Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

White Supremacist Loyalty Led to Larry King’s Murder, Expert Testifies

Chatsworth, Los Angeles, California – Larry King’s alleged killer was influenced by white supremacist and neo-Nazi ideals to shoot his gay classmate to death, according to the testimony of an expert witness.  Beginning on Wednesday, July 20, the Prosecutor Maeve Fox introduced evidence that Brandon McInerney held violent, ingrained white supremacist biases against gay people.  Drawings of swastikas and other white supremacist symbols and illustrations that McInerney possessed in his home and in his prison cell were presented to the court. On Friday, Simi Valley Police Detective Dan Swanson, an expert on white supremacy, testified to the court that McInerney’s embrace of white supremacist tenets was the primary reason he hated 15-year-old Larry King enough to kill him.  White supremacists hold deep animosity for gays and lesbians, often resorting to physical violence against them, Swanson said.  He further told the court that McInerney was a violent member of a supremacist street gang, according to the Washington Post. McInerney’s defense team sought to discredit the prosecution’s bias case by presenting schoolmate and prison officer witnesses who testified that McInerney was not a white supremacist. The Ventura County Star reported that McInerney’s direct supervisor at juvenile hall, Chris Niblett, testified that McInerney was a “good kid” who sometimes got in fights with others, but on the whole showed no particular tendency for violence, and no evidence of gang membership. Niblett went on to say that McInerney was allowed to use a PlayStation as an award for good behavior. Three juvenile hall videos of fights involving McInerney with other inmates were shown to the jury on Friday.  The prosecution said that they demonstrated, in contradiction to defense image of their client, that McInerney was prone to violence.

McInerney is charged with the execution-style murder of Lawrence Fobes “Larry” King in his middle school classroom in February 2008. He is being charged and tried as an adult, though at the time of the fatal shooting, McInerney was 14 years old. Prosecuting Attorney Fox told the media that she would wrap up her case against McInerney perhaps as early as Wednesday of nest week.

July 23, 2011 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-Gay Hate Groups, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, California, gay bashing, gay teens, Gender Variant Youth, GLBTQ, gun violence, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, LGBTQ, Neo-Nazis and White Supremacy, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, School and church shootings | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Transwoman in D.C. Shot to Death

Lashai McLean, 23, gunned down in Northeast D.C.

Washington, D.C. – A 23-year-old transgender woman was brutally shot to death in the early hours of Wednesday, according to the Advocate.  Lashai McLean, described by her family as a caring person whose acts of kindness made a difference in people’s lives, was reported shot in the vicinity of a shelter for homeless LGBT youth where she had sought housing in the past at 4:26 a.m., according to Washington Metro Police.  Though an anti-transgender bias has not yet been declared by authorities, the entire District of Columbia transgender community is on alert.  A $25,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrators of this crime. Ms. McLean’s murder is an ominous continuation of a viral epidemic of transgender killings in D.C. and throughout the nation, especially targeting transwomen of color.  On the same night as Ms. McLean was shot down in cold blood, police acknowledged another shooting in a nearby neighborhood. The victim in this second shooting survived, but is in critical condition in hospital. Police have not officially linked the two shootings.  A large crowd of grieving family and friends gathered at the Transgender Health Empowerment (THE) office, the parent organization of the shelter where Ms. McLean had received assistance, as news swiftly spread throughout the transgender community. Fox News 5 quoted THE executive Earline Budd: “It’s been time and time again we’ve been getting calls here at Transgender Health Empowerment about stabbings. They’ve been shot and they’ve been beat up and I can just say that I can’t say Shay was involved in any illegal activities in terms of being there, but I can tell you clearly that area has a lot of violence and we work very closely to educate young ladies.”  Budd went on to say that transgender women are constantly in peril, and the city must do something to stop the killings and attacks. D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray expressed dismay over Ms. McLean’s murder, and pledged to work closely with metro police to determine whether sexual orientation and gender expression were motivators for her slaying.  Mayor Vincent declared that violence such as this would not be tolerated in the district. Meanwhile, the incalculable human toll of Ms. McLean’s loss is compounding among her friends and family. Ms. McLean’s financé, Jason Coleman, told NBC Washington that he planned to marry her. “She was lovely,” he said. “I wanted to be with her the rest of my life. It just hurts my heart. It hurts me terrible. I don’t know what I’m going to do without her.”  Breaking News: Metro Weekly reports that a community vigil is planned at the site of Ms. McLean’s murder, on the 6100 block of Dix Street NE, Saturday, July 23 at 7 p.m. The public is invited to attend and remember a lady who was beloved in the district.

