Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

East Texas Acknowledges ’93 Anti-Gay Murder–Finally

Tyler, Texas – A young gay Texan kidnapped, tortured, and murdered in East Texas will be remembered at at plaque-laying ceremony at the park from which he was kidnapped in October 1993.  Project TAG (Tyler Area Gays) and Tyler AIDS Services plan to place a plaque honoring Nicolas West in Bergfeld Park on World AIDS Day, December 1, according to the Dallas Voice.  West, 23 at the time of his murder, was lured to the park by three men with the offer of sex.  The men abducted West, drove him out to a remote area of Smith County, and forced him to strip and kneel in a clay pit.  His murderers tortured him, and shot him no fewer than 15 times.  The three assailants, Donald Aldrich, Henry Earl Dunn, and David McMillan, were arrested and charged with capital murder.  The trio confessed they targeted West because he was a gay man.  Both Aldrich and Dunn were executed for the crime.  Since McMillan was 17 at the time of the murder, he received a life sentence that he is still serving.  Bill and Kent’s Place, a memorial site where LGBTQ hate crimes victims are remembered online, quotes Aldrich’s cold blooded logic for attacking and murdering a gay man.  Aldrich said, “If you can walk into a 7-11 and rob a 7-11 for 15, 20 bucks, get your face on videotape, have somebody that’s gonna call the police; or if you can go into a park, rob somebody that’s out in the dark, come away with a hell of a lot more – because of the fact that they’re homosexual and they don’t want people to know it, they’re not gonna go report it to the police. Who you gonna go rob? Where you’re gonna get in the least amount of trouble.” The negative stereo-types assigned to gays and lesbians caused Aldrich to assume no one would really miss “a queer.”  At the time of Aldrich’s sentencing to death in 1994, Diana Hardy-Garcia, executive of the Lesbian and Gay Rights Lobby told the press, “In Texas, there is a history of devaluing the lives of gay men and lesbians, which means people who murder them tend to receive lighter sentence because of who their victims are. But today justice was done. This is the first time a gay basher has been convicted of capital murder in Texas.” Though the hate crime murder of Nicolas West received some attention in the press and from independent film makers, the East Texas culture of denial and heterosexism resisted any attempts to remember West publicly until now.  In the summer, activists and the arts community staged “The Laramie Project” in memory of West, a performance many locals tried to prevent from ever happening.  Community sentiment turned more and more sympathetic to a public memorial for the young gay man who died because of hatred thanks to the work of TAG and its courageous leadership.  West’s memory was invoked during the Dallas Stonewall Rebellion Memorial March in June 2010, as hundreds of Texans marched through the steel and glass canyons of downtown Dallas.  After the plaque is laid in Bergfeld Park, the community plans a candlelight vigil for victims of hate crimes, and a service of remembrance for those who died of AIDS at a local Presbyterian Church.  Nothing compensates for the unimaginable pain, suffering, and terror Nicolas West endured at the hands of his killers seventeen years ago.  But the memorial plaque ceremony to be held in Tyler next month shows that East Texans are coming of age in regards to LGBTQ people.  Nicolas West did not die in vain.

November 11, 2010 - Posted by | Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Beatings and battery, Blame the victim, gay men, gun violence, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Kidnapping and sexual assault, Law and Order, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Protests and Demonstrations, Remembrances, Social Justice Advocacy, Texas, Torture and Mutilation, Vigils | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment

  1. It’s about time East Texas woke up and repented its murderous attitudes. I’d never heard this story until now, thanks for posting this. I’ll make note of this on my own blog.

    Comment by Russ Manley | November 11, 2010

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

%d bloggers like this: