Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Nebraska Straight Hero Stands Up for Gay Friends and Takes a Beating

Ryan Langenegger, straight friend who took a beating standing up for gay friends in Omaha.

Ryan Langenegger, straight friend who took a beating standing up for gay friends in Omaha.

Omaha, Nebraska – A straight friend of two gays stepped up to defend them from harassment by three belligerent men, and received a thrashing for it.  Refusing to retaliate, Ryan Langenegger stood his ground, battered and bloody, and asked his assailants the one question all fearful, homophobic people should have to answer:  “Why?”

KMTV Action News 3 reports that Langenegger, who self-identifies as heterosexual, and his out gay friends, Josh Foo and Jacob Gellinger, had dropped into Omaha’s popular Old Market late Saturday night to grab a bite to eat at PepperJax Grill when the three alleged homophobes approached their table.  Gellinger who was wearing a dress that evening was the initial target of the most vocal of the men, who called him “disgusting” and the others “faggots.”  Attempting to avoid a confrontation, Gellinger, Foo, and Langenegger left the grill, but their three harassers followed them outside and intensified their name-calling.  According to Huffington Post, Langenegger stepped between the belligerents and his friends, saying that they should just leave the gay men alone.  One of the verbal assailants then punched Langenegger so hard it chipped two of his teeth, deeply gashed his brow between his eyes, and left his face a bloody wreck.

Josh Foo wrote up his own account of what happened on his Facebook page, expressing appreciation for the courage of his straight friend.  Referring to a photo of Langenegger taken soon after the assault, Foo posted: “This photo was taken soon after Ryan stood up for my friend and I after being called ‘faggots’,’disgusting’, etc. by a group of men at a restaurant who then followed us outside. We did not provoke this in anyway and also did not retaliate after the assault. Ryan, after being hit, paused and looked at the men and asked ‘Why’? which was the question we were all wondering since we did not do anything wrong besides be ourselves. What Ryan did meant a lot to me and I thank him for standing up for his friends and accepting them for who they are in everyway. He’s a great friend. The world needs more people like him.”  

In an interview with KMTV 3, Langenegger called the entire incident “sad, very sad,” going on the say that he sees this sort of harassment against gay people all the time in Omaha.  Asked if he thought standing up for his friends was worth the beating he took, Langenegger said “yes!” with no hesitation, adding “It just makes no sense this day and age and in Omaha, for all of this stuff to still be happening and out in the streets.”  He hopes that the news of this unprovoked attack will serve as a wake-up call to the LGBTQ community.

Meanwhile, authorities are seeking leads in the case.  In the face of unreasoning hatred, Ryan Langenegger’s one-word question demands an answer on behalf of us all:  “Why?”  May Mr. Langenegger’s tribe increase everywhere, until homophobia, heterosexism, and transphobia have vanished from among us.

October 30, 2013 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Asian Americans, Beatings and battery, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, harassment, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, Nebraska, Slurs and epithets, transgender persons, transphobia, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Nebraska Straight Hero Stands Up for Gay Friends and Takes a Beating

Breaking News: Anti-Gay Hate Crimes Book Published in South Korea

Who Trampled the Rainbow Flag book cover, Alma Books, 2013.

Who Trampled the Rainbow Flag book cover, Alma Books, 2013.

Seoul, South Korea – An American scholar’s award winning book on anti-gay hate crimes will hit the shelves throughout South Korea on Friday, October 18, the first such book of its kind in the Korean language.  Alma Books is publishing Who Trampled The Rainbow Flag?: Remembering the Death of Victims of Hate Crime Against the Sexual Minority, the Korean translation of Dr. Stephen Sprinkle’s groundbreaking anthology of hate crimes murder victim stories, Unfinished Lives: Remembering LGBTQ Hate Crimes Murder Victims (Resource Publications, 2011).

Who Trampled the Rainbow Flag? will boost the creation of a whole new discourse on crimes against the sexual minority, heretofore a taboo subject in the Republic of Korea.  At the urging of Brite Divinity School’s Dr. Namsoon Kang, Professor of World Christianity and Religions, Munhakdongne accepted the challenge to publish a book many other Korean publishers thought was interesting enough, but “too risky.”  A translator was secured in Berkeley, California to take on the project, after negotiations between the American and Korean publishers.

