Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Another “Beyoncé” Killing: New Orleans Trans Murder Hate Motivated?

Beyoncé Knowles

Beyoncé Knowles

New Orleans, LA – The Times-Picayune and Advocate.com report the Sunday murder of a victim who presented femininely and referred to herself as “Beyoncé,” in tribute to the popular star of soul and pop/rock, Beyoncé Knowles.  The victim, Eric Lee, 21, was stabbed repeatedly at an apartment complex in the Algiers neighborhood.  Police found Lee’s slashed body inside a first-floor apartment.  Witnesses say they heard Lee arguing heatedly with a group of women before the time of the murder.  While police have not announced a suspected motive for the killing, the m.o. fits a transphobic hate crime pattern.  Residents who knew her say that Lee, who was in transition from male to female, often dressed in women’s clothing, and drew ridicule from the neighborhood because of it.  An unidentified source told the Times-Picayune that Lee “dressed to the nines.”  Carl Adams, who claimed that he did not know the victim well, told reporters that he had often heard Lee arguing with neighbors.  “Probably because they made fun of him,” he said.  In recent years, other trans and non-gender conforming African Americans who have identified with the megastar Knowles have died at the hands of phobic killers.  Simmie Lewis Williams, Jr., 17, who also called himself “Beyoncé,” died from gunshot wounds in 2007 in the 1000 block of Sistrunk Avenue in Fort Lauderdale, FL.  Adolphus “Beyoncé” Simmons, 18, a talented female impersonator from North Charleston, South Carolina, similarly died outside his apartment while carrying out the trash to a bin, also in 2007.  Much like queer southern whites have idolized Dolly Parton, dressing like her and lip-syncing her hits, Beyoncé has entranced young black cross dressers and transgender women, and has legions of gay and lesbian fans, both black and white.  Yet she has not become the advocate for LGBT people that Ms. Parton has.  Ms. Knowles has occasionally reached out to her LGBT fans, especially after an international flap over her comments concerning the onstage kiss between Madonna and Britney Spears at the MTV Awards in 2003.  At the time, the British tabloid, The Sun, charged Knowles with homophobic statements based on her strict religious upbringing.  On her website, she refuted the claims of the tabloid, writing, “I’d like to clarify any confusion over some quotes that were attributed to me totally out of context in a recent interview. I have never judged anyone based on his or her sexual orientation and have no intention of starting now. I have a lot of gay and lesbian fans and I love them no differently than my straight fans.”  For an interview in Instinct reported on AfterElton.com, she revealed that she was raised by a gay uncle who died of AIDS-related complications.  “He helped me buy my prom dress. He made my clothes with my mother. He was like my nanny. He was my favorite person in the whole world,” she said.  To date, her love and respect for her uncle and her LGBT fans notwithstanding, she has not spoken out against the harm being perpetrated against queer fans who are suffering the ultimate price for paying her the ultimate tribute.  The murder of Eric “Beyoncé” Lee, while outrageous in its own right, underlines the need from some statement on Ms. Knowles’ part, condemning such killings.  Of course, Beyoncé Knowles is not responsible in any way for the killing of Lee, Williams, Simmons, or anyone who chooses to bear her name.  But the number of those dying to emulate her suggest that statements from her and other influential black entertainers against homophobia and transphobia is at least urgent, if not overdue.  ~ NB: Pronouns in this article reflect the usage of the source in quotations.  Williams and Simmons referred to themselves using masculine pronouns.  As is appropriate for an M to F transperson, Lee is referred to using feminine pronouns.

July 29, 2009 - Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Florida, gay men, harassment, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Lesbian women, Louisiana, South Carolina, Special Comments, stabbings, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment

  1. Can someone explain to me. What difference would it make if Beyonce and other celebritites make comments against this type of killing would do?

    Comment by lazonia | September 10, 2009

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