July 22, 2011 Posted by | African Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, gender identity/expression, GLBTQ, gun violence, Hate Crimes, Law and Order, LGBTQ, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Remembrances, Social Justice Advocacy, transgender persons, transphobia, Unsolved LGBT Crimes, Vigils, Washington, D.C., women | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

DADT Repeal Certification Friday, July 22nd, But at What Cost to LGBTQ Americans? A Special Comment

Pfc. Barry Winchell's grave

Both CNN and the San Diego Union-Tribune are reporting tonight that final certification of DADT repeal will take place Friday in Washington, D.C.  But our celebrations are sobered at the Unfinished Lives Project by the magnitude of the cost to the LGBTQ community in servicemembers’ lives and careers in order to get to this landmark moment. When Secretary Leon Panetta signs the documents of certification at the Pentagon, signifying that the chiefs of the Armed Services have previously reported to him that full and open service by gay, lesbian, and bisexual soldiers, sailors, marines, airwomen and airmen, national guardsmen and women, and coast guardsmen and women poses no threat or harm to the morale, unit cohesion, or mission readiness of the Armed Forces, a giant step toward full equality for LGBTQ people will be made.  Seventeen years of the most oppressive and blatantly discriminatory anti-gay policy in contemporary memory will be over; but not before the incalculable cost of the lives of queer servicemembers who died before seeing this day dawn. At the Unfinished Lives Project, we have invoked the names and stories of some of them: Petty Officer Allen R. Schindler, U.S. Navy; Pfc. Barry Winchell, U.S. Army; Pfc. Michael Scott Goucher, U.S. Army Reserve; Seaman August Provost, U.S. Navy.  May they and all the others they represent rest in peace! These patriots died outrageous deaths at the hands of hatred and unreasoning bias, enabled by a military culture that either encouraged violence against suspected LGB servicemembers, or at the very least turned a blind eye toward such violence. Celebration of repeal is in order, and celebrate we will. The dead are honored by this act of justice, signifying that they have not died in vain. But we will also be mindful that no stroke of a pen, even one so powerful as the one wielded by the Secretary of Defense, will eliminate homophobia and heterosexism in the Armed Services. Ships, barracks, and foreign fields of service will be haunted with the hatred that has been passed down from generation to generation of American military personnel. Backlash is in full swing, as we have seen most graphically among right-wing conservative military chaplains whose appeals to exempt their anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and teachings as freedom of religion served to be the last bastion of “homophobia-masquerading-as-liberty” in the armed services. Thankfully, as certification on Friday shows, the vast majority of servicemembers of all ranks reject discrimination for what it truly is: un-American. In memory of all our LGBTQ servicemembers (of all faiths and faith-free, as the case may be) who have died in part or in full because of the ravages of hate crimes, we dedicate a portion of Fr. Thomas Merton’s most famous poem, written in memory of his brother, John Paul, killed in action in World War II, entitled, “For My Brother, Reported Missing In Action, 1943” [The Collected Poems of Thomas Merton, New Directions, 1977, p. 35-36]:
:

When all the men of war are shot

And flags have fallen into dust,

Your cross and mine shall tell men still

Christ died on each for both of us.

For in the wreckage of your April Christ lies slain,

And Christ weeps in the ruins of my spring:

The money of Whose tears shall fall

Into your weak and friendless hand,

And buy you back to your own land:

The silence of Whose tears shall fall

Like bells upon your alien tomb.