Homosexuality is still considered to be a western “disease” by the majority of South Koreans, whose values are dually shaped by Confucian ideals of patriarchy and family, and by Christian heterosexism which exhibits strongly conservative aspects of the missionary efforts that established the churches on the Korean Peninsula over a hundred years ago. In the main, homosexuality is not spoken of in Korea, though a significant shift towards the beginnings of tolerance has taken place there in recent years.  According to the June 2013 Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Survey on homosexuality showed that South Korea, while still disapproving of sexual minorities, has shown the largest shift of public opinion towards tolerance of any nation in the world.  Korean attitudes moved from barely 18% who believed in 2007 that homosexuality should be accepted, to 39% in 2013–a shift of 21 per cent in six years.  

L to R: Dr. Namsoon Kang, Kim Jho Kwang-soo, Dr. Stephen Sprinkle, Kim Seung-hwan.

L to R: Dr. Namsoon Kang, Kim Jho Kwang-soo, Dr. Stephen Sprinkle, Kim Seung-hwan.

Sprinkle’s book, which won the 2012 Silver Medal for Gay/Lesbian Non-Fiction at the IPPY Awards in New York City, was chosen for Korean publication because of the way it puts a human face on the oppression of LGBTQ people.  The endorsement by famed gay Korean film director, writer, and producer, Kim Jho Kwang-soo (Peter Kim), gave the book a major boost.  Kim is one of the few openly gay celebrities in South Korea, and, along with his spouse, Kim Seung-hwan (David Kim), are the prime movers in the increasingly popular Seoul LGBT Film Festival.  Author Stephen Sprinkle is currently in Korea networking, speaking in churches and book gatherings in support of the launch of Who Trampled the Rainbow Flag? on Thursday, October 17 at Libro Bookstore at Hong Ik University in Seoul, where Kim Jho Kwang-soo will appear for a joint book signing.

During his tour of South Korea with Dr. Namsoon Kang, Sprinkle has been interviewed about his book by NewsNJoy, the major Christian news outlet on the Peninsula, has spoken at Open Doors Community Church, Chungdong First Methodist Church (the first Protestant church founded in Korea), and at Sumdol Presbyterian Church in Seoul.  The book has received the support of progressive church leaders such as Rev. Daniel Payne of Open Doors Community, Dr. Se-Hyoung Lee of Chungdong First Methodist, renowned Minjung Theologian Rev. Jin Ho Kim, and one of the few female pastors in Korea, sexual minorities advocate Rev. Borah Lim of Sumdol Church.

The odds facing LGBTQ people in South Korea are daunting, but books like Dr. Sprinkle’s human take on how hatred and religiously motivated bigotry destroy lives and motivate self-loathing, murder, and suicide in so many members of the sexual minority bear the potential to start a new dialogue on tolerance there.  As Dr. Sprinkle said, “We are not naîve about the future for gays and lesbians, bisexual and transgender Koreans.  But the signs of a thaw in opinions is unmistakable everywhere I go in Korea.  Perhaps Who Trampled the Rainbow Flag? can speed the liberation of queer folk here–as a matter of fact,” Sprinkle went on to say, “that very process has already begun.”

October 16, 2013 Posted by | Alma Books Korea, Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Book Tour, Chungdong First Methodist Church Korea, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, hate crimes prevention, Heterosexism and homophobia, Kim Jho Kwang-soo, LGBTQ, Munhakdongne Publishing Group, Open Doors Community Church Korea, Social Justice Advocacy, South Korea, Sumdol Presbyterian Church Korea, Unfinished Lives Book, Unfinished Lives Book Signings, Who Trampled the Rainbow Flag? - Book | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Breaking News: Anti-Gay Hate Crimes Book Published in South Korea

Matthew Shepard Fatally Attacked 15 Years Ago Today

Matthew Wayne Shepard (1976-1998), victim of anti-gay hate crime murder.

Matthew Wayne Shepard (1976-1998), victim of anti-gay hate crime murder.

