Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

“Bullycide” Takes Life of Hoosier Teen

Fishers, Indiana – Hundreds of mourners gathered on Monday to remember a 14-year-old Hamilton Southeastern High School freshman whom his parents and friends say took his life in response to incessant bullying. WISH TV News 8 reports that Corey and Natalie Bell, the parents of Jamarcus “Bucko” Bell, who took his own life last Wednesday, want to send a strong message that bullying kills.  The Bells scheduled an emergency conference with the dean of students at Hamilton Southeastern before the suicide of their son because they were alarmed at the extent of the bullying Jamarcus admitted he was enduring at school.  The conference, put off for days, never happened, according to Jamarcus’s parents, who are calling for a full investigation into the bullying situation at HSE.  WTHR News 13 broadcast that the Superintendent of Schools is now speaking out to parents and the press, trying to impress upon the public that the school district “takes bullying very seriously.”  Many students, friends, and alumni of Hamilton Southeastern High, however, aren’t buying what the Superintendent says, since it is too little, too late.  Present and former students of HSE contend that they were bullied in the halls, gym, classrooms, and grounds of the school, and that while school officials and teachers knew about the problems with bullying, they did nothing to prevent it or to protect the targets of the harassment.  In Jamaracus’s case, his parents say that he was bullied from the time the family moved into the school district three years ago.  Corey Bell says that his son was singled out for torment first at Fishers Junior High School, and then this year at HSE.  The most graphic story the Bells are telling is how Jamarcus was bullied in welding class one day last week, when student antagonists threw fragments of steel at the back of Jamarcus’s head.  Student witnesses have corroborated the welding class account, according to Indystar.com.  Jamarcus is remembered as a good student and good friend by his peers.  He was 5′ 8″ tall, and an aspiring baseball player.  His father told the Indianapolis Star that he seldom talked about his troubles: “He shared bits and pieces, but he was more or less trying to hold it in,” Corey Moore said. “He wasn’t confrontational. He wasn’t aggressive. He was good at holding stuff in. We couldn’t tell how bad it was, but he didn’t seclude himself.” Bell is the second high-profile “bullycide” case in Indiana since September.  Last month, the suicide of gay teen Billy Lucas of Greensburg, Indiana, touched off national attention to the issue of anti-LGBTQ bullying in schools.  At the packed memorial service in the Eastern Star Church of Fishers, Jamaracus was remembered with tears and laughter.  He was also remembered by mourners who came from near and far as yet another victim of “bullycide.”  While news stories have not mentioned sexual innuendo or anti-gay slurs as part of the repertoire of Jamarcus’s harassers, such attacks on the masculinity of young teen men is the rule, rather than the exception in cases of school suicide.  Often a complex series of oppressions play a part in the desperate decision of a youth to take his own life–not just anti-gay epithets, but also racial, ethnic, and class factors are commonly found to torment young people as they face daily harassment in a school culture that tolerates bullies but not youth of difference.  At the end of the Monday memorial for Jamarcus, hundreds of multicolored balloons were released in the night air, carrying their memories of the gentle athlete who saw no other way out of his desperate situation in school.

October 26, 2010 Posted by | African Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Bullying in schools, Condolences, funerals, harassment, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Indiana, LGBT teen suicide prevention, LGBTQ suicide, Racism, Remembrances, Slurs and epithets | , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on “Bullycide” Takes Life of Hoosier Teen