Hear them and come: they call you home.

July 22, 2011 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Asian Americans, Bisexual persons, Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT), gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, Legislation, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, military, Military Chaplaincy, National Guard, religious intolerance, Remembrances, Social Justice Advocacy, Special Comments, transgender persons, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Marines, U.S. Navy, Vigils, Washington, D.C. | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Gay Cowboy Stoned To Death in Apparent Revenge Killing

Jason "Cowboy" Huggins, from his Facebook page

San Diego, California – On June 22, a wounded 31-year-old gay man struggled out of a gorge near the 1300 block of Washington Street, San Diego, and flagged down a passing motorist. He managed to tell the driver that he had been attacked with blows to his head from a rock before he fell unconscious from his injuries.  Police and paramedics responded, and Jason “Cowboy” Huggins was rushed to the Mercy Hospital trauma center where his condition deteriorated rapidly.  Huggins, a well-liked member of the San Diego LGBTQ community, fell into a coma, and two weeks later, on July 6, died from massive injuries to his head and brain from blunt force trauma.  He had been literally stoned to death. 10News.com reported that police arrested Joshua James Larson, 37, two days after the stoning, and charged him with the Huggins attack and a second assault charge in another case.  He is being held on $1 million for the crimes, and could serve from 33 years to life in prison if found guilty of the charges. Investigative reporting uncovered that Huggins had testified against Larson two years prior to the attack, alleging that Larson was guilty of drug possession and grand larceny. Though police have not issued a motive in the killing, and have not labeled the case a hate crime, revenge is suspected to be the motive.  Was the murderous attack motivated by anti-LGBTQ phobia?  The facts seem unclear about whether and to what extent that may have been a contributing factor. The nature of the attack, however, a prehistoric homicide with biblical overtones, caught the attention of the press. Even though sexual orientation has not been identified by the police as an aggravating factor in the murder of “Cowboy” Huggins, the San Diego LGBTQ community has rallied to his memory, and have raised money to help his relatives come to his funeral all the way from his native home in Clarksville, Tennessee, according to the San Diego Gay & Lesbian News. Huggins, who was easy to spot in the LGBTQ scene, was over 6 feet tall, and wore a cowboy hat, jeans, western shirt, boots, and a large, rodeo-style belt buckle.  In his Google Profile, he wrote, “I am a true cowboy from TN now living in sunny San Diego, CA. I am gay and have HIV too. Came out of the closet to all my redneck friends back in TN and was accepted because I am still a great friend that never overstepped my boundries.”  The New Civil Rights Movement notes that friends and family in his hometown of Clarksville knew about his sexual orientation and loved him very much. “We remember him being a kid with no aggressiveness in him at all,” Jennifer Sanders, Huggins’ aunt, said. “He was a fun-​loving, joking-​type of person, a very good kid. I call him a ‘kid’ because he was like my third child. We still can’t believe that it happened. It’s still a shock. He was only 31 years old. He’s going to be well missed by all of his friends out there in San Diego and his family.”  Faithful friends stood vigil for Cowboy Huggins from June 22 until his funeral day. So, Jason Baron Huggins was committed to his eternal rest on July 11 at Hillcrest in San Diego, attended by his family, friends, and a loyal LGBTQ community who loved him.  As one commenter on the Facebook event page wrote for all the world to see, “Rest in peace, Cowboy.”

