Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Overflow Crowd Lays Jason Mattison, Jr. To Rest in Baltimore; Murder Investigation Continues

East Baltimore, Maryland – An overflow crowd packed the Unity United Methodist Church on Edmundson Avenue in Baltimore Thursday for the funeral of slain gay teenager, Jason Mattison, Jr.  The Baltimore Sun reports that the principal of Mattison’s high school announced the establishment of a scholarship in his memory at the service. “No one is truly gone if you carry them in your heart,” Principal Starletta Jackson said. “And Jason is a part of our heart. We all knew that Jason wanted to be a pediatrician. There was never a question of whether or not he was going to make it. Some children we have to pray over a lot — pray for grades that they pass, but we never worried about that with Jason.”  Rev. Patricia D. Johnson, speaking to the mourners, said that young Mattison’s brutal murder serves as a warning to parents to watch over their children in neighborhood of rundown row houses that the church serves.  At times during the 90-minute service, teen classmates who loved the sassy, joyous gay boy with his signature tight jeans and cool sweaters were so overcome with emotion they had to excuse themselves from the church sanctuary.  No doubt he left his mark on their lives and on the Harlem Park neighborhood where he lived.  Principal Jackson concluded her remarks, “We will miss you, Jason, but know that your memory will never be lost.”  Mystery surrounds the grisly murder.  Dante L. Parrish was arrested and confessed to the rape and slaughter of Mattison, and is being held without bail.  Mattison’s cousin described him as “an old family friend,” presumably of Mattison’s aunt, where the gay youth’s body was found in an upstairs closet, gagged with a pillowcase and savagely stabbed in the head and neck with a box cutter.  Conflicting accounts of why Mattison was at his aunts’ house have come from family members.  His cousin says that he was “visiting relatives.”  His paternal grandmother has said that her grandson was actually living in the home rather than in his parents’ home, suggesting some possible alienation or estrangement that Mattison kept under wraps at school.  While he was an open book insofar as his sexual orientation was concerned, he was tightlipped about his home life and his living situation around his classmates.  Family sources also suggest that Parrish had exhibited an unhealthy interest in Mattison for some time, one that allegedly made the gay youth uncomfortable.  As the investigation into one of Baltimore’s worst bias-related hate crimes continues, the search for answers about his family’s relationship with a convicted murderer and their attitude toward Mattison’s homosexuality goes on.  On Sunday, vigils and protests related to Jason’s horrific death and that of slain Puerto Rican gay teen, Jorge Steven López Mercado, took place in more than 20 cities around the country, from coast-to-coast.

November 23, 2009 Posted by | African Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Condolences, gay men, Hate Crimes, Law and Order, Maryland, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Protests and Demonstrations, rape, Remembrances, stabbings, Torture and Mutilation, Vigils | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Overflow Crowd Lays Jason Mattison, Jr. To Rest in Baltimore; Murder Investigation Continues

Mother of Slain Gay Puerto Rican Teen Speaks Out; Protests and Vigils Break Out Worldwide

Miriam Mercado and Pedro Serrano show Jorge's Signature Gesture (Nueva Dia photo)

San Juan, Puerto Rico – The mother of brutally murdered gay teen, Jorge Steven López Mercado, has broken her silence concerning the social and religious environment in Puerto Rico that led to the loss of her son (see Nueva Dia photo, left).  In a statement issued to the press, Miriam Mercado said, “When my son told me he was gay, I told him, ‘Now, I love you more’. I want to tell the world that hatred is not born with human beings, it is a seed that is planted by adults and is fostered creating a climate of intolerance and violence. We must change our ways and understand that anyone… could have been my son. And I want everybody to know that Jorge Steven was a very much loved son.”  Meanwhile, the investigation into López Mercado’s murder continues, even as protests and vigils spring up on his home island and around the world, condemning the violence that took his life.  After Juan A. Martínez Matos confessed to the beheading, dismemberment, and burning of young López Mercado, his home was intensively searched.  Forensics experts recovered a knife believed to have been used in the murder that had been thrown into a septic tank.  Statements Matos has made about the events leading up to his savage crime make it likely that he will plead a form of the “gay panic defense,” claiming temporary insanity after ‘discovering’ López Mercado’s sexual identity.  Matos is being held in San Juan on $4 million bail.  At a large protest on the grounds of the Puerto Rican capitol on Thursday, Pedro Julio Serrano, a leading LGBT activist, called out political and religious leaders who have characterized gay and lesbian people as “perverts,” condemning their hate speech for contributing to lethal violence against members of the sexual minority.  Serrano also decried the refusal of these same leaders to extend condolences to López Mercado’s mother and family.  On Sunday, vigils took place around the United States, Latin America, and Europe in memory of the 19-year-old Puerto Rican and another gruesomely slain gay teen, African American Jason Mattison, Jr., who died within days of López Mercado, making last week one of the most shocking in recent anti-LGBT hate crime history.  Thousands of mourners gathered to remember the teens in Anchorage, Alaska, Los Angeles, West Hollywood, CA, San Francisco, Chicago, Terra Haute, IN, San Antonio, Dallas, Abilene, Lubbock, New Orleans, Atlanta, Durham, NC, Washington, DC, Boston, Philadelphia and New York City, as well as in San Juan and at others sites in Puerto Rico.

November 23, 2009 Posted by | African Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Blame the victim, Condolences, Decapitation and dismemberment, gay men, gay panic defense, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, immolation, Latino and Latina Americans, Law and Order, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Politics, Protests and Demonstrations, Puerto Rico, religious intolerance, Remembrances, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, stabbings, Torture and Mutilation | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments


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