Bigots Target Birthplace of Gay Rights Movement With Hate-Crime Wave

Stonewall Inn, NYC, site of one of many recent anti-gay attacks

Greenwich Village, New York City, New York – The Villager reports a “hate-crime wave” striking Greenwich Village, acknowledged widely as the birthplace of the modern LGBTQ Rights Movement.  In the past two weeks, police and anti-violence advocates noted four violent attacks against patrons of gay bars.  A 45-year-old Queens man has been charged in the two most recent assaults with third-degree assault as a hate crime, and third-degree robbery for the attacks which both took place on October 11–just ten minutes apart.  Frederick Giunta allegedly punched a 31-year-old gay man in the face at Ty’s Bar on Christopher Street after grabbing the victim’s wallet.  Guinta then walked to Julius’ Bar on W. 159th and Waverly Place, where he allegedly attacked an African American bartender while shouting anti-gay and anti-black slurs at him.  According to The Villager, the suspect struck Greg Davis, 48, in the face while yelling at him, “What are you going to do?” and calling him a racial slur, then yelling at him, “You are a f—— faggot.” Sources in the police department told reporters that Guinta had a record of violence against gay men in the area since 2002, when he pleaded guilty to robbing a gay man he picked up at Rawhide Bar in Chelsea.  On October 4, two Staten Island men attacked a man in the restroom of the historic Stonewall Inn on Sheridan Square–but their intended victim fought back.  The New York Post reports that Matthew Francis, 21, and Christopher Orlando, 17, both of Staten Island, gay bashed a Washington, D.C. visitor to the Stonewall Inn with intent to harm and rob him.  Benjamin Carver, 34, their intended victim, fought back against the thugs, and drove them out of the restroom.  Carver and his boyfriend, with the assistance of the Stonewall Inn staff, threw the Staten Island men out of the bar.  Carver told the Post, “I was never afraid, throughout the whole experience.  To so many of these bullies, they think that gay people are an easy target, and that we’re just going to give in. Those two guys found out that night that’s not the case.” Carver and Orlando have been charged with assault as a hate crime and attempted robbery.  Choosing historic gay establishments like Stonewall Inn and Julius’s bar sends LGBT residents of the village an ominous warning: gay liberation is still a long time coming in the Empire State and the nation.  The Stonewall Inn was the scene of the outbreak of the Stonewall Uprising of June 1969, when street kids, lesbians, gay men, and drag queens fought back agains the oppression of the NYPD.  Julius’ Bar is the oldest continuing gay bar in Manhattan.  On October 1, 20-yer-old Andrew Jackson was arrested and charged with hate-crime assault and gang-related assault on three gay men on Ninth Avenue and 25th Street in Chelsea, just blocks away from the West Village bars where the later anti-gay attacks occurred.  Two other suspects are being sought by police in connection with the October 1 incident.  New York City Council Speaker, openly-lesbian Christine Quinn, credits the swift arrests in all these cases to the professionalism of the New York Police Department’s Hate Crimes Task Force.  Quinn told the Villager, “Tragically, this is just the most recent in a series of hate crimes to strike our city and neighborhoods in recent weeks.” New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Program’s Executive Director Sharon Stapel told the press, “This [October 11] attack underscores our need to stop the hate speech and anti-LGBTQ vitriol that results in this kind of attack.”

October 22, 2010 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, Chelsea, Gang violence, gay men, harassment, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, New York, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, Stonewall Inn, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Bigots Target Birthplace of Gay Rights Movement With Hate-Crime Wave