July 17, 2011 Posted by | Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Beatings and battery, Bludgeoning, California, funerals, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, HIV/AIDS, Law and Order, LGBTQ, Media Issues, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Social Justice Advocacy, Tennessee, Vigils | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Lesbian Youth Activist Attacked in Downtown Portland

Kayla Stone, bashed on the streets of Portland (Just Out image)

Portland, Oregon – A 21-year-old musician and LGBTQ youth activist was brutally assaulted July 3 in what Portland Police are calling a bias-motivated crime.  Most concerning to the local LGBTQ community is that Kayla Stone appealed for help, and initially got none.  Stone, who plays guitar and sings for a local art gallery and for a home offering services to queer and transitional youth, is well-known in the LGBTQ scene in Portland.  She reported to Just Out that the night before the violence, she had performed at a local club when a group of Latinos menaced her as she left the venue, followed her for three blocks down the street, and called her an epithet.  Stone denounced the group, verbally defending herself, and they went away. The next night, on Sunday, sometime between 1 and 2:30 am, as she came back to the area to meet her date, the same group attacked her without provocation as soon as they recognized who she was. The assault was swift and brutal, and the shaken lesbian remembers little about the violence except the description of the first man to punch her in the face.  He had a teardrop tattoo underneath one of his eyes, Stone recalls.  But though the whole group struck out at her, leaving her face a bloody wreck, she fought back and refused to fall to the ground.  As she related to Just Out, “It was really intense for me, because it was like, wow, even though Rosa Parks is dead, these people that stood up against prejudice and racism are dead, I’m not. And I feel very thankful to not be. Because with how many people there were that night, I can’t believe I didn’t go down on my knees.”

When her assailants backed off and left her standing, Stone limped to The Escape, an all-ages gay bar, for help. Though there were witnesses to the assault who saw the whole attack, none of them offered to help or call police.  Stone says that in the aftermath of the attack, while she was struggling to get to The Escape, two police cruisers passed her by, and though she was obviously bloody and unsteady from being bashed, the officers did not help her.  Only when someone at the bar called 911, did police respond to her situation. Stone was taken to a hospital, but refused to be stitched up for fear that her injuries would be minimized by the authorities if she let Emergency Room personnel finish their treatment.  Instead, she asked a friend to take photos of the cuts, bruises, and lacerations she received from her bashers. Stone is a committed activist who is no stranger to discrimination. Reflecting on her assault, she says that being targeted for anti-LGBTQ hate crimes is part of the cost of being different. “I’m not trying to justify anything that occurs, but the point is that the revolution is not glamorous,” Stone said. “It means continuing to do what you say you’re going to do no matter what.”

Portland’s LGBTQ community has suffered a rash of gay and queer bashings in recent weeks. Two gay men were assaulted near the Hawthorne Bridge, and a Newport man was beaten as he tried to stop a an anti-gay attack.  The Stone case is now being treated as an anti-gay crime by Portland police, though the lack of evidence and witnesses agreeing to testify hamper the investigation. Courage and commitment to change homophobic and heterosexist patterns in society, like that exhibited by brave Kayla Stone, may yet break the cycle of violence against sexual minorities in the Portland area.

July 13, 2011 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, gay bashing, Gender Variant Youth, GLBTQ, harassment, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, Latinos, Law and Order, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Oregon, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Queer, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, transgender persons, transphobia, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Anti-Gay Murder Spikes Up 23% in 2010, Report Says

Mother of murdered Puerto Rican Transwoman, Ashley Santiago Ocasio, in April 2010 (Israel Gonzales photo for Primera Hora)

New York, New York – Alarming 2010 statistics from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) released today show a 23% increase in the number of confirmed murders of LGBTQ and HIV-Positive people in the United States.  The report documents the second highest increase in anti-gay murder in the organization’s history. Transgender people and queer people of color are the most targeted populations in America for “severe hate violence,”according to the media summary.  In addition to these staggering statistics for hate crimes murders, there has been a documented increase of hate violence against LGBTQ communities of 13% over 2009.  The NCAVP is the most comprehensive aggregator of anti-gay hate crimes statistics in the nation, serving as an important counterpoint to the Federal Bureau of Investigation stats issued annually as well.

In a national audio press conference today, the NCAVP released its report Hate Violence Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and HIV-Affected Communities in the United States in 2010. NCAVP collected data concerning hate violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-affected people, from 17 anti-violence programs in 15 states across the country including: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Texas, Vermont and Wisconsin. While the report shows the crisis of violence against sexual minority communities in the United States, the numbers of non-reporting states indicates that the actual number of cases of hate crimes against LGBTQ people is much, much higher than these statistics alone.

