Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Young Alabama Lesbian Savagely Attacked, Allegedly By Girlfriend’s Teenage Brother

Mallory Owens was beaten almost beyond recognition by her girlfriend’s teen brother on Thanksgiving Day [Facebook images].

Mobile, Alabama – A 23-year-old lesbian was brutally attacked by the brother of her lover on Thanksgiving Day.  According to several reports, Mallory Godwin Owens suffered smashed bones, multiple fractures of the skull, and her face was beaten virtually beyond recognition by 18-year-old Travis Monroe Hawkins Jr.  The victim, girlfriends with Travis’s sister Ally for over year according to family friends, was blindsided by her assailant at the family’s Thanksgiving dinner just as she was leaving the home.  Avery Godwin, Mallory’s sister, told AL.com that Travis hit her sister so hard that she suffered brain bleeding, and needed to have metal plates surgically implanted beneath her eyes to support her facial bones.

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.

November 26, 2012 Posted by | Alabama, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Lesbian women, LGBTQ | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Young Alabama Lesbian Savagely Attacked, Allegedly By Girlfriend’s Teenage Brother

Gay Hate Crimes Blog Reaches New Milestone! 400k!

Dallas, Texas – Unfinished Lives Blog, a cyber effort to change the conversation about anti-LGBTQ hate crimes, reached at significant milestone at approximately Noon Central Time: 400,000 site visits.  The Unfinished Lives Project Team, past and present, thank our readership most sincerely, and move ahead with this project in the knowledge that breaking the silence and remembering the dead are acts of justice supported by so many good people.

The Unfinished Lives Project was launched in response to the over 13,000 women, men, youth, and GenderQueer people in the United States who have lost their lives so outrageously since the early 1980s to heterosexism, homophobia, and the culture of violence so prevalent in this country. As the graphic from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP)  and GLAAD shows, the crisis of hate crime violence against queer folk is not abating—it is growing annually, at an alarming rate. Bias-motivated hate crime prevention was never more important than now.  We mourn the outrageous losses these data represent, and cry out against the injustices that instigate them.

Transgender people, especially transgender youth of color, and gay men are the main targets of unreasoning hatred today.  Our suspicion is that the number of lesbians killed for their sexual orientation is alarmingly high, as well, masked in our culture by misogynistic violence that takes the lives of so many women in this country everyday.  While the number of documented attacks against lesbians is growing, we believe that the statistics we have on the murder of lesbians are the only tip of the iceberg.

This blog was also created to support the publication of Dr. Stephen Sprinkle’s groundbreaking book, Unfinished Lives: Reviving the Memories of LGBTQ Hate Crimes Victims (Resource Publications, 2011).  The Unfinished Lives Project Team is glad that many of our readers have also discovered the book, authored by our Founder and Project Director.  Book signing and promotion events have carried the message of hate crimes prevention, LGBTQ equality, and hope throughout Texas, and to Washington, D.C., Las Vegas, Toledo, South Florida, Birmingham, Chicago, New York City, St. Louis, and six cities in North Carolina. Plans are in the works for a book tour event in Indiana. Filming has begun for a made-for-cable series based on the stories of the 14 victims told in the book.  This past June, Dr. Sprinkle received the 2011 Silver Medal for Gay-Lesbian Non-Fiction from the Independent Book Publishers Awards (the IPPYs).  A translation of Unfinished Lives is in process in the Korean language, furthering the reach of this message of justice and hope on an international stage. When released in Korea later this year, Unfinished Lives will be only the second book on homosexuality to be published in South Korea.

Thank you for your continuing interest and support.  400.000 visitors is a sign of health, hope, and sacred trust. This work was and remains to be a voluntary labor of love.  We who believe in Justice cannot rest.  We who believe in Justice cannot rest until it comes!

November 24, 2012 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, GLBTQ, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, hate crimes prevention, Heterosexism and homophobia, Lesbian women, LGBT teen suicide prevention, LGBTQ, Social Justice Advocacy, South Korea, Texas, transgender persons, transphobia, Unfinished Lives Book, Unfinished Lives Book Signings, women | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Honoring Queer Heritage: A Thanksgiving Season Special Comment

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.

Balboa’s dogs set on Panamanian “sodomites,” DeBry 1594.

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.

November 21, 2012 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, First Nations, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, religious intolerance, Slurs and epithets, Special Comments, Texas, transgender persons, transphobia, Two-Spirit people | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Honoring Queer Heritage: A Thanksgiving Season Special Comment

Transgender Day of Remembrance 2012: Never Forget Our Dead

Dallas, Texas, and around the globe – The 14th Annual International Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) is set for November 20, 2012.  Women, men, youth, and queer folk of every stripe will be gathering throughout the week, and especially on this coming Tuesday evening, to memorialize our Transgender Sisters and Brothers, gender variant people who have not yet identified, and those perceived to be Transgender who have lost their lives to unreasoning hatred since this time last year.

The first TDOR was established to remember the murder of Rita Hester who died on November 28, 1998–a case that has never been solved to this day. The heinous character of hate crimes against gender variant people is compounded by the fact that so many of these homicides remain, like Rita’s, unsolved, with no one brought to justice.

TDOR offers a chance for lament to take place in a world that customarily ignores the plight of gender variant persons, especially youth of color.  The vigil gives LGB and Straight allies a way to stand together in solidarity with Transgender people, and publicly condemn all acts of violence perpetrated against our sisters and brothers. Since the media turn a blind eye towards the killing of Transgender persons, TDOR breaks the silence in a powerful way, drawing attention to this crisis from local communities to the entire global village. Finally, those who had no voice in life are remembered, and vicariously given voice beyond the grave.

Observances will remember over 265 persons who died this year because of their gender identity and gender expression.  A current listing of the dead may be found on the International Transgender Day of Remembrance website.

This Sunday, November 18, Dallas will commemorate TDOR, according to Rev. Dr. Jo Hudson of Cathedral of Hope. As the Dallas Voice reports, The Dallas Transgender Day of Remembrance 2012, “A Candle Light Vigil and Celebration of Lives,” will be from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18 at Cathedral of Hope, 5910 Cedar Springs Road, Dallas. Speakers for the event are Councilwoman Delia Jasso, Carter Brown of Black Transmen Inc., Michelle Stafford of GEAR and youth representative Hanna Walters. Music will be provided by Shelly Torres-West with Paul Allen, Mosaic Song, Terry Thompkins, and the Cathedral Ringers. Doors open at 5 p.m., and refreshments will be available.  

Transgender spokeswoman Michelle Stafford expressed her feelings about the meaning of this year’s memorial to the Voice: “While on the surface this Day of Remembrance is focused on the transgender portion of our community,” she said, “at the heart it is a remembrance of where our community, the LGBT community, was in the past, how it has moved forward, and where it must press forward together to achieve. It is a time of honoring those who have been murdered simply because they were themselves. It is a time of reflecting on what each of us an individual has done to advance our protection under the legal system, our right to access adequate medical care, our freedom to obtain and hold employment without discrimination, the ability to seek housing without prejudice, freedom to dine and shop where we desire without discrimination, and the right to live our lives as the authentic people we know we are.”

November 18, 2012 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Cathedral of Hope, GLBTQ, LGBTQ, Remembrances, Texas, Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), transgender persons, transphobia, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Transgender Day of Remembrance 2012: Never Forget Our Dead

Gay Homeless Man Attacked at Tennessee Tent City

Glenn Ortmann, beaten unconscious by a mob of fellow homeless men after revealing his sexual orientation [ WSMV image].

Murfreesboro, Tennessee – A mob of homeless men attacked and beat a fellow homeless man unconscious because he is gay.  The victim, Glen Ortmann, has given the police names of suspects in his recent hate crime attack, and now lives in fear in “Tent City,” a homeless camp near CSX railroad tracks–the only place in Murfreesboro Ortmann says he can live because of his homelessness.  WSMV, the NBC affiliate, reports that police are investigating the case to corroborate the anti-gay hate crime status of the assault.

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.”

November 17, 2012 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, gay bashing, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, LGBTQ, Tennessee, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments


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