Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Hope for 2010: A New Year’s Special Comment

As the old year passes, and with it the old decade, those of us who believe in Justice for LGBTQ people have memories to preserve, work to do, thanks to express, and hope to rekindle.  The Unfinished Lives Project was conceived as a visual and verbal resource for the public to use in the on-going struggle for freedom from violence and fear that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer folk face every day in the United States.  Wordpress tallies show that as of this writing nearly 44,000 have visited this site since its first posting in June 2008: to educate themselves about the slow-rolling holocaust facing members of the sexual minority, to bring the stories of so many casualties of homophobia and heterosexism to light who would otherwise be forgotten, and to steel themselves for the long, difficult, painful work of changing the culture of violence against the different in which we must live.  While countless hours of writing and research have gone into creating and maintaining this web site, that is nothing compared to the stress and loss faced by so many families and loved ones who have experienced the horrors of hate crime murder during these years.  The backstory of this blog has been and continues to be the awe-inspiring courage of the bereaved mothers, fathers, lovers and friends who have been thrust into the harsh glare of activism on behalf of the LGBTQ community because they refuse to allow their loved ones to have died in vain.  We owe them, and you, Dear Reader, our thanks and our continuing labor until Justice comes.  It is to that end we at the Unfinished Lives Project keep telling these grim stories of real people who suffer in America for no other “crime” than being who they are.  The past decade, especially the past year, has seen substantive change–not enough, nor comprehensive enough, to be sure–but real change nonetheless.  Cultural, political, and religious attitudes toward LGBTQ people are changing in this country.  The passage of the James Byrd, Jr. and Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the first comprehensive hate crimes law in federal history, is now law.  Convictions under state and federal hate crimes statutes, something conservative law makers and law enforcement officers said would never happen, are occurring already in bellweather states like Colorado and New York.   This trend will no doubt continue as the New Year dawns.  The infamous “gay panic” defense, and its evil twin, the “trans panic” defense are increasingly discredited and ineffective in American courts of law. Religious attitudes have thawed slightly, but the progress is real, if spotty.  Religion and Faith offices and activism, once thought to be the “third rail” of human rights politics, have been established in all the major advocacy organizations that lobby for change.  LGBTQ lives and practices are no longer viewed as criminal by the religious leaders of conscience in the United States, and tolerance toward queer folk in congregational life and leadership is on the rise: the Episcopal Church, the Alliance of Baptists, the United Church of Christ, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America are cases in point.  Homophobia in churches, synagogues, mosques and schools is not going unchallenged in American daily life, and that is encouraging.  ENDA, DADT, and many other legislative initiatives are on the horizon for the new decade.  Marriage Equality, which heretofore has been fought for state-by-state (often attended by an alarming hike in anti-LGBT hate crime violence where the issue is most hotly contested), and now advocates are re-evaluating the tactics and strategies of equality.  There is nothing magic about the passage of the Shepard Act.  Every day, in every region of the nation, LGBTQ people and those mistakenly assumed to be like us, are suffering violence and death, and from our researches at the Unfinished Lives Project, these statistics are increasing alarmingly.  One more life lost is one too many.  Fear is no way to live in the Land of the Free.  So, we who believe in Justice will greet the New Year with resolve.  An African American spiritual lyric testifies, “We Ain’t in No Wise Tired,” and that is providential.  We cannot rest until Justice comes.  And, we are glad to be in the fight for true “peace on earth, goodwill to all,” with you.

December 24, 2009 - Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Bisexual persons, Colorado, DADT, ENDA, gay men, gay panic defense, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Legislation, Lesbian women, Marriage Equality, Matthew Shepard Act, Media Issues, military, Mistaken as LGBT, New York, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Politics, Popular Culture, religious intolerance, Remembrances, Social Justice Advocacy, Special Comments, trans-panic defense, transgender persons | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Thank you for reminding us that our work for equality is far from over

    Comment by Dana daniell | January 3, 2010

  2. thanks for posting all of this info, the encouraging and the shocking. we WILL remember our brothers and sisters and their families and friends – holding them close in our hearts, thoughts and prayers. hopefully all of us working together to educate the general public that we all are just regular folks like them will reduce, and eventually eliminate, the “hate crime” element of these tragedies. thanks for ALL that you are doing!!! scotty

    Comment by scottE | July 22, 2010

    • Thank you for the encouragement, Scotty!

      Comment by unfinishedlives | July 22, 2010

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