Laramie, Wyoming – Fifteen years ago today, Matthew Wayne Shepard took his fatal ride with two young men from the Fireside Lounge in Laramie, and suffered the savage attack that changed the world–for LGBTQ people, for sure, since the issue of LGBTQ hate crimes murder would never be seen in the same way again–but most of all for his family, who have been embroiled in a struggle over the story of their elder son’s life and death.  From the very beginning, powerful people saw Matt’s story as something they HAD to control.  Anti-gay forces have consistently deployed journalists with an agenda: remove “hate crime” from the Matt Shepard story.  Today’s popular revision of the motives for Matt’s murder is making sensational news, but it is actually part of a right wing cottage industry seeking to rewrite a history all the major law enforcement investigators are agreed about–Matthew Shepard was murdered because he was gay.

In 2011, Dr. Stephen Sprinkle, who visited Laramie personally to investigate the claims for himself, wrote a chapter about the determined effort to rewrite Matthew Shepard’s story, and excise the issue of anti-gay hate crime from it.  Entitled “The Second Death of Matthew Shepard,” Sprinkle details how revisionists during the trial of Aaron McKinney, and later in the infamous creation of the muckraking 20/20 “special” (in which current revisionist Stephen Jimenez played a significant role as a re-writer), continue to attempt an undercut of the most effectively reported anti-gay hate crime murder in history.

Responding to this latest wave of revisionism seeking to warp the story of Matt’s death, the Matthew Shepard Foundation issued this rebuttal, reported in the New York Daily News.  We at Unfinished Lives Blog could not agree more:  “Attempts now to rewrite the story of this hate crime appear to be based on untrustworthy sources, factual errors, rumors and innuendo rather than the actual evidence gathered by law enforcement and presented in a court of law.”  ~ Matthew Shepard Foundation statement

As a tribute to Matthew Shepard and his courageous family, Judy and Dennis, his parents, and Logan, his brother, Unfinishedlivesblog.com shares this excerpt setting up the argument of Sprinkle’s thesis: that nothing can change the exhaustively investigated findings of the case.  Matt Shepard died because of unreasoning hatred, heterosexism and homophobia.  The full chapter can be read in Sprinkle’s award winning book, Unfinished Lives: Reviving the Memories of LGBTQ Hate Crimes Victims (Resource Publications, 2011).

The excerpt:

Murdering Matt’s Story

 “Revisionists are getting away with murder, working to change the subject of Matthew Shepard and alter the impact of his story for LGBT Americans.  It is not just that they are trying to shift the conversation to something more palatable to the cheerful, “Good Morning, America” attitude so prevalent in this country.  Another sort of murder is afoot.  The revisionists are working to change how Matt is remembered—to revise his story into the image and likeness of what queer folk are to them: people of bad character, the sort of anti-saints whom Judy Shepard suggested face suspicion and revulsion.   In science, if the epitome of a whole species is found to exist in a particular specimen, then that individual becomes the “holotype” for all that follow it.  All other specimens are compared to the original that set the standard.  Weaken the holotype, distort it, and you inevitably revise the meaning of everything else in its class. 

Sprinkle Unfinished Lives book cover_150dpi“The public outcry at Matt’s cold-blooded killing meant the hate crime that cut his young life short became the holotype in the American psyche for all instances of oppression against people in the sexual minority.   It also sent a chill into the bones of the religio-political Right Wing.  Power to enact protection statutes for LGBT people coalesced around Matt’s death so swiftly that the Wingers feared anti-LGBT hate crime legislation might actually become law.   Their strategy was to kill the story, or failing that, change the narrative.   Cut the power of moral outrage out from under Matt’s murder, they reasoned, and they would blunt the mounting public sentiment for an end to anti-LGBT oppression. 

“Since Matt’s story looms larger than any other account of anti-LGBT hate murder, attempts to discredit Matt and lessen the moral impact of his death are archetypal, as well.  The first attempt to kill the story and change the subject was made public during the trials of Henderson and McKinney.  With the death penalty staring down at them, they swore they had never intended to kill Matt—just rob him.  Henderson and McKinney and their attorneys entered the primal homophobic defense ploy into the public record: Matt was actually responsible for his own murder.  He hit on them in the pickup truck, making sexual advances.  His abductors panicked, assaulted him without mercy, got on with their thefts, including his wallet, credit card and shoes, drove him for miles and tied him up in the remote Sherman Hills area east of Laramie, leaving him to die in near-freezing temperatures—wouldn’t anybody, in their situation?

