Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Gay Homeless Man Attacked at Tennessee Tent City

Glenn Ortmann, beaten unconscious by a mob of fellow homeless men after revealing his sexual orientation [ WSMV image].

Murfreesboro, Tennessee – A mob of homeless men attacked and beat a fellow homeless man unconscious because he is gay.  The victim, Glen Ortmann, has given the police names of suspects in his recent hate crime attack, and now lives in fear in “Tent City,” a homeless camp near CSX railroad tracks–the only place in Murfreesboro Ortmann says he can live because of his homelessness.  WSMV, the NBC affiliate, reports that police are investigating the case to corroborate the anti-gay hate crime status of the assault.

Ortmann, who became homeless a couple of months ago, attempted to find shelter in charity housing, but, as he learned, there are very few options for homeless men in Murfreesboro. After revealing his sexual orientation to other men living in Tent City this past weekend, Ortmann says he was ambushed, beaten, and left unconscious with an eye swollen shut, and his whole body racked with pain.   “It was a big crowd, and all I remembered really is being hit once or twice and being knocked out cold,” Ortmann said to WSMV.

As The New Civil Rights Movement reports, Ortmann is crystal clear on the reason for the brutal assault.  “I was beat up because I was gay,” he said. “It’s considered a hate crime. It’s against the law to put your hands on someone to begin with.”  Now, he sleeps fitfully, expecting another attack at any time. Ortmann is considering moving to Nashville for his own safety, but his prospects are bleak there, too.  “It makes it 10 times harder when you’re gay and homeless at the same time,” he explained to WSMV.

Local authorities say that the hate crime aspect of this case is important. Sgt. Kyle Evans, Murfreesboro police spokesman, told reporters for WSMV, “The reporting officer indicated the bias motivation for the attack was anti-homosexual. If that is indeed the case, not only could they be facing these assault charges; they could be facing more serious charges.”  

Meanwhile, Ortmann is recovering from both physical and psychic wounds in an environment where he fears for his life. “It’s bad enough where I have to keep watch, keep an eye over my shoulder the entire time,” he said. “It’s pretty bad right now to the point that I don’t sleep that many hours now.”

November 17, 2012 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, gay bashing, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, LGBTQ, Tennessee, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Lesbian Viciously Attacked at Memphis Bar

Jackie Lloyd, brutally attacked because of her sexual orientation in Memphis.

Memphis, Tennessee – A lesbian suffered a brutal beating Sunday, June 24 at a Memphis bar and restaurant while casually speaking with a former high school classmate, WMC-TV 5 reports. Jackie Lloyd told reporters that the attack which broke her nose in two places and left her face severely swollen came out of the blue.  “I think it has everything to do with my sexuality,” Lloyd said.

Brandon Hooper, 28, boyfriend of Lloyd’s classmate, charged across the patio of Celtic Crossing, shouting gay slurs.  According to Lloyd, Huffington Post reports the moment of the unprovoked violence: “This guy says you f**king dyke and slams me right in the nose and I fell back about three feet… he called me a f**king lesbian, [he said] ‘problem solved, you f**cking lesbian.’” Police apprehended Hooper and charged him with aggravated assault for the attack.  When questioned by the press about possible hate crimes charges in the case, the Memphis District Attorney said that such charges would have to come from the FBI. Lloyd says her contacts in the Memphis Police Department indicate that an FBI investigation into her case may be pending.

Lloyd says she had never met Hooper before the assault.  She believes that his homophobia triggered the brutality simply because she was speaking to Hooper’s girlfriend. Lloyd wants her chance to confront her attacker, and give him a piece of her mind.  “You know, I’d like to say to him I want to live a normal life just like everybody else,” Lloyd said to WMC-TV. “And what you did is terrible,” she added.

For Lloyd and the besieged Tennessee LGBTQ community, intolerance is an everyday fact of life. Right wing politicians in the legislature of the Volunteer State have tried to ban the use of the words “gay” and “lesbian” in Tennessee public schools (Don’t Say “Gay” Bill), worked to make bathrooms off limits to transgender persons (Bathroom Bill), and have attempted to protect bias driven speech against LGBTQ school students when the perpetrators claim a religious motivation (License to Bully Bill).