Potential Anti-Lesbian Hate Crime at East Carolina University

Bryan Berg, ECU Hate Crime Suspect

Greenville, North Carolina – Two women from off-campus were assaulted Friday outside an East Carolina University dormitory by two men yelling anti-lesbian epithets.  ECU Police arrested Bryan Berg, an 18-year-old student, for allegedly punching one of the women in the jaw.  Berg has been charged with assault, and then released from the Pitt County Detention Center on $27,000 bond.  A second man is being sought by authorities for the crime.  ECU Police Assistant Chief Dawn Tevepaugh told The Reflector that the victims of the attack were non-students from Chocowinity, a small town in the Greenville metropolitan area.  The women, 18 and 19 years of age respectively, had visited friends in a university dormitory, and were exiting the building when Berg and the second assailant accused them of being lesbians before launching their attack.  The violence took place at about 2:45 a.m., but the ECU Police were not apprised of the incident until the hospital informed them that the two women were hospitalized for the attack.  The identities of the women are being withheld in the interest of their safety, according to Q Notes, the LGBT news source for the Carolinas.  Authorities have not characterized the sexual orientations of the victims at this time.  A witness told authorities that before Berg allegedly hit the 18-year-old woman, he spat on her.  Both victims were hurt in the assault.  They were treated at Pitt County Memorial Hospital, and the elder of the two was released on Friday.  The younger woman remains hospitalized because of a severely broken jaw. Assistant Chief Tevepaugh says that investigators have not yet determined that the assault meets federal criteria for a hate crime, but the nature of the attack and the alleged anti-gay slurs used by the attackers led the police to examine the possibility closely.  Tevepaugh told Q Notes, “We have to look at all the elements of the incident to see if they meet the federal requirements to be classified as a hate crime, including what was said and the actions that occurred. At this time, we believe it was an isolated incident.”  Aaron Lucier, director of the campus LGBT Union, responded confidently that the investigation would be carried out in an efficient and fair-minded way.  “Hate crime or not,” Lucier said to Q Notes, “it was a violent act, something we don’t want on our campus. We have a campus here that celebrates diversity on all levels. Our students find an educational campus here that is welcoming, but also learning, so it is a space that our students will find supportive and welcoming.”

October 17, 2010 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, East Carolina University, harassment, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Lesbian women, Mistaken as LGBT, North Carolina, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Slurs and epithets, women | , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Potential Anti-Lesbian Hate Crime at East Carolina University

Prominent Trans Woman of Color Murdered in PA

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – A transgender woman of color was murdered October 11 at her Point Breeze home.  While details are few at this time, the killing of Stacey Lee, 31, has been officially ruled “a homicide” by police, according to the Philadelphia Daily News.  Though members of the transgender community are suspicious about the nature of the slaying, investigators say that there is no evidence yet of a transphobic hate crime.  Ms. Lee was found by her longtime lover partially dressed and strangled to death at approximately 9:30 pm on Monday in the second-floor bedroom of the house.  Ms. Lee’s lover, fearing for his job if his identity was made public, has asked to remain unidentified.  Since he has a strong alibi, the authorities do not consider him to be a suspect in the investigation.  He related to the Daily News that he had tried several times to reach Ms. Lee by cell phone on Monday, to no avail.  When he arrived at the Point Breeze home, he let himself in with a key as usual.  Ms. Lee’s five dogs rushed to him, arousing his suspicion, since the dogs always remain with her when she is at home.  The boyfriend discovered Ms. Lee’s corpse in the upstairs bedroom.  She was without a wig, tipping off her lover that she was not expecting company when she was attacked.  “She always has at least a wig on, even if it’s just to come down to get a pizza,” he told the Daily News.  He says he has not eaten or slept since finding the body.  Neighbors say that Ms. Lee was a friendly, considerate neighbor, someone they were happy to know.  Two male neighbors, interviewed separately yesterday, said they would often see strange, white men in nice cars coming and going from the house during the day, when Ms. Lee’s boyfriend was at work. Ms. Lee has also been identified as “Overall Mother Stacey Blahnik,” by the transgender education and advocacy organization, The House of Blahnik.  As Overall Mother, Ms. Lee held a post of importance in the organization. Founded in 2000, the House of Blahnik, according to its website, “is a nationally recognized lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community provider who specializes in the performing arts, specifically using its creative talent in the area of health promotion and disease prevention.”  NY Overseer Stephaun Blahnik & Vice-Chairman of the National Board of Directors called Ms. Lee loving, inspiring, wise, and encouraging. Though a hate crime designation is “not even in the picture” at this point for Ms. Lee’s murder, Homicide Sergeant Bob Wilkins says that no possible motive has yet been ruled out. As the National Transgender Day of Remembrance approaches on November 21, leaders of the LGBTQ community are preparing themselves for a large roll call of murdered transpeople this year.  Garden State Equality notes, “One of the most underreported tragedies in America is the disproportionate rate of murder and other violent crimes against our transgender sisters and brothers.”  Since no reports of stolen items from her home have leaked out to the press, social justice advocates and transgender leaders throughout the Middle Atlantic states are watching closely for indications that Ms. Lee may have died of transphobic violence.  A candlelight vigil is planned in Ms. Lee’s memory for Saturday.