“As absurd as it sounds, the ‘gay panic’ defense is a homophobic classic, and as the Matthew Shepard case shows, it can rise to dizzying heights of absurdity.  In order for it to work, either in a court of law or in the court of public opinion, the gay panic defense must feed off of the irrational fear of homosexual latency, especially in males.  Its fabricators bet that men are so terrified and insecure about their masculinity that making a charge of sexual aggression against a Gay hate crime victim will infect the prosecution’s account of the facts just enough to skew a verdict.  It puts the victim on trial instead of the perpetrators.”

End of excerpt

Rest in peace, Matt. Your story does not belong to the revisionists.  We who believe in Justice cannot rest…we who believe in Justice cannot rest until it comes.

October 7, 2013 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, Matthew Shepard, Matthew Shepard Foundation, Stephen Jimenez, Unfinished Lives Book, Unfinished Lives Project, Unfinishedlivesblog.com, Wyoming | , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Matthew Shepard Fatally Attacked 15 Years Ago Today

Gay Hate Crimes Blog Breaks the Half-Million Visitor Barrier: Unfinished Lives Blog Makes History

Rainbow spanglesDallas, Texas- Unfinishedlivesblog.com, a cyber site of public discourse on anti-LGBTQ hate crimes and their victims, broke through the 500,000 visits barrier on October 3.  Begun by a theologian and amateur blogger, the website has developed a world-wide readership and a strong following in the United States.  Dr. Stephen V. Sprinkle, the Founder and Director of the Unfinished Lives Project, hailed the moment as a demonstration of what a few dedicated people can do to shift the public conversation on LGBTQ hate crimes.  “It is humbling to realize how many people read and comment on a project that began as a labor of love,” Dr. Sprinkle said.  “We on the Unfinished Lives Project Team are deeply gratified by the loyalty of our readership.”

Originally intended to support the publication of Dr. Sprinkle’s award-winning book, Unfinished Lives: Reviving the Memories of LGBTQ Hate Crimes Victims (Resource Publications, 2011), Unfinishedlivesblog.com grew far beyond its initial purpose.  Covering the stories of hate crime murder victims, acts of violence against the queer community, and items of political, theological and cultural interest affecting the LGBTQ community, the blog has logged over 580 stories and posts since its inception in June 2008. Ryan Valentine, Deputy Director of the Texas Freedom Network and an early endorser of the blog, voiced his continuing appreciation of the ongoing work of the website and the Unfinished Lives Project:

“I am writing to commend – in the highest possible terms – Dr. Stephen Sprinkle and his Unfinished Lives project. My support springs from the conviction that his work calling attention to the “slow-rolling holocaust” of LGBT hate crimes in this country has a particular urgency in the struggle for civil rights in contemporary America. As society and the media turn a blind eye, someone must tell these stories.”  

In response to a post criticizing anti-gay hazing in colleges and universities, an anonymous commentator thanked the Unfinished Lives Project for aiding a social advocacy group in their justice work:  “We are a group of volunteers and starting a new scheme in our community. Your site provided us with valuable information to work on. You’ve performed a formidable activity and our entire group will probably be grateful to you.”  

Ryan Keith Skipper

Ryan Keith Skipper

Perhaps most moving have been the messages of support for the work of this site from the parents and loved ones of hate crimes victims.  In response to a memorial post for Ryan Keith Skipper (1981 – 2007), a gay man brutally murdered in Polk County, Florida, his stepfather, Lynn Mulder, posted this note: “Ryan had overcome many obstacles in his life and reconciled many conflicts that our society placed in his path. He was comfortable with who he was and as his parents we were proud of that accomplishment. Ryan has not been forgotten and we still love him. Thank you all for remembering and caring, especially on his birthday.”  Lynn and Pat Mulder have become two of the most passionate and effective advocates for LGBTQ youth in America.