The attack against Lloyd marks the second grave anti-lesbian incident in recent weeks. Two teenage lesbian lovers were shot near Corpus Christi, Texas on June 10, leaving one girl dead and the other seriously wounded.

 

July 1, 2012 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, FBI, gay bashing, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Slurs and epithets, Tennessee | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Another Tennessee Gay Teen Bullied to Death

Phillip Parker, 14: Bullied for being gay, he felt life was not worth living.

Gordonsville, Tennessee – The body of a 14-year-old gay boy was found by his parents and grandparents Friday, along with a suicide note begging his mother to help him. Phillip Parker committed suicide after being relentlessly bullied for his sexual orientation at Gordonsville High School. WSMV reports that Parker’s parents learned the magnitude of the bullying problem in the school only after he took his life.

This latest gay teen suicide takes place in a state riven with anti-gay controversy.  Recent “Don’t Say Gay,” “License to Bully,” and anti-transgender “Bathroom” bills are making their way through the Tennessee State Legislature, all attempting to stigmatize and debase LGBTQ people. Correlations have been made between high profile anti-gay news stories and a heightened number of violent incidents involving LGBTQ people around the nation.

Young Phillip was the person most likely to tell friends they were beautiful.  His mom said he was energetic, loving, fun, and happy.  But his grandmother reported to WSMV that he confided to her that he was burdened by the bullying, “like he had a big rock on his chest.”  The family said they had complained about the bullying to school officials, but the problem only got worse.

News 5 reports that over a hundred contacts with the Parker family after Phillip’s death added details to the bullying situation at the school. The family said some of these stories showed just how obvious the anti-gay bullying had become there.  His grandfather, Paul Harris, said to News 5: “Because he was gay, he got mistreated physically, mentally by several people out there at the school, and I am very resentful as a result of it. A sweet kind person like Phillip took it out on himself, he killed himself to get out of the pain.” 

No cause of death has yet been officially released by law enforcement authorities.  School officials have not returned calls for comment to the press.

January 23, 2012 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Bullycide, Bullying in schools, gay teens, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, LGBTQ suicide, Tennessee, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Transphobic “Bathroom Bill” Introduced in TN Legislature

Nashville, Tennessee – A bill making the use of a bathroom by transgender persons a punishable offense is making its way through the Tennessee Legislation, according to Daily Kos.  Transgender people are put in an insidious double-bind by the proposed bill: if passed, it will fine a person for the use of a restroom if the sex on that person’s birth certificate does not match the assigned sex of the toilet, while Tennessee does not allow for the sex assignment on a person’s birth certificate to be changed.  The “Bathroom Bill” imposes a monetary fine on offenders – $50 – but the fine is the least of the legislation’s harm to transgender people.  As Daily Kos and the Huffington Post point out, this bill would embed structural discrimination against a class of people into state law, much as sodomy laws did before the Lawrence v. Texas ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court struck them down across the nation in 2003.

The Volunteer State has entertained some of the most regressive, homophobic laws in the nation, typified by the reprehensible “Don’t Say Gay” and “License to Bully” bills, and as long as the radical, extremist right wing is in power in the state, the cavalcade of bias-driven laws is unlikely to stop.  The “Don’t Say Gay” bill bans use of the words “gay” or “homosexual” in a Tennessee public school classroom (while, as Signorile says, “pervert” or “sodomite” are fine!) to prevent teaching or discussion about same-sex issues.  The “License to Bully” bill, if passed, would offer protections to students who attack the legitimacy of homosexuality as a normal human variation–in effect offering cover to people who wish to bully LGBTQ students.

In a major national survey issued in October 2011, the first of its kind, transgender people in the United States were shown to be the object of discrimination in every sector of life.  The Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Study, “Injustice at Every Turn,” noted that “It is a part of social and legal convention in the United States to discriminate against, ridicule, and abuse transgender and gender non-conforming people within foundational institutions such as the family, schools, the workplace and healthcare settings, every day.”  This amounts to a colossal moral failure in American life, and the Tennessee bill is of a piece with this systematic and structural bias-attack on transgender people.