October 15, 2010 Posted by | African Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Hate Crimes, home-invasion, House of Blahnik, Latino and Latina Americans, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Remembrances, Social Justice Advocacy, Strangulation, transgender persons, transphobia, Unsolved LGBT Crimes, Vigils | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Prominent Trans Woman of Color Murdered in PA

Young Lesbian Dies as Deadly Rash of Suicides Continues

Marin County, California – Though few details are available, 19-year-old Aiyisha Hassan, native of Marin County and former Howard University student, committed suicide last Tuesday.  Her friends believe that Hassan’s death is related to ongoing struggles she was having with her sexual orientation, even though she clearly identified as lesbian on campus.”She was having a lot of trouble with a lot of different things, but mainly her sexual identity and just trying to express that,” Lauren Morris, a 21-year-old fourth year student at Howard University, told Metro Weekly.    Morris confirmed that she and Hassan attended regular meetings of C.A.S.C.A.D.E., the Coalition of Activist Students Celebrating the Acceptance of Diversity and Equality, Howard University’s LGBT student group.  Students on the Howard campus believe that recent news about the struggle for LGBTQ human rights played a part in Hassan’s death. ”I absolutely think that this is connected in a way to the failure of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ to be repealed,” Sterling Washington told Metro Weekly. Washington, who is gay, is a co-founder of the Howard LGBT group. ”What happens in a large group trickles down to the junior members… so in this case it’s members of society so it affects youth in general,” he said. ”Those straight-identified youth who already had a proclivity, who already had from their parents, their socialization, this idea that gays are less than, it sort of gives them permission and facilities this whole bullying thing so that those that are most vulnerable to it sometimes see suicide as an out.”  Records at Howard University indicate that Hassan attended there for the 2008-2009 school year, before returning home to California.  She is the child of a prominent Marin County, California non-profit executive, Makini Hassan, director of Marin City Community Development Corporation, according to The San Francisco Chronicle Blog, SF Weekly.  The blog goes on to detail that the elder Hassan once headed Career Services for Goodwill Industries in San Francisco, San Mateo, and Marin Counties.  Aiyisha Hassan’s memorial is planned tomorrow, October 13, in Los Angeles, but the family is planning a Saturday memorial service in Marin County, as well.  Students at Howard University are rallying tomorrow to remember their classmate and friend with a candlelight vigil.  The death toll of LGBTQ youth and young adults is mounting with a deadly steadiness.  As of this writing, it is unclear whether bullying played a role in Hassan’s decision to end her life.  By some calculations, she is the eighth young LGBTQ person to take her own life in the past five weeks, and the second African American.

October 12, 2010 Posted by | African Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Bullying in schools, California, harassment, Hate Crime Statistics, Heterosexism and homophobia, Howard University, Lesbian women, LGBT teen suicide prevention, LGBTQ suicide, Remembrances, Washington, D.C. | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Transgender California Teen Dies in Fear of Bullying

 

Chloe Lacy before transitioning

 