The NCAVP report quoted anti-violence experts from around the nation to highlight the severity of the losses for the last year: “This increase in murders signals a pattern of severe, ongoing violence against LGBTQ and HIV-affected communities,” said Jake Finney from L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center in Los Angeles, California. “Transgender individuals and people of color face multiple forms of discrimination on the basis of race, gender identity and other factors, which can make them more vulnerable to severe violence,” said Maria Carolina Morales from Community United Against Violence in San Francisco, California. “Additionally, the general public, law enforcement, and the media may be less inclined to address, prevent and respond to violence against these communities, making this violence seem invisible and ignored.” 

Among the findings of the report released today:

  • 27 murders of LGBTQ people were documented for 2010, a 23% increase over the 22 reported in 2009
  • 70% of these 27 murders were of transgender and queer people of color, showing an outsized incidence of violence associated with race, gender identity and expression, and poverty
  • 44% of the total of survivors and victims were transpeople and people of color
  • Transgender and queer people of color were much less apt to receive adequate medical attention and sufficient police protection
  • Transgender women made up 44% of the victims of murder in 2010, yet they represent on 11% of survivors
  • Transgender women, especially transwomen of color, were far likelier to have received injuries from violent attacks this past year, and far less likely to have received medical attention for their injuries
EDGE Boston reports that where controversies over same-sex marriage or state struggles over marriage amendments occur, the incidence of hate violence against sexual minorities rise exponentially. Colorado Anti-Violence Program’s spokesperson, Sandhya Luther told EDGE’s Michael K. Lavers, “We are aware the polarization of discussions will lead to more anti-LGBTQH violence.” Of particular concern are the 18 murders of LGBTQ Puerto Ricans recorded over the last year and a half. These latinate killings have been particularly brutal, and local activists and human rights advocates have called upon the U.S. Justice Department to intervene in the Territory to offset the apparent lack of local law enforcement to investigate these murders fairly.

July 12, 2011 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, bi-phobia, Bisexual persons, FBI, gay bashing, gay men, gay teens, gender identity/expression, Gender Variant Youth, GLBTQ, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, Latinos, Law and Order, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), New York, Puerto Rico, Racism, Social Justice Advocacy, transgender persons, transphobia, U.S. Justice Department | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

4 Year Old Boy Shot to Death, Suspected of Being Gay

Jadon Higganbothan, 4, shot to death "for being gay"

Durham, North Carolina – The leader of a religious group in Durham is being charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of 4-year-old Jadon Higganbothan, and of 27-year-old Antoinetta Yvonne McKoy by Durham County prosecutors. Higganbothan had last been seen alive in October 2010, and McKoy had been missing since December of the same year. WRAL.com reports that the remains of both victims were found last month buried behind a Durham home at 2622 Ashe Street. The remains might have gone undiscovered had a landlord not called a plumber to see what the overpowering smell emitting from the backyard of the house was.  The plumbing crew called police when they uncovered the source of the odor, decoying human bodies. Peter Lucas Moses Jr., 27, the leader of a group calling themselves the “Black Hebrews,” allegedly shot the little boy because he saw him touch or slap the buttocks of another boy.  According to testimony given in Durham County Court, Moses suspected that Higganbothan was gay because of his behavior, took the child into the basement of 2109 Pear Tree Lane in Durham, turned up loud music blaring the Lord’s Prayer in Hebrew, and shot him in the head. His remains were stuffed in a suitcase, and left on site until the smell became too strong, according to police sources. An informant told police investigators back in February of this year that both killings took place in the Pear Tree Lane house, where Moses lived with Vania Rae Sisk, 25, who is Jadon’s mother, Lavada Quinzetta Harris, 40, Larhonda Renee Smith, 40, and McKoy.  The three surviving women have been indicted as accessories to murder after the fact in the slaying of young Jadon, and for murder in the killing of McKoy, as well.  Besides the three women, who were considered common-law wives of Moses, Moses’ mother, Sheilda Evelyn Harris, 56, his brother, P. Leonard Moses, 21, and his sister, Sheila Falisha Moses, 20, have been indicted by Durham County prosecutors as accessories after the fact in McKoy’s murder, as well.  The motive for McKoy’s murder proposed by prosecutors is that Moses eliminated her because she was “barren,” unable to become pregnant and bear children. The Black Hebrews believe they are directly descended from the ancient tribes of Israel. They teach that there is a coming great war between the races, and that Blacks will emerge triumphant by an act of God.  Some members of the Moses family deny that they are members of the Black Hebrews, asserting only that they are “very religious.” The role McKoy may have played in the slaying of young Higganbothan and its aftermath remains unknown. A search of the Pear Tree Lane premises found a bullet, a shell casing, traces of human blood, and evidence of “overt cleaning” of the execution area.

July 10, 2011 Posted by | African Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Black Hebrews, Execution, GLBTQ, gun violence, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Homosexuality and the Bible, Israel, Law and Order, LGBTQ, multiple homicide, North Carolina, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Racism, religious intolerance, women | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on 4 Year Old Boy Shot to Death, Suspected of Being Gay

Why is Larry King Put On Trial for His Own Murder? Get the Full Story

Larry King (Newsweek graphic from "Young, Gay and Murdered")

Chatsworth, California – Larry King was murdered in cold blood in his first period computer classroom.  As he unsuspectingly worked on a paper on World War II, his middle school classmate, Brandon McInerney, allegedly moved up behind him and shot him in the back of the head before the unbelieving eyes of dozens of students and Ms. Joy Boldrin, his teacher. Then McInerney, who had been a party to harassing Larry for months about his gender non-conformity, pointed the .22 pistol again and delivered a coup de grace to Larry’s ravaged head.  In his landmark book,Unfinished Lives: Reviving the Memories of LGBTQ Hate Crimes Victims (Resource Publications 2011) , Dr. Stephen Sprinkle treats the King/McInerney story at length, exploring the backgrounds and struggles of both teenagers. In the chapter, “Baby Boys, You Stay On My Mind,” Sprinkle sets Larry’s murder in the context of other assassinations of femininely presenting boys of color throughout the United States in early 2008.  Larry King fought back with the only power he had: his camp persona.  Half African-American, he was small, gracile, and not nearly as strong as the gang of boys, the “Young Marines,” surrounding Brandon McInerney. Larry learned to flirt in order to push back against his harassers. By the time of his murder, Larry was a five-year veteran of bullying in schools. McInerney, though slightly younger than Larry, was cultivating a “cool” image with middle school girls–an image aided by his overt harassment of Larry, “the little fag.” Underneath the surface of McInerney’s “cool,” though, was a budding white supremacist, whose confused masculinity chose violence as a way to silence the boy who turned the tables on him. Almost from the moment Larry’s murder hit the newswire, journalists started digging for dirt on the young gender outlaw.  Newsweek’s infamous article by Ramin Satoodeh labeled Larry a sexual aggressor in a blaze of controversial hot type. The Gun Lobby sprang into action to defend handguns. Larry’s partisans struck out at McInerney’s character, too. As Sprinkle details the journalistic feeding frenzy in the days following the murder, “these two boys were both abused by a media establishment determined to give a voracious public the news it was hungry to have: digestible pictures of a victim and his alleged killer to feed the insatiable American fascination with teen-on-teen violence.” 

Opening arguments in the McInerney trial, now taking place after three years of legal wrangling over Brandon’s status as a juvenile or an adult, and a critical change of trial venue, are busy following the lead of the media. Larry is being portrayed as a maladjusted predator (at 15? How is this possible?), and McInerney is being painted as a first-degree murderer who planned homicide in large part because of his homophobia and transphobia. The defense is indulging in a what amounts to the gay panic defense that has been discredited in courtrooms throughout the nation. Behind the defense strategy is the amazing idea that any expression of sexuality on the part of a gender non-conforming person makes violence legitimate in response. Just as Sprinkle surmised, the trial is going to turn on whether Larry King can be put on the stand as the chief malefactor instead of the defendant. As Sprinkle says, “There is a stark difference between the boys that no media wizard can resolve.  While Brandon remains alive and able to defend himself against the negative portrayals of his identity, Larry King cannot. He lost his voice in death” (Unfinished Lives, p. 284).

