Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Anti-Gay Monument Struck Down

Matthew Shepard


Advocate.com reports that the US Supreme Court has ruled against Fred Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, in their petition to build an anti-gay monument condemning slain LGBT icon, Matthew Shepard.  Phelps wanted to erect the monument in a governmental plaza in Kansas reading, “Matthew Shepard Entered Hell October 12, 1998, in Defiance of God’s warning ‘thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind; it is an abomination.’ Leviticus 18:22.”


Phelps Anti-Gay Monument

Phelps Anti-Gay Monument

The Supremes ruled unanimously that government parks receiving monument donations are under no obligation to accept them all.  Phelps previously attempted to erect a similar monument condemning homosexuality and Matthew Shepard in a city park located in Shepard’s hometown, Caspar, Wyoming.  The city council rejected the offer. 

Shepard, who was openly gay, was brutally murdered by two young men from Laramie where he was attending the University of Wyoming, in October 1998.  The news of the heinous hate crime murder rocked the nation, and awakened millions to the existence of anti-LGBT violence in their own backyards.  Both his attackers, Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney, are serving life sentences.  To date, no federal hate crimes prevention statutes have been enacted into law.  The Matthew Shepard Act is under consideration during this Congress once again.

March 4, 2009 Posted by | gay men, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Monuments and markers, Remembrances, Wyoming | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Second Annual Billy Jack Gaither Humanitarian Award

Second Annual Billy Jack Gaither Humanitarian Award

Sunday, February 15, 2008

Vickie Saltsman, Billy Jack Gaither's Sister

Vickie Saltsman, Billy Jack Gaither's Sister


Montgomery, AL:  Ten years after the brutal slaying of 39-year-old Alabamian Billy Jack Gaither, the award bearing his name was presented by Equality Alabama to activist George Olsson.  Hundreds of supporters gathered at the capital steps in Montgomery for the Vigil for Victims of Hate and Violence.  Vickie Saltsman, Billy Jack’s elder sister, spoke of the love all her family have for their brother, who was murdered in 1999 for being a gay man: “Not a day goes by without our thinking of him,” she said.

March 4, 2009 Posted by | Alabama, Hate Crimes, Remembrances, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Second Annual Billy Jack Gaither Humanitarian Award

Talana Kreeger

Talana Kreeger



Talana Kreeger

September 25, 1957—February 22, 1990

Wilmington, NC


“In an expanding universe, time is on the side of the outcast.

Those who once inhabited the suburbs of human contempt find that without changing their address they eventually live in the metropolis.

~ Quentin Crisp, The Naked Civil Servant

Law enforcement told leaders of the Wilmington, NC LGBT community that it would not be in their interest to be too visible in the days following the murder of Talana Quay Kreeger by manual disembowelment.  Fearing reprisals, a quiet funeral was planned for Talana at a church in nearby Ogden.  Forbidden to post signs directing mourners to the church, organizers tied bunches of white balloons along the route up Market Street, leading out of town.

At the last minute, the service was called off in Ogden.  Somebody had gotten to the pastor, and explained that Talana was a lesbian.  Wilmington Police stopped the procession of cars, and told them to turn around.  Scrambling to find any place for the better than 200 grief-stricken, frustrated mourners, someone contacted a sympathetic Episcopal priest in downtown Wilmington who opened his church for the memorial service.

Talana, 32, was well known and well regarded in the closely-knit lesbian and gay community.  She was a skilled journeyman carpenter, and had volunteered her time to remodel the Park View Bar and Grill, a haven for coastal Carolina lesbians.  Her murder by long haul trucker, Ronald Thomas, terrorized and enraged the entire LGBT population of New Hanover County.  Talana’s gruesome death caused Eastern North Carolina queer folk to find their voices.  They vowed never again to have to rely on straight people to lend them a church for the funeral of one of their own.

The result of that vow is St. Jude’s Metropolitan Community Church, www.stjudesmcc.org , a thriving congregation founded the year after Talana’s murder as a testimony to LGBT faith and resolve.  Independent filmmaker, Tab Ballis, is documenting the story of Talana Kreeger with the film, “Park View,” www.parkviewproject.com.   Few other LGBT hate crimes murder victims, if any, have not only a film dedicated to their memory, but also have a church that exists today as a living reminder that hatred does not have the last word.  Rest well, sister.  Time was on your side after all.  You did not die in vain.  We will not forget.

March 4, 2009 Posted by | Hate Crimes, Lesbian women, North Carolina, Remembrances, Torture and Mutilation, Uncategorized | , , , | 5 Comments


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