Clovis, California – When Chloe Lacy decided earlier this year to transition from male to female in order to become who she really was inside, she feared what her peers would do.  Chloe, née Justin Lacy, told her family that she had nightmares about what people at Buchanan High School would do to her when they learned about her transgender identity, according to KMJN Radio News.  Her mother, Allison Murphy, told reporters for KFSN News, “Who wants to see a young man walking down the street with a dress on? In his eyes, that was the worst fear of all time, for someone to throw rocks at him, beat him up. It’s just the overall society judgment is what did this.”  Reflecting on the recent suicides of Tyler Clementi in New Jersey and Seth Walsh in California, Chloe’s stepfather said, “That’s what we’re creating as a society. We’re creating this incredible cloud of fear for these individuals and they feel they have nowhere to go.”  Chloe’s mother said that as far back as kindergarten, her child was expressing a different gender presentation than her biological gender.  During high school, Mrs. Murphy says that she forbade Chloe from coming out as transgender, for fear of harm.  Chloe struggled with what the steps of transition would mean to her, seeking therapy and support, but mostly living a lonely existence at home except for a group of girls at Buchanan High in Clovis where she found a sense of peace and acceptance.  After graduating from high school this past year, Mrs. Murphy says that Chloe moved away north to Eureka to begin a post-secondary education.  There, she started to wear women’s clothing more often, and shyly becoming the person she always knew she was.  Fear killed Chloe, fear of misunderstanding and bullying, according to her family.  Just a few days before her 19th birthday, on September 24 Chloe shot and killed herself inside her Eureka home where she was living for school. Her mother and stepfather say Chloe’s death reflects the deaths of other teens who have recently committed suicide due to bullying, according to KFSN News.  The Equality Forum, an LGBTQ history and news site, seven youths have committed suicide in recent months due to anti-gay and anti-trans bullying.  Chloe makes the seventh.  Both in Eureka and in Clovis, moves are afoot to remember Chloe in vigils and school assemblies.  The Murphys intend to be at all of these commemorative events they can, speaking out against intolerance and bullying against youth like their Chloe.

October 12, 2010 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Bullying in schools, California, gay teens, Gender Variant Youth, gun violence, harassment, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBT teen suicide prevention, LGBTQ suicide, New Jersey, Remembrances, Slurs and epithets, transgender persons, transphobia, Vigils | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Remembering Matthew Shepard on the 12th Anniversary of His Murder

Laramie, Wyoming – Matthew Shepard was brutally assaulted on a lonely ridge overlooking Laramie, Wyoming on this day twelve years ago. He died in a coma in Fort Collins, Colorado, with his family by his side.  Much has changed.  Much has not.  His hate crime murder has set the pattern by which all LGBTQ hate crimes murder victims are remembered, both for good and ill.  Good, in that many American’s are more keenly aware of the problem of anti-LGBTQ hate crimes and the issues surrounding the struggle for human rights equality because of his death.  Millions of people around the world came to know about other hate crimes murder victims through the lens of Matthew’s story.  His family foundation, The Matthew Shepard Foundation, has done untold good advocating for justice, equality and the embrace of diversity in American life.  His mother, Judy Shepard, has become one of the most visible and effective spokespeople for human rights in our time–a true conscience for the nation.  It is no mistake that the long-awaited federal hate crimes law, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, is named in honor of Matthew, largely through the dogged persistence of this estimable woman who will not take “no” for an answer.  It was a proud day for all of us when President Obama signed the bill protecting LGBTQ Americans from bias-motivated crimes last October, inclusive of transgender people and disabled persons, as well.  But there is a downside to the way Matthew Shepard’s story is remembered in this country too, one neither he nor his family are guilty of–and one we must all act to redress.  The story of Matthew Shepard has tended to overshadow the remembrance of any other LGBTQ hate crimes victim, especially if that person was non-white, older and therefore less attractive, disabled somehow, or feminine in gender presentation.  This has been true of the many gender variant youth of color who have died in staggering numbers as the 21st century has dawned.  In the case of 15-year-old Sakia LaTona Gunn, an African American lesbian Aggressive, murdered at a bus stop in Newark, New Jersey, relatively few media stories on her outrageous murder broke into the national press compared to the thousands that flooded the channels when Matt died.  Much ink has been spilled over why this was so, but in order to honor Matthew, we must demand that ALL LGBTQ stories are told with the passion and respect his has been.  Finally, following Judy Shepard’s example, we must use this anniversary to cry out for Safe Schools for all children.  As she wrote on the Matthew Shepard Foundation blog in early October, “Our young people deserve better than to go to schools where they are treated this way. We have to make schools a safe place for our youth to prepare for their futures, not be confronted with threats, intimidation or routine disrespect. Quite simply, we are calling one more time for all Americans to stand up and speak out against taunting, invasion of privacy, violence and discrimination against these youth by their peers, and asking everyone in a position of authority in their schools and communities to step forward and provide safe spaces and support services for LGBT youth or those who are simply targeted for discrimination because others assume they are gay. There can never be enough love and acceptance for these young people as they seek to live openly as their true selves and find their role in society.”  In October 2008, I spoke at “Hope Not Hate,” an anniversary service for the city of Austin, Texas, commemorating the deaths of Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., both unwitting martyrs to the cause of true equality in American life.  I said at that time, in part, “We who believe in justice cannot rest! We who believe in justice cannot rest until it comes! When a mother like Judy Shepard challenges us to send a different message to America than the one delivered by the men who killed her son, we must embrace that memory with all its pain, and break out of defeat into action.”  I believe more fervently in the work of erasing hatred today than ever.  Rest in Peace, Matthew, Sakia, and all our sisters and brothers.