The ACLU decries anti-transgender “bathroom bills,” seeing such laws as fundamentally violating non-discrimination laws.  Social advocacy groups within the state, such as the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition (TTPC), are opposing the bill, which was introduced by State Senator Bo Watson (R) to make Tennessee, in the words of Think Progress, “a particularly unfriendly place for transgender people.” The text of the “Bathroom Bill” may be accessed here.

As transgender advocate Ryan Sallans, writes in his popular blogsite, “I’m thinking of all you folks down in Tennessee. When is this sh*t going to stop? I just wish politicians didn’t exist, the world would be a better place. Communities should just sit down and talk, get to know each other, respect their differences and understand we all are just trying to live and make it mean something in a challenging world.”  When will the sh*t stop, indeed! (Thanks for links to Dr. Jason Lamoreaux).

January 12, 2012 Posted by | Bullying in schools, gay teens, GLBTQ, harassment, Heterosexism and homophobia, Lawrence v. Texas, LGBTQ, Social Justice Advocacy, Tennessee, transgender persons, transphobia, U.S. Supreme Court | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gay Tennessee Teens Face Potential “License to Bully” Law

TN students protesting anti-gay legislation (Tennessean image)

Nashville, Tennessee – A “License to Bully” gay students bill will be on the Tennessee Legislature docket this winter–and is already facing criticism from progressives. The bill would protect anti-gay students when they frame their homophobic feelings in religious language. WSMV4  reports that conservative lawmakers are presenting the bill, SB 760/HB 1153,  making outspoken anti-gay statements in Tennessee schools legal “if that is what religious beliefs call for.”  Like opponents of human rights around the nation, Volunteer State conservatives such as FACT (Family Action Council of Tennessee) are framing the bill as a matter of freedom of speech and freedom of religion.  Fox News 17 quotes progressive high school student Emmanuelle Loyer in opposition to the “License to Bully” bill.  Loyer said anti-gay students will take advantage of the protections the bill offers: “They can say cruel things they want to say under that protection.”  Loyer went on to say that supporters of the bill are dangerously misinformed about realities in today’s public schools. “I don’t think they realize how cruel high school students can be,” she said.

The Tennessee Equality Project (TEP) opposes the bill and its intent. Jonathan Cole of the TEP said, “It’s time for Tennesseans to stop using children as pawns for social, religious and political agendas. We need to be focusing on ways to ensure that Tennessee students receive an education free from bullying, harassment and intimidation.”  In a statement to the press, the TEP said, “The religious liberty and free speech rights of students are already protected by the U.S. Constitution. This legislation would give special protections to students of a particular religious point of view. If made into law, FACT  would give students a ‘license to bully’ that allows them to hide their irrational biases behind an extreme religious belief.” 

Already under assault from the “Don’t Say Gay” (HB0229/SB0049) bill last year, LGBTQ students and their allies in public schools are organizing to fight for vulnerable youth and teachers who are targeted for harassment, slurs, and harm. The Tennessean warned that harassment of gay youth already has already proved lethal, as in the case of Jacob Rogers, Cheatham County Central High senior who took his own life in response to years of relentless bullying based on his perceived sexual orientation.

Against the claims of FACT and right-wing lawmakers, the Tennessee Equality Project quotes a recent study in the Journal Pediatrics showing “an association between an objective measure of the social environment and suicide attempts among lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth. The social environment appears to confer risk for suicide attempts over and above individual-level risk factors. These results have important implications for the development of policies and interventions to reduce sexual orientation–related disparities in suicide attempts.”

Conservatives ignore these documented connections and protest against using the stories of gay teen suicides in the debate on the “License to Bully” bill. At a time when Tennessee lawmakers should be offering more protections for LGBTQ students, they are poised to take Tennessee in the direction of shielding homophobic students and their right wing supporters.

