Hawkins was arrested for the crime by Mobile Police and charged with second-degree assault on Sunday while his victim was still recovering from emergency surgery at the University of South Alabama Medical Center. Godwin commented on the charges against her sister’s assailant to the press, saying, “That charge shouldn’t be there. He should’ve been charged with attempted murder.” As News 5 reports, other members of Mallory’s family are also calling for stiffer charges to be leveled against Hawkins, who had a previous altercation with the victim. In addition to a charge of murder, the Owens family contends that Hawkins, who loudly disapproved of his sister’s relationship with a lesbian, committed a hate crime during the attack and is now a free man after being bonded out of custody the same day he was arrested.
Mallory, who is to be released from the hospital on Monday, will likely need reconstructive surgery to repair the extensive damage to her face and skull, expensive procedures which the family cannot pay for by themselves. Local and Facebook efforts to raise money to defray her medical costs are underway. An account has been opened in her name at Regions Bank, and donations may be made to any branch worldwide. Justice Today-For Mallory, a Facebook group established by Pensacola, Florida motel owner Sonia Mason, features up to date posts on Mallory’s continuing struggle to heal. The story of the brutal hate crime assault against Mallory is going viral around the World Wide Web.
Young Hawkins was already well known to local law enforcement authorities, according to AL.com. His father, Travis Monroe Hawkins Sr., 40-years-of-age, was arrested and charged with shooting Travis Jr. in the chest during an altercation in January 2011. Avery Godwin says Travis Jr. is intent on further violence against her sister. Godwin is quoted in “The Time of My Life” blog as alleging that young Hawkins called to threaten Godwin since the Thanksgiving assault, and to put the family on notice “that he would finish what he started last night [the night after the attack] with Mallory.”
As of this writing, law enforcement authorities are remaining largely mum about the case, saying only that they believe the attack took place quickly, during a span of only a few seconds total, and consisted of three blows. If that is the case, they are three of the most devastating blows, causing the most physical damage, that the Unfinished Lives Project Team has ever seen.
Dallas, Texas – Queer tolerance is original on these American shores. So, how do we honor our queer ancestors, and call upon them to aid our struggle for liberty here and now? That is what I thought last night, as my partner and I watched Turner Classic Movies re-run of the mini-series, Son of the Morning Star. First Nations people, also known as Native Americans, not only allowed gender variance and same-sex attraction, but they celebrated it–a tradition that offended the puritanical sensibilities of the first European settlers (our Pilgrim forefathers) in New England and Virginia.
As the NorthEast Two-Spirit Society tells us, of the approximately 400 First Nations tribes in North America at the time of the Pilgrims’ landing at Plymouth, no fewer than 155 of these indigenous Nations had traditions embracing Two-Spirit people as well as people whose gender variance blended male and female roles and characteristics. Two-Spirit people acted as role models of harmony and balance, living examples of the way the Great Spirit blessed all manifestations of gender. Two-Spirits were often honored as visionaries for the people, translators of customs and traditions between men and women, and the guardians of children, making sure children of the Nation were being reared humanely and well. NE2SS says “When a family was not properly raising their children, the Two Spirit person would intervene and assume the responsibly as the primary caretaker. Sometimes, families would ask the Two Spirit person for help rearing their children. This unique role of social worker was specific to Two Spirit people, for they had an excess of material wealth as a result of the gifts they received.” Among the Lakota (Sioux) people, prior to going out to war, a great dance was held with Two-Spirit people in the center of the hoop, to show the honor in which they were held by the people.
The religious mediation performed by Two-Spirits keep the the spiritual health of the people strong. They were communicators between the seen world and the unseen world, bringing the blessings of the Great Spirit to the Nation in a variety of practical ways. Among the Navajo people, Two-Spirits were great artists, philosophers, and healers, the Renaissance people of the Nation.
But Europeans reacted to Two-Spirit and gender variant traditions among the First Nations with hostility and physical violence, condemning them for being “sodomites.” As drawings and paintings of the 16th and 17th Century pogroms against queer life among the Native Nations show, the colonizers exterminated Two-Spirits and banned dances and ceremonies honoring them whenever possible. A notorious example is the 1594 sketch of Balboa’s troops setting their dogs on Panamanian Two-Spirits, tearing them to pieces. David Stannard in American Holocaust records English horrors against the Pequots that followed the Spanish example: “blood-Hounds to draw after them, and Mastives to seize them.”
Many native people eventually succumbed to the colonizers’ pressure, and forgot the old ways of their ancestors. Many converted to the strict sexual and gender binary of Western Christianity. The legacy of this cultural amnesia is especially grim among First Nations people today who continue to discriminate against the gender variant among them on the Reservation. As the intolerance of the Navajo council leadership toward same-sex marriage recently demonstrated, the Two-Spirit traditions of the ancestors is on shaky ground. The hate crime murder of Two-Spirit teenager, F.C. Martinez Jr. in Cortes, Colorado is the direct result of anti-queer hostility aggravated by conservative Christian prejudices.
The good news is that queer life among our First Nations ancestors is regaining respect. Elders of the people, and activists in the native LGBTQ community are reviving the knowledge of these practices. As NE2SS reports, “In some nations that have revived this tradition, or brought it once again into the light, Two Spirit people are again fulfilling some of the roles and regaining the honor and respect of their communities.”
This Thanksgiving, as we move beyond and behind the mythology of the Pilgrims and Indians, it is important for us to remember that queer life was held in honor for thousands of years before the first European set foot on these shore. Queer life in North America is original; hostility and religious intolerance towards gender variance are unwanted, illegal aliens.
Ortmann, who became homeless a couple of months ago, attempted to find shelter in charity housing, but, as he learned, there are very few options for homeless men in Murfreesboro. After revealing his sexual orientation to other men living in Tent City this past weekend, Ortmann says he was ambushed, beaten, and left unconscious with an eye swollen shut, and his whole body racked with pain. “It was a big crowd, and all I remembered really is being hit once or twice and being knocked out cold,” Ortmann said to WSMV.
As The New Civil Rights Movement reports, Ortmann is crystal clear on the reason for the brutal assault. “I was beat up because I was gay,” he said. “It’s considered a hate crime. It’s against the law to put your hands on someone to begin with.” Now, he sleeps fitfully, expecting another attack at any time. Ortmann is considering moving to Nashville for his own safety, but his prospects are bleak there, too. “It makes it 10 times harder when you’re gay and homeless at the same time,” he explained to WSMV.
Local authorities say that the hate crime aspect of this case is important. Sgt. Kyle Evans, Murfreesboro police spokesman, told reporters for WSMV, “The reporting officer indicated the bias motivation for the attack was anti-homosexual. If that is indeed the case, not only could they be facing these assault charges; they could be facing more serious charges.”
Meanwhile, Ortmann is recovering from both physical and psychic wounds in an environment where he fears for his life. “It’s bad enough where I have to keep watch, keep an eye over my shoulder the entire time,” he said. “It’s pretty bad right now to the point that I don’t sleep that many hours now.”