~ Stephen V. Sprinkle, Director of the Unfinished Lives Project

October 12, 2010 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Bisexual persons, Bullying in schools, Colorado, gay men, gay teens, Gender Variant Youth, harassment, Hate Crimes, hate crimes prevention, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Legislation, Lesbian women, LGBT teen suicide prevention, LGBTQ suicide, Matthew Shepard, Matthew Shepard Act, Matthew Shepard Foundation, Media Issues, Remembrances, Sakia Gunn Film Project, Social Justice Advocacy, Special Comments, transgender persons, transphobia, Wyoming | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Wolf-Like” Street Gang Gay-Bashing Rampage In New York

Latin King Goonies Arrested for Anti-Gay Torture (NY Daily News composite photo)

New York City, New York – Members of the Latin King Goonies, a street gang based in the Bronx, went on the attack last week to brutalize men they perceived to be gay, including a 17-year-old allegedly sodomized with the wooden handle of the toilet plunger.  The New York Daily News reports that seven members of the Goonies were arrested, ranging in ages from 16- to 23-years-old.  At least two other gang members are being sought by police in connection with the homophobic series of crimes.  “These suspects employed terrible, wolf-pack odds of nine against one, odds which revealed them as predators whose crimes were as cowardly as they were despicable,” Ray Kelly, Police Commissioner for New York City told reporters for the News. Throughout the attacks, the suspects shouted homophobic slurs at their victims.  According to The Advocate, the suspects allegedly ran amok after learning that one of their new gang initiates, a 17-year-old, was a gay.  They kidnapped and tortured a 30-year-old man believed to be the lover of the Goonies pledge, sadistically forcing the youth to burn his friend with lit cigarettes.  The victim was also beaten with a chain, forced to chug large amounts of an alcohol-laced energy drink called Four Loko, and then was sodomized with a small baseball bat.   A second 17-year-old male was kidnapped and sodomized with a wooden toilet plunger handle while the others were forced to watch.  The Daily News report says that the gang topped off the day by beating and robbing a fourth man.  Led by 23-year-old Ildefonso (Cheto) Mendez, the seven were transported to the 41st Precinct station, where they are being held pending arraignment.  Besides Mendez, those arrested were David Rivera, 21; Nelson Falu, 18; Steven Carballo, 17; Denis Peitars, 17; Bryan Almonte, 17; and Brian Cepeda, 16. Still being sought, they said, are Elmer Confessor, 23; and Ruddy Vargas-Perez, 22. The suspects are charged with sodomy, abduction, imprisonment, menacing, assault, and robbery–all categorized as hate crimes.  Reaction the anti-gay rampage has been swift.  New York authorities are especially sensitive to anti-gay bias crimes in the wake of a recent bashing incident involving two young men who assaulted a gay man in the toilet of the historic Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, the birthplace of the Gay Rights Movement in America.  Numbers of anti-LGBTQ hate crimes are on the rise in New York according to The Daily News.  As of Monday, this year’s total has reached 44 as compared with 41 at this same time a year ago.  Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., said, “Bronxites will not tolerate any form of bigotry in our borough,” and New York City Council Speaker, Christine Quinn demanded action against gay bashers throughout the five boroughs.”These attacks are appalling and are even more despicable because the victims were clearly targeted in acts of hate simply because they are gay,” she said. Police Commissioner Kelly told reporters that this latest attack had nothing to do with a gang initiation.  This one was about pure hatred of homosexuals.  