January 4, 2012 Posted by | Anti-Gay Hate Groups, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Bullycide, Bullying in schools, gay teens, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBT teen suicide prevention, LGBTQ, License to Bully bill, religious hate speech, religious intolerance, Social Justice Advocacy, Tennessee | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gay Tennessee Teen Takes His Life; Bullied To Death

Jacob Rogers, another gay teen hounded to death

Ashland City, Tennessee – Jacob Rogers, a teenager who cried out to his friend that no one listened to him, and that he was being constantly attacked for being gay, took his own life on Wednesday. Rogers had dropped out of school at Thanksgiving.  He left notes and email passwords for his grandmother, who was his primary guardian, so that she and officials could understand why he took his life.

His friend, Kaelynn Mooningham, told WSMV News“He started coming home his senior year saying ‘I don’t want to go back. Everyone is so mean. They call me a f****, they call me gay, a queer.’”  Mooningham went on to say that her friend felt ignored and alone, in part because the school’s guidance counselors were unresponsive, and other school officials took no action. “Jacob told me no one was helping him,” she said. “He constantly was going to guidance.”

Other students confirmed Mooningham’s statements. They said that school officials knew some students were tormenting Jacob, but the took no steps to get it stopped.  The school, on the other hand, says that all they knew about was an incident of harassment. The principal of the school said that they had no idea it had gotten out of hand.  Friends and family find that hard to believe, however.  The fact Jacob dropped out at Thanksgiving in his senior year should have been a red flag that something was going very wrong for him

Initially, there was insufficient money to hold a funeral for Jacob.  Then a tattoo parlor started and fund, and news spread around the blogosphere about the need.  Now two other funds at local banks have been opened for the funeral and other expenses, and well-known LGBT bloggers, Dan Savage, Andy Towle, and Joe Jervis have contributed.  A candlelight vigil was held on December 8 at River Bluff Park.  Box Turtle Bulletin listed ways others could help spot and prevent more suicides of LGBT Youth from happening.  Jim Burroway says: “For more information on suicide prevention, research and help-seeking resources, see the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). If you or someone you know needs help, see The Trevor Project’s web site or call the Trevor Lifeline: 866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386).”

December 9, 2011 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Bullycide, Bullying in schools, Dan Savage, gay teens, GLBTQ, harassment, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBT teen suicide prevention, LGBTQ, LGBTQ suicide, Slurs and epithets, suicide, Tennessee, Trevor Project, Vigils | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Church-Led Gay Bashing in Tennessee: WWJD?

Jerry Pittman Jr. and Dustin Lee (L to R), attacked by church members in West Tennessee

Humbolt, Tennessee – In the quiet outskirts of rural Humbolt, Tennessee, a church with a Fruitland address was the scene for a violent attack on two young gay men simply for arriving at Wednesday evening services.  What Would Jesus Do (WWJD) about Church-and-Pastor instigated gay bashing?  On September 28, Jerry Pittman Jr. and his boyfriend, Dustin Lee, arrived at Grace Fellowship Church where his father, Jerry Pittman Sr., is the pastor.  Just before the gay couple got out of their car, Jerry Jr. heard his father cry, “Sic ‘em!,” as a hunter would address a pack of dogs.  Two deacons from the church, and Jerry Jr.’s uncle who is also a deacon, attacked the pair while they were still trying to get out of the parked vehicle.  WBBJ Eyewitness News interviewed Jerry Jr. soon after the church gay bashed the couple: “My uncle and two other deacons came over to the car per my dad’s request,” young Jerry said. “My uncle smashed me in the door as the other deacon knocked my boyfriend back so he couldn’t help me, punching him in his face and his chest. The other deacon came and hit me through my car window in my back.”  The men kept yelling homophobic insults and slurs at the couple even after a Gibson County Deputy Sheriff arrived on the scene.  The couple attempted to press charges with the officer, who refused to allow them to do so, implying that they were the cause of the attack themselves.  Gibson County Sheriff Chuck Arnold defended the actions of his deputy to the press, saying, “I haven’t talk to him but that would be out of character for my deputy to say unless they were causing a problem themselves.”  Media attention has caused the sheriff to temper his remarks in subsequent interviews.