“I know that the work of Unfinished Lives Blog is far from over,” Sprinkle said.  “The numbers of LGBTQ hate crimes murders have reached historic highs every year since 2009.  An epidemic of deadly violence is claiming the lives of transgender youth, especially m to f trans youth of color, throughout the United States.  Bullying in schools has led to untold numbers of desperate acts on the part of LGBTQ school-aged youth, as well.  And the recent alarming uptick in anti-gay acts of violence in New York City may be pointing to an ominous trend that will spread throughout the nation.”  After a pause to collect himself, Sprinkle said, “We cannot suspend, even for a moment, our efforts for full justice and equality for queer folk everywhere.  Lives depend on it.”  

So, for Sprinkle and the volunteer Unfinished Lives Project Team, a half-million visitors to this labor-of-love site is a hallmark of a work for Justice-sake that cannot rest–but along the way, the Team says a hearty “Thank You!” to every reader of this blogsite, now and in the days and years to come!

October 3, 2013 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, GLBTQ, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, hate crimes prevention, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, LGBTQ Community, Social Justice Advocacy, Texas, transgender persons, transphobia, Unfinished Lives Book, Unfinished Lives Project, Unfinishedlivesblog.com | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Savage Anti-Gay Attack Targets Straight Man in Brooklyn

David Jimenez, a non-gay victim of anti-gay hate, was brutally beaten on September 25 while walking his dogs (Brooklyn Paper image - Stefano Giovannini).

David Jimenez, a non-gay victim of anti-gay hate, was brutally beaten on September 25 while walking his dogs (Brooklyn Paper image – Stefano Giovannini).

Brooklyn, New York – A straight resident of the Williamsburg section of greater New York City was viciously beaten by a man yelling homophobic slurs, adding to the alarming number of hate crime attacks in the Big Apple.  David Jimenez, 40, who identifies as a heterosexual man, told reporters from the Brooklyn Paper that the assault seemed to come out of nowhere as he walked his two Boston Terriers back to his apartment at about 11:30 p.m. on September 25.  Jimenez says he had just escorted a group of his friends to a cab.  As he passed a group of men sitting on a stoop on South Third Street between Bedford Avenue and Berry Street, he said he heard slurs being hurled at him, which he tried to ignore as he continued down the street toward his home. The next thing he knew, a brutal punch struck him in the face out of nowhere.  “Someone started screaming, ‘Hey you, faggot,” said Jimenez. “I turned around and gave him a look like, ‘What the hell?’ and the next thing I know the guy starts punching me in the face.”

Jimenez could not successfully defend himself as he struggled to hold onto the leashes of his dogs as blows rained down on him.  The assailant, who remains unnamed as of this report except for his being a 35-year-old man, broke his victim’s nose in four places, bruised his jaw. blacked both his eyes, and shattered the bones in one of his eye sockets.  The attack was bloody, leaving copious stains of blood on the sidewalk that remained there for days after the crime.  Though Jimenez is a straight man, NY1 reports that authorities are now investigating the attack as a bias-motivated hate crime.  A witness to the crime called police who found the attacker still at the scene soaked in his victim’s blood.  Officers arrested the assailant, and charged him initially with assault and possession of a controlled substance, and resisting arrest.  Jimenez, now recuperating at home in preparation for reconstructive surgery to his face, says the wounds he suffered go far beyond the physical ones on his body:  “My head, it cannot comprehend how this is the case, where you literally catch someone with blood in their hands, because when he was taken in, his fist was full of blood, and he’s out here walking while I’m in here locked in my house because I’m afraid of going outside.”  

As EDGE On The Net reports, the hate crime attack on Jimenez adds an alarming new dimension to the rising epidemic of violence against LGBT New Yorkers in recent months, since even heterosexual people who are merely mistaken for being gay are now being targeted.  During the summer, two alleged anti-gay hate crimes were investigated in Williamsburg by police, and in Manhattan, a gay man was fatally shot to death in the Chelsea/Greenwich Village area of the city, one of the queer-friendliest sections of the Big Apple, and the cradle of the modern LGBTQ Rights Movement.  Jimenez told CBS 2 New York that coping with the crime against him will be a longtime struggle.  “That’s the most difficult part — waking up every morning and trying to live my life like normal,” he said.

October 3, 2013 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, Brooklyn, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Mistaken as LGBT, New York, New York City, New York Police Department (NYPD), Slurs and epithets | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


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