One 17-year-old victim, Kelly said, was “thrown into a wall, made to strip naked, hit in the head with a beer can, cut with a box cutter and sodomized with the wooden handle of a plunger.”  According to the New York Times City Blog, the tortures took place over several hours at 1910 Osbourne Place, a Goonies safe house often surrounded by as many as ten pit bull attack dogs.  Residents of Morris Heights called the site, “the Goonies House,” and told investigators that the gang used it to throw parties, have sex, and as a staging ground for their attacks on a series of victims in recent months.  Commissioner Kelly told the press that the attackers worked hard to clean up after their bloody work.  The suspects pulled up linoleum, ripped out rugs, and repainted the torture chamber where the crimes took place.  One detective told the Commissioner that the house was “The cleanest crime scene I’ve ever seen,” quote unquote. “Lots of bleach and paint were used to cover the blood shed by their tortured prey. They even poured bleach down the drains,” Kelly said.  Still, the investigators were able to find significant amounts of evidence, including blood and human hair.  “They could clean,” said Commissioner Kelly, “but they couldn’t hide.”

October 9, 2010 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, Blame the victim, Bronx, Gang violence, gay men, gay teens, harassment, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Kidnapping and sexual assault, Latino and Latina Americans, Law and Order, New York, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, rape, Slurs and epithets, Torture and Mutilation | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gay Prof’s Message to Gay Youth Goes National: “God Loves You!”

Fort Worth, Texas – A gay divinity school professor’s short video message of God’s acceptance and love for LGBTQ youth has “gone national,” according to The Dallas Voice.  Reporting on an Associated Press story about the It Gets Better Project started by Dan Savage to speak directly to American gay young people who have been shaken by multiple teen gay suicide throughout the nation, Dallas Voice online editor, John Wright, opined that Dr. Stephen Sprinkle’s Santa Claus-like demeanor and grandfatherly message has struck a positive chord among thousands of YouTube watchers.  Sprinkle’s 4-minute video was one of only four featured in a national AP story about submissions to the effort to give LGBTQ teens and young adults a reason to resist suicide because of despair.  Savage told the New York Times what he hoped would happen as gay men and lesbians caught onto the idea of sending a positive message to LGBTQ teens through YouTube.  He said, “I don’t want it to be ‘lifestyles of the gay and fabulous.’  What we want to say to kids is that if you don’t win the economic lottery, and most people don’t, you can have a good and decent and fun life that brings love.” In barely two weeks, the It Gets Better Channel on YouTube has had over 1,000 video uploads selected by Savage, and a million visitors.  As the AP story says, “comment threads are growing and e-mails are pouring in from bullied and closeted teens.”  Among the many emails Sprinkle has received have been two so far from young men struggling with God and their sexuality.  One who is 18 told Sprinkle he was on the verge of “exploding” over the question of God and gays.  As a closeted gay person, the teen doubts that God can love and approve of a same-gender-loving person.  Over and over, he asked Sprinkle “Does God hate me? Are you sure?”  Sprinkle replied, “Heavens no!  God created you wonderfully and beautifully as a gay person. God doesn’t make mistakes.”  Then Sprinkle says he connected the youth with counseling help so that the healing can begin in this young man’s life.  At this point, over 12,000 viewers have seen Sprinkle’s video.  When asked about how the sudden popular response to the video makes him feel, Sprinkle said, “My hope is that, regardless of the messenger, the message gets through that God fully and thoroughly accepts and loves LGBTQ young people.”