Pittman and Lee did press charges the following Friday against Deacons Billy Sims and Eugene McCoy, as well as Rev. Jerry Pittman Sr. and Deacon Patrick Flatt, the younger Pittman’s uncle.  When WBBJ reporters contacted the pastor, he refused comment and demanded that the station not try to communicate with him again.

Evan Hurst of Truth Wins Out gives the latest details on this story that has shocked Christians and non-Christians alike, awakening them to the presence of virulent, anti-gay prejudice in America’s pulpits and pews.  Hurst spoke to Jerry Jr. by phone on October 5, who said, “The church acted as four people, instead of as a congregation.”  Pittman explained that he and his boyfriend had attended the church before, though they knew the condemning stance of the elder Pittman, who preached anti-gay sermons “when the couple wasn’t there.”  Lee had even been invited to sing at Grace Fellowship once when he attended services alone.  But marital trouble broke out between Pittman Sr. and Jerry Jr.’s stepmother, and, in Hurst’s words, “the floodgates opened and the church no longer felt the need to stay silent about Jerry, Jr. and his boyfriend.”   The charges and counter charges in this case are still being sorted out.  All parties are remanded to court on November 22.  Meanwhile, Jerry Pittman Jr. and Dustin Lee are left to pick up the pieces of their lives and shattered faith.  Jerry Jr. has already lost his job because of the days he has spent pursuing justice for himself and his boyfriend.

West Tennessee is a tough place to be gay or lesbian, much less transgender.  Hurst relates a “man-on-the-street” interview in Jackson, in which the reporter asked a passer-by about what he would do if his son brought a boyfriend to church with him.  The man candidly said he would shoot them.  The culture of hatred, religious intolerance of LGBTQ people, and church-sanctioned violence remains undisturbed in America’s heartland, no matter if there is a federal Matthew Shepard Act to offer some protection legally to marginalized gay people.

Would Jesus condone anti-gay violence?  If not, then why is such prejudice overtly and covertly incubated in the nation’s communities of faith, like Grace Fellowship?  While it may be simple for many Christians to dismiss the Grace Fellowship hate crime as an aberration in an embarrassing, Pentecostal byway, the silence from every other church in the surrounding area is deafening.  The Unfinished Lives Project has shown the link between religious intolerance, religious hate speech, and deadly anti-gay violence.  Nine out of ten fatal hate crimes perpetrated against LGBTQ people in the United States were sparked, by admission of the killers, by Bible or Church teaching.  If churches cannot speak out against an attack against a young gay couple simply for arriving at a church for services, what will they remain silent about next?  WWJD about Christians and Churches who gay bash or stand by silently while others do?  Read John 11:35: “Jesus wept.”

October 5, 2011 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, bi-phobia, Bisexual persons, Blame the victim, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Homosexuality and the Bible, Law and Order, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Matthew Shepard Act, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, religious hate speech, religious intolerance, Slurs and epithets, Tennessee, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 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