Unfinished Lives recounts in a chapter-length format the backstory of this, the most-publicized anti-LGBTQ hate crime murder since the slaying of Matthew Shepard in 1998. The book also tells the stories of thirteen other gay, lesbian, and transgender lives in these United States cut brutally short by unreasoning violence.  Unfinished Lives will be an indispensable resource for anyone wanting to understand the McInerney murder trial for what it really is.  To explore or purchase the book, go to http://www.amazon.com/Unfinished-Lives-Reviving-Memories-Victims/dp/1608998118/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1310064063&sr=1-1 or to https://wipfandstock.com/store/Unfinished_Lives_Reviving_the_Memories_of_LGBTQ_Hate_Crimes_Victims

July 7, 2011 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Blame the victim, Bullying in schools, California, Character assassination, Execution, gay bashing, gay panic defense, gay teens, gender identity/expression, Gender Variant Youth, GLBTQ, gun violence, harassment, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Media Issues, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Remembrances, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, trans-panic defense, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Stop Church Homophobia!”: LGBTQ Christians to Pope

Pope Benedict XVI

Rome, Vatican City – Thousands of LGBTQ Christians issued an Open Letter to Pope Benedict XVI, appealing to him to end the Roman Church’s bigotry against the sexual and gender variant minority throughout the world at Roma Euro Pride on June 10.  Among the 44 organizations endorsing the Open Letter to the Pope were Americans, including the pioneer gay priest, Fr. John J. McNeill.  In brief, the signatories from the European Forum of LGBT Christians call on Pope Benedict: ” We appeal to Your Holiness to condemn acts of violence against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people, and for Your Holiness cooperation in lifting the penalisation of homosexual acts worldwide. Silence from Your Holiness is interpreted by people engaged in violence, torture, and murder as consent to their actions.”  The letter goes on to impress on the Pope the importance that priests cease pressing LGBTQ people to undergo “reparative therapy” in misbegotten attempts to change their sexual orientations.  The full text of the Open Letter to Pope Benedict is viewable here.

Roma Euro Pride 2011, Flavio Michelle Pinna photo

MacNeill, a gay Jesuit priest and psychotherapist who authored groundbreaking books (such as The Church and the Homosexual in 1976) on Christian spirituality and homosexuality, was silenced by Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) and forbidden to continue his ministry among LGBTQ people, first in 1977, then in 1983 and yet again in 1986 with a severe rebuke.  Then,  in October 1986, Cardinal Ratzinger issued the Vatican’s infamous “ Letter on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons,” which defined homosexuality as “an objective disorder” and “a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil.”  LGBTQ-friendly groups were expelled from Roman Catholic parishes worldwide.  MacNeill broke his silence, refusing to cease his work and activism.  MacNeill’s participation in the 2011 Open Letter to the Pope challenges the very man who attempted to muzzle him, and who has done more than any recent prelate to harm LGBTQ people, giving him yet another chance to live up to his faith, and recant his ecclesial bigotry.  A film on Fr. MacNeill’s life, “Taking a Chance on God,” premiered in Rome during Euro Pride 2011 as reported by the San Francisco Sentinel.

Reports of over a million attended the festivities in Rome this year, culminating in a huge Mardi Gras-style parade on June 11, after nearly two weeks of games, forums, worldwide press events. For the first time ever, Euro Pride included an emphasis on Faith and Homosexuality.