October 8, 2010 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, Bisexual persons, gay men, gay teens, hate crimes prevention, Heterosexism and homophobia, It Gets Better Project (IGBP), Latino and Latina Americans, Lesbian women, LGBT teen suicide prevention, LGBTQ suicide, Media Issues, Popular Culture, religious hate speech, religious intolerance, Social Justice Advocacy, Texas, transgender persons, transphobia, Trevor Project | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Gay Prof’s Message to Gay Youth Goes National: “God Loves You!”

Gay Student’s Death Sparks Anti-Bullying Legislation in New Jersey

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) speaks at Rutgers Forum Wednesday

New Brunswick, New Jersey – Frank Lautenberg, a Democratic United States Senator from New Jersey, told a forum at Rutgers University on Wednesday that he will introduce anti-bullying legislation to protect vulnerable people, such as LGBTQ youth.  Since gay Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge last month , a broad national discussion has arisen  around the nation about LGBTQ teen suicide and the role school and university bullying play in it.  Clementi, 18, a gifted young violinist who came to Rutgers to join its famed student orchestra, killed himself because he was outed by his roommate on the internet for a gay tryst in their dorm room.  His roommate, Dharun Ravi, 18, of Plainsboro, New Jersey, planted a hidden webcam in the room and switched it on to capture live-stream images of Clementi “making out” with another young man on September 22.  Another freshman, Molly Wei, also 18 and hailing from Princeton, NJ, participated in the cyber voyeurism.  Sources say that Ravi attempted to broadcast another evening of lovemaking on the web the following night.  Ravi and Wei face invasion of privacy charges that would result in five years in prison for each student, if proven guilty.  Wei’s attorneys have filed a “not guilty” plea to the charges, and have recently sent sympathy messages to Clementi’s family.  Senator Lautenberg announced to the crowd of 300 at the Wednesday forum that he would introduce a statute to “fix the problem” of harassment and bullying in schools and colleges.  In a press release from his office, Senator Lautenberg said, “The suicide of Tyler Clementi is a tragic reminder that college dormitories, dining halls and classrooms are not always safe places for students. We need to increase efforts that ensure all students have the opportunity to learn in a safe and secure environment. My legislation will fill a void in federal law and for the first time require colleges to establish plans to protect their students from harassment and bullying.” The proposed legislation would require schools and universities receiving federal money to adhere to a code of conduct prohibiting harassment and bullying, and to establish clear and orderly procedures to respond to allegations of this type of behavior. Such policies are not currently required by federal law, according to the New Jersey Democrat. The bill also would provide funding for schools to establish programs to deter harassment of students. “If you can’t be safe on a college campus, it’s an outrageous, outrageous condition,” Senator Lautenberg said, according to My Central Jersey.  The audience also heard from victims of bullying in the schools, and their parents.  Yahoo News reports that the Clementi family has been quiet throughout this ordeal.  In the one statement they have publicly made, Tyler’s father said they hoped their son’s death would “serve as a call for compassion, empathy and human dignity.”

October 7, 2010 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Asian Americans, Bullying in schools, cyber voyeurism, gay teens, harassment, Hate Crimes, hate crimes prevention, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Legislation, LGBT teen suicide prevention, LGBTQ suicide, New Jersey, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Protests and Demonstrations, Rutgers University, Social Justice Advocacy, U.S. Senate | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Gay Student’s Death Sparks Anti-Bullying Legislation in New Jersey

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