Gay Cowboy Stoned To Death in Apparent Revenge Killing

Jason "Cowboy" Huggins, from his Facebook page

San Diego, California – On June 22, a wounded 31-year-old gay man struggled out of a gorge near the 1300 block of Washington Street, San Diego, and flagged down a passing motorist. He managed to tell the driver that he had been attacked with blows to his head from a rock before he fell unconscious from his injuries.  Police and paramedics responded, and Jason “Cowboy” Huggins was rushed to the Mercy Hospital trauma center where his condition deteriorated rapidly.  Huggins, a well-liked member of the San Diego LGBTQ community, fell into a coma, and two weeks later, on July 6, died from massive injuries to his head and brain from blunt force trauma.  He had been literally stoned to death. 10News.com reported that police arrested Joshua James Larson, 37, two days after the stoning, and charged him with the Huggins attack and a second assault charge in another case.  He is being held on $1 million for the crimes, and could serve from 33 years to life in prison if found guilty of the charges. Investigative reporting uncovered that Huggins had testified against Larson two years prior to the attack, alleging that Larson was guilty of drug possession and grand larceny. Though police have not issued a motive in the killing, and have not labeled the case a hate crime, revenge is suspected to be the motive.  Was the murderous attack motivated by anti-LGBTQ phobia?  The facts seem unclear about whether and to what extent that may have been a contributing factor. The nature of the attack, however, a prehistoric homicide with biblical overtones, caught the attention of the press. Even though sexual orientation has not been identified by the police as an aggravating factor in the murder of “Cowboy” Huggins, the San Diego LGBTQ community has rallied to his memory, and have raised money to help his relatives come to his funeral all the way from his native home in Clarksville, Tennessee, according to the San Diego Gay & Lesbian News. Huggins, who was easy to spot in the LGBTQ scene, was over 6 feet tall, and wore a cowboy hat, jeans, western shirt, boots, and a large, rodeo-style belt buckle.  In his Google Profile, he wrote, “I am a true cowboy from TN now living in sunny San Diego, CA. I am gay and have HIV too. Came out of the closet to all my redneck friends back in TN and was accepted because I am still a great friend that never overstepped my boundries.”  The New Civil Rights Movement notes that friends and family in his hometown of Clarksville knew about his sexual orientation and loved him very much. “We remember him being a kid with no aggressiveness in him at all,” Jennifer Sanders, Huggins’ aunt, said. “He was a fun-​loving, joking-​type of person, a very good kid. I call him a ‘kid’ because he was like my third child. We still can’t believe that it happened. It’s still a shock. He was only 31 years old. He’s going to be well missed by all of his friends out there in San Diego and his family.”  Faithful friends stood vigil for Cowboy Huggins from June 22 until his funeral day. So, Jason Baron Huggins was committed to his eternal rest on July 11 at Hillcrest in San Diego, attended by his family, friends, and a loyal LGBTQ community who loved him.  As one commenter on the Facebook event page wrote for all the world to see, “Rest in peace, Cowboy.”

July 17, 2011 Posted by | Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Beatings and battery, Bludgeoning, California, funerals, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, HIV/AIDS, Law and Order, LGBTQ, Media Issues, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Social Justice Advocacy, Tennessee, Vigils | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Lesbian Couple’s Home Burned In Hate Crime

Vonore, Tennessee – The home of a Monroe County, Tennessee lesbian couple was burned to the ground and their garage defaced by anti-gay graffiti in what is believed to be a hate crime. On Saturday, September 4, the house was set ablaze, and the word “Queer” was spray painted on two sides of the family garage, which was left standing.  WATE, Channel 6, Knoxville reports that the couple, Carol and Laura Stutte, had been threatened in August by a neighbor who said he was going to burn their house down because they were lesbian.  He also threatened their lives, according to Stutte.  They reported the threat to the police, but there is no report as to the status of the complaint at this time.  The couple, who have been together 15 years, moved to Vonore from Oklahoma. The crime occurred while the Stutte’s were celebrating their fifth anniversary in Tennessee with friends in Nashville.  At present, the couple is in a safe house in Nashville while the investigation is going forward.  They have no plans to return to the property, and are staying away out of prudence and fear.  Other neighbors have defended the couple, saying that lesbians make good neighbors, and are welcome in Vonore. Members of the community, especially PFLAG of Maryville, and the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church are responding with funds and household goods, since the couple has lost everything.  As Becky Lucas, president of PFLAG Maryville said, “We are hopeful that the authorities will investigate it fully and that this couple will get justice. I think this happens every day to people in this community and many times they don’t speak up because they are afraid. Everybody deserves basic human rights.”  Lucas went on to say to reporters, “We want to send a message to this couple and other couples like them — you do have many allies in this area. Many people in the community are just as outraged as I am.” Care2.com reports that no determination has yet been made by local authorities about whether the incident will be classified an hate crime.  According to Care2, “Detective Travis Jones, with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department, has confirmed that the department is investigating the arson with the aid of the state Bomb and Arson Squad, that there are ‘people of interest’ in the case.”  The lesbians say that they would like to remain in the area, but they would never rebuild on the same site.

September 13, 2010 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Arson, death threats, harassment, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Lesbian women, PFLAG, Slurs and epithets, Tennessee, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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