in June 2010.  Both men are from Oswego, Illinois, a city of 30,000 in the northern part of the state.  Two other Oswego men, Jabari Tuggles and Robert Franklin, are being held in prison awaiting their trials for the same offense. A third man is still being sought by the police.

Stiff suffered severe injuries in the attack, leaving him with nerve damage to his face, and a lip so harmed that he has required reconstructive surgery.  He has lingering psychological problems since the savage assault, as well.  In a letter to the court prior to West’s sentencing, Stiff wrote, “I used to be a happy, caring and loving person who would do anything to help anyone.  I was happy about me being gay … but now I’m filled with so much bitterness, hatred and I’m very depressed. I don’t like leaving my home. I don’t like doing things that excite me anymore. I feel like everyone is out to get me.”

According to Chicago Pride, West will serve out his sentence in conjunction with a theft charge.  He is required by the court to pay his victim’s medical costs.  The Kendall County District Attorney told Chicago Pride that this is the first hate crimes prosecution he can recall in county history.

November 10, 2011 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, Gang violence, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Illinois, LGBTQ, Perpetrators of Hate Crime | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is History: We Must Not Forget Its Cost

Washington, D.C. – Today marks the advent of full repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the 1993 law making gay and lesbian servicemembers liable for discharge if they admitted their sexual orientation.  While there will be celebrations and night watch parties throughout the nation marking this historic day in the struggle for LGBTQ equality, we cannot afford to forget the terrible cost anti-gay discrimination has wrought in the Armed Forces of the United States.  So, today, we lift up the lives and patriotic service of four gay men who died because of the ignorance and bigotry of other servicemembers, and the systemic bigotry of the services themselves which at best permitted these murders, and at worst encouraged them.

Seaman August Provost of Houston, Texas, was shot to death on duty in a Camp Pendleton guard shack, and his remains were burned to erase the evidence of the deed on June 30, 2009 in San Diego, California. He had recently complained to his family that a fellow servicemember was harassing him because of his sexual orientation.  He feared speaking with his superiors about the harassment because of the threat of discharge due to DADT.  His partner in life, Kaether Cordero of Houston, said, “People who he was friends with, I knew that they knew. He didn’t care that they knew. He trusted them.”  Seaman Provost joined the Navy in 2008 to gain benefits to finish school, where he was studying to become an architectural engineer.

Private First Class Michael Scott Goucher, a veteran of the Iraq War, was murdered near his home in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, on February 4, 2009 by an assailant who stabbed him at least twenty times. Known locally as “Mike on a Bike” by neighbors and friends, Goucher was an assistant organist for a congregation of the United Church of Christ, and Captain of the neighborhood Crime Watch.  He also was a selectively closeted gay man, hiding his sexual orientation from his community. Goucher survived deployment in Iraq, only to meet death at the hands of homophobes back home.

Private First Class Barry Winchell of Kansas City, Missouri, was bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat as he slept in his barracks by a member of his unit at Fort Campbell, Kentucky on July 6, 1999.  Winchell had fallen in love with a transgender woman, Calpurnia Adams, who lived in Nashville, Tennessee.  In the fallout from his murder, President Bill Clinton ordered a review of DADT, which resulted in the addition of a “Don’t Harass” amendment to the policy, but little else. The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, who represented Winchell’s parents in litigation with the U.S. Army, demanded to know who in the upper ranks of Fort Campbell knew of the murder and its subsequent cover up.  The commandant of the fort was promoted over the objections of many human rights advocates. Winchell’s story has been immortalized by the 2003 film, “Soldier’s Girl.”

Petty Officer Third Class Allen R. Schindler Jr. of Chicago Heights, Illinois was murdered on October 27, 1992 in a public toilet on base in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan. His killer was a shipmate who despised Schindler for being gay. He had been outed while on board the U.S.S. Belleau Wood, and was supposedly under the protection of his superiors until he could be separated from the service.  Schindler had called his mother to tell her to expect him home by Christmas.  Instead, the Navy shipped his savaged remains home to Chicago Heights before Thanksgiving.  The only way family members could identify his remains was by a tattoo of the U.S.S. Midway on his forearm.  Otherwise, he was beaten so brutally that his uncle, sister, and mother could not tell he was their boy.  Schindler’s murder was presented as a reason DADT should never have been enacted, but authorities in Washington brushed his story aside and enacted the ban against gays in the military anyway. Schindler’s story is told at length in Unfinished Lives: Reviving the Memories of LGBTQ Hate Crimes Victims, authored by the founder of the Unfinished Lives Project, Dr. Stephen Sprinkle.