July 6, 2011 Posted by | Being Gay is a Gift From God Campaign, Bisexual persons, Euro Pride 2011, Fr. John MacNeill, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Homosexuality and the Bible, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Pope Benedict XVI, religious hate speech, religious intolerance, Roman Catholic Church and Homosexuality, Rome, Social Justice Advocacy, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on “Stop Church Homophobia!”: LGBTQ Christians to Pope

Teenager Goes On Trial for 1st Degree Murder of Gay Classmate–Finally

Brandon McInerney (l), Lawrence Fobes "Larry" King (r)

San Fernando Valley, California – The notorious execution-style murder of a 15-year-old, mixed race, gender variant student in his computer classroom made national headlines in February 2008–because his alleged murderer was barely 14.  There has been no doubt about the facts of the case. Brandon McInerney allegedly shot his gender non-conforming classmate, Lawrence Fobes “Larry” King in the back of the head while his teacher and dozens of his horrified classmates looked on in disbelief. McInerney had breathed threats against King to other students prior to the shooting, and showed apparent premeditation by bringing his grandfather’s .22 pistol to the E.O. Green Middle School classroom.  What has always been in dispute since the earliest reports of this heinous murder are the circumstances and state of mind that brought McInerney to the point of cold blooded murder.  Students reported that Larry King, who was living at a specialized home for abused and abandoned youth, was blatantly non-conforming in matters of gender and sexual performance.  King dressed in feminine clothing, wore high heels, and used makeup.  He answered the bullying culture of Southern California middle schools with what some have called defiance and others have named authenticity.  Larry King was “out,” and students in the Oxnard school he attended had problems with it.  None had a stronger aversion to King’s being and style than young Brandon McInerney, who displayed irritation and anger around King, and later, when King apparently developed something of a personal attraction to him, decided that extreme violence was the only answer to his rage and fear.  EDGE now reports that opening statements in the long-delayed trial of McInerney began Tuesday in a San Fernando Valley courtroom, rather than in Ventura County where the murder took place three years ago.  McInerney’s attorneys delayed and argued that their client was a juvenile, that the judge was biased, and that McInerney could not get a fair trial in Ventura County.  The defense team failed to keep their client out of court as an adult, and to force the judge to recuse himself or be removed.  But they did convince the court to move the venue of the trial, and by a battery of stalling tactics, to postpone the trial as long as possible so that memories of King’s murder would have the chance to fade.

National media debated the wisdom of trying a 14-year-old from a broken home as an adult, even though California law clearly mandated that a 14-year-old should stand trial as an adult in cases of murder.  Though the Golden State has some of the most progressive laws in the nation protecting LGBTQ residents, the atmosphere in schools throughout the state never has caught up with enlightened legal culture.  Bullying of gender variant youth in elementary, middle, and high schools in California is as rampant as anywhere in the nation, as highly publicized cases like the King-McInerney case demonstrate. King was permitted to come out and live fully as a youth in gender transition. While some gender variant students adopted a cautious demeanor in school, King used his budding femininity as a badge of honor.  Whether he had a genuine crush on McInerney during the Valentine season, or whether his actions and words were meant to make his classmate uncomfortable, we cannot really know. But the brute facts remain.  King is dead. McInerney, who life has been forever changed by this murder, is still alive.

The case will be watched closely by legal experts and LGBTQ youth advocates throughout the United States. If the prosecution succeeds in making the 1st degree murder charge stick, McInerney could serve time in prison until his fifties. If the defense succeeds in minimizing the murder of Larry King, it will be because of a likely combination of delay, genuine reluctance to convict because of the youth of the defendant, and a well-orchestrated defamation of a slain little person with a big gender variant profile, as the Los Angeles Times is already reporting from attorney arguments on the first day of this landmark trial. Unfinished Lives Blog will follow the events of this courtroom drama closely.

July 6, 2011 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Blame the victim, Bullying in schools, California, Character assassination, death threats, gay bashing, gay panic defense, gay teens, gender identity/expression, Gender Variant Youth, GLBTQ, gun violence, harassment, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, LGBTQ, Media Issues, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, School and church shootings, Social Justice Advocacy, trans-panic defense, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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