Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Bullfrog in the Kettle: On Not Being Lulled into a False Sense of Security About Anti-LGBT Violence


Frog in the Kettle


How do you boil a bullfrog?  Don’t try to plop it in a steaming kettle on the stove.  Ease it into a nice warm bath in the pot, and let it swim around until it drops its guard.  Nudge up the heat nice and slow.  Caught unawares, the frog won’t wake up to its danger until it is too late and the water is about to boil.


Larry King Cover in The Advocate magazine

Larry King Cover in The Advocate magazine


Last year saw a rash of murders of young, feminine-presenting men about this time.  In January, Adophus Simmons of North Charleston, South Carolina was shot to death while carrying his trash out to the dumpster.  In February, just after Valentine’s Day, Larry King was shot in the back of the head in his middle school computer class by his classmate in Oxnard, California.  Then, near the end of February, Simmie Williams, Jr. was shot down in the street in Fort Lauderdale, Florida by two still-unapprehended murders.  Simmons was 18, King was 15, and Williams was 17. 


Simmie Williams' Mother Mourns his death

Simmie Williams' Mother Mourns his death

It took some weeks for the LGBT press to connect the dots and cry out that young, gender non-conforming men, especially young men of color, were in the crosshairs of deadly prejudice in the United States.  King’s murder drew a cover story in The Advocate, and then the mainstream press picked up the theme with its flawed cover in Newsweek.  The nation shrugged off the murders of the other two boys.  Now, things have gone strangely silent about the morphing of murder against LGBT people, with minimal interest in the new outbreak of violence against African American transwomen in Memphis, Tennessee.  Queer folk are still being killed, but in the glow of President Obama’s first 100 Days, with all eyes turned to the beautiful First Couple and the stumbling U.S. economy, even the LGBT press is falling to sleep again, lulling the LGBT population who are still at risk everywhere into a false sense of security.  The bullfrog is doing the backstroke in the kettle, and the heat is rising oh-so-slowly. 


Joan Crawford, LGBT Icon, in Johnny Guitar

Joan Crawford, LGBT Icon, in Johnny Guitar


Just like queer folk used to sit through whole tiresome movies like Johnny Guitar just to see Joan Crawford descend the stairs wearing a butch shirt waving a gun, the LGBT and progressive press are hanging onto every hint of “gay” in President Obama’s speeches and press releases.  He said “gay and lesbian” in Chicago on Election Night!  He didn’t mention us in the Inaugural Address at all, but has our issues on the White House web site!  His team invited Rick Warren (who opposes us 100%) to pray, but Joseph Lowery (who kinda likes us), too!  The Inaugural Committee chose Bishop Gene Robinson to pray at the Lincoln Memorial (but then botched its broadcast, and somebody cut off his mic), and at the last minute invited him to the platform for the Inauguration!  Please! 

Here is what we know for sure: 

1)    Queer folk are still being killed and attacked in heightened numbers throughout the United States, especially in the Heartland of the Upper Midwest, the Left Coast, and the South, as NCAVP and FBI statistics demonstrate. 

2)    Even the presumption that someone is gay is deadly, as was the case of José O. Sucuzhañay, a straight man attacked while walking arm-in-arm with his brother in Brooklyn just before Christmas.

3)    Transgender women and men, especially if they are of color, are dying in our streets in alarming numbers, as the Memphis attacks testify.

4)    A gay man’s life is worth less than an animal’s in some states, as the imminent early release of Sean William Kennedy’s convicted murderer shows in Greenville, South Carolina.

5)    Silence-of-the-Lambs style murders apparently cannot shake urban governments awake to the peril of their LGBT citizens, as the gruesome dismemberment of Richard Hernandez and the subsequent veil of silence surrounding it in Dallas, TX points out.

6)    Most LGBT people would rather not read about this right now, with Spring Break coming up, and Easter, and the next Circuit Party, and all. 

Who wouldn’t rather ignore the reality of violence and neglect that makes LGBT jobs, loves and our very lives so fragile in March 2009, the Obama Administration notwithstanding?  Please don’t “let Barack do it” and abdicate responsibility for acting for and end to anti-LGBT violence in this country.  Barack Obama needs all of us who feel the heat to make him keep his promises to enact the Matthew Shepard Act, ENDA, and to repeal DADT. 

 frogs see no evil

Don’t be fooled.  Don’t be lulled.  The kettle is on to boil.

~ Stephen V. Sprinkle, Director

The Unfinished Lives Project

March 11, 2009 - Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, gay men, gun violence, harassment, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Legislation, Mistaken as LGBT, Politics, Racism, School and church shootings, Special Comments

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