We at Unfinished Lives celebrate the repeal of DADT tonight with thanksgiving for the courage of lesbian and gay servicemembers who chose to serve their country in the military though their country chose not to honor them.  More than 13,500 women and men were drummed out of the service under DADT.  But in addition to the thousands who faced discharge and shame, we cannot forget, we must not forget, the brave souls who died at the hands of irrational hatred and ignorance–the outworking of a blatantly discriminatory policy that never should have blighted the annals of American history.  The four lives we remember here are representative of hundreds, perhaps thousands more, whose stories demonstrate the lengths to which institutions and governments will go to preserve homophobia and heterosexism.  We will remember with thanksgiving our gay and lesbian dead, for to forget them would be to contribute to the ills wrought by DADT.

September 20, 2011 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Beatings and battery, Blame the victim, Bludgeoning, California, DADT, Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT), gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, gun violence, harassment, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Illinois, immolation, Kentucky, Latino and Latina Americans, Law and Order, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, military, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Protests and Demonstrations, Remembrances, Repeal of DADT, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, Slashing attacks, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, stabbings, Stomping and Kicking Violence, Tennessee, Texas, transgender persons, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Marines, U.S. Navy, Vigils, Washington, D.C. | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Unfinished Lives Book Debuts in DC and Dallas

Interfaith Peace Chapel on the Campus of Cathedral of Hope, Dallas, Texas

Washington DC – Unfinished Lives: Reviving the Memories of LGBTQ Hate Crimes Victims, made its debut at the annual meeting of the Forum on the Military Chaplaincy this past Friday. Dr. Stephen Sprinkle will kick off a series of book signing events nationally, beginning with a lecture, panel discussion, book signing and reception at the Interfaith Peace Chapel on the campus of the Cathedral of Hope in Dallas, Texas, next Sunday, March 27. The Cathedral of Hope, a congregation of the United Church of Christ, is the world’s largest LGBTQ-predominant faith community. Members of the Forum on the Military Chaplaincy, meeting at the headquarters of the Human Rights Campaign in Washington, received the book with enthusiasm. Dr. Sprinkle was a guest at the 19th Annual Servicemembers Legal Defense Network Dinner, held at the National Building Museum on F Street. A stellar gathering of LGBTQ heroes and their allies celebrated the Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and honored two mothers of gay servicemembers who were murdered because of their sexual orientation. Dorothy Hajdys-Clausen of Chicago Heights, Illinois, the mother of slain sailor Allen R. Schindler, and Pat Kuteles of Kansas City, Missouri, mother of murdered soldier Barry Winchell, were given a standing ovation.  A chapter on Schindler, “Hell to Pay on the Belleau Wood,” is in Unfinished Lives, and Winchell has been featured in this blog repeatedly. A panel discussion is planned for the March 27th book signing event at the Interfaith Peace Chapel in response to a short lecture by Dr. Sprinkle.  Dr. Keri Day, Assistant Professor of Theological Ethics and Director of Brite Divinity School’s Black Church Studies Program, Pastor Alex Byrd of Living Faith Covenant Church of Dallas, and Colonel Paul Dodd, U.S. Army  Chaplain (Ret) of Austin will be on the panel. The event is scheduled from 3:30 until 5:30 pm.  Dr. Sprinkle will be signing his book following the 9 am and the 11 am services at the Cathedral that morning in the Sources of Hope Bookstore. Cathedral of Hope is located at 5910 Cedar Springs Road in Dallas. For more information about the book signings on Sunday, March 27, contact Sue Schrader at sschrader@cathedralofhope.com, or Brian Parman at bparman@cathedralofhope.com.

March 20, 2011 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Cathedral of Hope, Forum on the Military Chaplaincy, gay men, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Human Rights Campaign, Human Rights Campaign Religion and Faith Program, Illinois, Lesbian women, military, Military Chaplaincy, Missouri, Remembrances, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, Social Justice Advocacy, Texas, transgender persons, transphobia, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, Unfinished Lives Book Signings, Washington, D.C. | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Coretta Scott King on Gay and Lesbian Rights: Happy MLK Day from Unfinished Lives

‎”Gays and lesbians stood up for civil rights in Montgomery, Selma, in Albany, Georgia, and St. Augustine, Florida, and many other campaigns of the Civil Rights Movement. Many of these courageous men and women were fighting for my freedom at a time when they could find few voices for their own, and I salute their contributions.” ~ Coretta Scott King, 25th anniversary luncheon for Lambda Defense and Education Fund, quoted in the Chicago Tribune, April 1, 1998

January 17, 2011 Posted by | African Americans, Bisexual persons, gay men, Illinois, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Lesbian women, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Racism, Remembrances, Social Justice Advocacy, transgender persons | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Repeal and Remembrance: Gay Military Martyrs and the End of DADT

Fallen Military Servicemembers

Washington, DC – On a red letter day when lawmakers voted to end the most notorious anti-gay policy in the federal canon, LGBT servicemembers and veterans who have been murdered because of their sexual and gender non-conformity must not be forgotten during the celebrations over passage of repeal of DADT.  In a historic vote in the history of the human rights movement, the U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly to end the ban on LGBT patriots from serving openly in the armed services of the United States.  Saturday afternoon, 65 Senators voted for repeal with 31 in opposition. A simple majority of 51 was all that was required for passage of the Senate bill, which is identical to the one passed earlier in the week  by the House of Representatives. Eight GOP Senators joined their Democratic colleagues to pass the repeal of the 17-year-old discriminatory policy that ended the military careers of 13,500 women and men because of their sexual orientation. Joe Manchin, the freshman Senator for West Virginia, was the only Democrat not voting for passage.  According to the New York Times, his office informed the public that he had a “family commitment” he could not break.The bill now goes to President Obama for his signature to set the repeal in motion.  GOP opponents of the repeal criticized the Democratic leadership of the Senate for the vote in the lame duck session just before the Holiday recess.  Senator Carl Levin, the chair of the Senate Armed Service Committee, disputed the Republican claims that Democrats were ramming legislation through just to please the so-called “gay lobby.” In remarks to the New York Times, Senator Levin (D-Michigan) said: “I’m not here for partisan reasons. I’m here because men and women wearing the uniform of the United States who are gay and lesbian have died for this country, because gay and lesbian men and women wearing the uniform of this country have their lives on the line right now.” Yet it is not only for the living that this vote is significant. Our military dead are honored by this historic vote to end anti-LGBT discrimination, among whom are far too many gay servicemembers who were killed because of their sexual orientation. Our gay military martyrs, murdered because of homophobia, heterosexism, and transphobia in the armed services loom large in the memory of the LGBTQ community today because they are both a sign of hope and caution. They are a sign of hope that no more women and men need lose their lives in the military because of their sexual orientation and gender presentation. They are a sign of caution, because the passage of DADT repeal in no way guarantees the end of anti-gay violence in the military.  We must name our LGBT military dead until violence against queer servicemembers ceases forever: Seaman Allen Schindler was beaten to death by shipmates in a public toilet in Sasebo, Japan. PFC Barry Winchell was murdered with a baseball bat in the Army barracks at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Seaman August Provost was shot to death on base in San Diego, and then his body was set afire in a guard shack in the vain attempt to destroy evidence of the murder. Army veteran Michael Scott Goucher was lured into a fatal ambush by local youths near his home in Pennsylvania. These four are representative of the many more slaughtered by ignorance and hate by fellow servicemembers and civilians. Pundits say that after President Obama signs the Repeal Act into law, it will still take at least sixty days for the military ban to be lifted for LGBT military personnel. Until that time, the current discriminatory law stays in effect. But the culture of violence that harasses and kills LGBT women and men who wear the uniform remains virulently poised to take more lives until the root of fear is eliminated in the armed services.  To that end, the historic passage of the end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is simply the beginning of a new campaign, in the name of our gay military martyrs, to replace the fear and loathing of the sexual minority with education and respect.

December 19, 2010 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Asian Americans, Bisexual persons, Bludgeoning, California, DADT, Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT), gay men, gun violence, harassment, Hate Crimes, hate crimes prevention, Heterosexism and homophobia, Illinois, immolation, Kentucky, Latino and Latina Americans, Law and Order, Legislation, Lesbian women, military, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Politics, Remembrances, Special Comments, Texas, transgender persons, transphobia, U.S. Army, U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Marines, U.S. Navy, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C. | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gay Jews in Chicago Targeted by Terrorists

Chicago, IL – A predominantly gay and lesbian synagogue in Chicago was specifically targeted for a terrorist attack this past weekend.  Though the plot was foiled by law enforcement, Chicago’s Jewish community is on alert.  The terrorist plot, originating in Yemen and thought to be the work of Al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula, involved explosive-filled packages to be delivered to Or Chadesh, a congregation of around a hundred gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people and their families, that worships in space rented from Emmanuel Congregation, on the north side of Chicago.  According to WLS Radio reports, a highly placed Jewish source informed Emmanuel’s Rabbi Michael Zedek that the LGBTQ synagogue his congregation housed one of two Jewish houses of worship to be targeted in the Chicago area.  Zedek, in turn, communicated with the spiritual leader of the Or Chadesh congregation, Rabbi Larry Edwards, to let him know about the plot to attack the LGBTQ congregation.  Rabbi Edwards told WLS that members of his flock took the news “rather calmly,” saying that their identity as an LGBTQ synagogue may have been an added reason for terrorists to choose their congregation for an attack.  Rabbi Edwards said to The Advocate: “Immediately, you kind of think, ‘well, [representing the gay community], maybe that makes us an additional target…. It could be totally random, somebody went on the Internet and picked a couple of synagogues.” The FBI has affirmed that religious institutions in the Chicago area were specifically chosen by terrorists in the Yemen-based plot, but the FBI has refused to confirm that Or Chadesh (and another, predominantly heterosexual Jewish congregation) was singled out for the attack.  Rabbi Edwards says he is puzzled that he and Or Chadesh had not been informed by federal officials.  Edwards told a reporter for WLS: “How did you find me? If you could do it, the FBI could do it. … I haven’t heard anything (from the FBI).” Still, Rabbi Edwards and his congregation are “grateful that the system worked in this case and law enforcement tracked [the plot] down.” Press and police came to the Friday services at Emmanuel Congregation, as well as supporters from the community.  Rabbi Zedek said that Emmanuel routinely provides a security service whenever anyone is in the building, and has done so for a long time.  He did not plan for extra security measures to be implemented at this time.  “We’ll operate as business as usual,” Rabbi Zedek said.  “That is part of the usual business that has come to our world.” According to the Wall Street Journal, Zedek and other leaders at Congregation Emmanuel discovered that the syangogue website has been visited “dozens of times” by sources in Egypt.  Zedek has informed the FBI, and leads are being followed. Prior to nesting with Emmanuel Congregation, LGBTQ-predominant Or Chadesh rented space from Second Unitarian Church in the Lakeview area.  Pastor Adam Robersmith of the Unitarian congregation told reporters that he had heard of the possibility that Or Chadesh had been selected by the terrorist in the failed attack, but he also said that he had no reason to believe his congregation was in any peril.

November 1, 2010 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Anti-Semitism, Bisexual persons, Bombs and explosives, FBI, gay men, Hate Crimes, hate crimes prevention, Heterosexism and homophobia, Illinois, Law and Order, Lesbian women, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, synagogue bombing, transgender persons, transphobia, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Murder Most Foul: Transgender Holocaust in the United States

trans day of remembrance collageChicago, IL – The Great Lakes Regional Editor of EDGE reports that the slaughter of transgender persons in the United States has already gone 12 per cent higher than last year at this time, and the grim statistics are growing.  Joseph Erbentraut, in his important essay, “Violence Against the Transgendered Only Getting Worse,” published on edgeonthenet.com, notes that the silence and invisibility common to LGBT hate crime murders is intensified for transgender Americans.  As in the case of Paulina Ibarra, the lives of transgender victims are often ignored until a more culturally sensational aspect of the crime surfaces, as it did in the August stabbing death of the East Los Angeles Latina transwoman when a known parole jumper surfaced as a “person of interest” in the investigation.  Until then, Ibarra’s brutal murder was largely neglected, even by the LGBT press, and her life has been reduced to a string of seamy innuendoes and a few glam photos.  Other notorious instances this year have been the broad-daylight attack on Ty’lia “Nana Boo-Boo” Mack in D.C. last month, Lateisha Green, shot to death in Syracuse, NY last November, Angie Zapata, bludgeoned to death with a fire extinguisher in Greeley, CO last July, and Duanna Johnson and Ebony Whitaker who died on the streets of  Memphis, TN last November and July, respectively.  According to Erbentraut, the media are largely to blame for this stunning neglect of one of the most important human rights stories of 2009: “Underreporting from official statistics leaves the issue in the hands of media outlets, which have historically been known for problems identifying victims’ genders through using incorrect names and pronouns,” he writes.   “The past year has also seen a number of examples of media programs condoning violence against the community,” Erbentraut continues, “including a radio news program on KRXQ Sacramento which referred to gender dysphoric children as ‘idiots’ and ‘freaks.’ Co-host Arnie States said he ‘[looked] forward to when [transgender children] go out into society and society beats them down…'”  While 32 states have some form of hate crime legislation that increases the penalty for violence against LGB people, only 11 have statutes covering their transgender population.  Only Brazil, with 80 transgender murders this year, has a larger number of transgender killings than the United States.  Until gays, lesbians, and bisexual people and their allies begin to take violence against transgender people, especially transgender people of color, as seriously as they do crimes against themselves, this deplorable trend will surely continue.

September 30, 2009 Posted by | African Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Bludgeoning, California, Colorado, gun violence, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Illinois, Latino and Latina Americans, Law and Order, Legislation, Media Issues, New York, Social Justice Advocacy, stabbings, Tennessee, transgender persons, transphobia, Washington, D.C. | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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