Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Ryan Keith Skipper Would Be Thirty-two Today

Damien Skipper and his daughter Ryan at the grave site of Ryan Keith Skipper (photo courtesy of the family).

Damien Skipper and his daughter Ryan at the grave site of Ryan Keith Skipper (photo courtesy of the family).

Wahneta, Florida –  Had Ryan Keith Skipper not been murdered in one of the most heinous anti-gay hate crimes in the history of Florida, he would be celebrating his 32nd birthday today.  Losses like his change the world.  On March 14, 2007, two ne’er do wells, Joseph “Smiley” Beardon, and William “Bill-Bill” Brown slit his throat, stabbed him 20 times, dumped his body on a dark, rural road, stole and tried to fence his new car, and then unable to get any money for it, botched an attempt to burn up the vehicle on a boat ramp at Lake Pansy.  They said their motive was to rid the world of “another faggot.”

Ryan was deeply loved by his mom, Pat, stepdad, Lynn, older brother, Damien, and a whole host of friends.  He also left a brokenhearted lover and two distraught housemates who loved him like a brother.  Lies on the part of the killers, and compound falsehoods by the Sheriff of Polk County kept Ryan’s murder from reaching the world as it should have.  Other LGBTQ lives were lost because Ryan’s full story was suppressed by rumor, unsubstantiated allegations about his character, and crass, anti-gay politics.  His parents took up the cause of justice for their son, and have become two of the most effective advocates for LGBTQ equality and anti-bullying in America. Beardon and Brown were separately convicted, and are now serving life in prison.  Nothing takes the sting of loss away, but many good people have stepped into the breach to ensure that Ryan will never be forgotten, and that his death will not be in vain.  Lesbian Filmmakers Vicki Nantz and Mary Meeks produced and filmed a 72-minute documentary about Skipper’s murder entitled Accessory to Murder: Our Culture’s Complicity in the Death of Ryan Skipper, that premiered in January 2008.  In 2011, Ryan’s story was published in a book dedicated to keeping the memories of LGBTQ Hate Crimes Murder Victims alive and before the public, entitled Unfinished Lives: Reviving the Memories of LGBTQ Hate Crimes Victims (Resource Publications).  The Gay American Heroes Foundation has memorialized Ryan, as well, and seeks to include him in a national monument to the victims of LGBTQ Hate Crimes.

But by far the most wonderful remembrance of Ryan has been done by his older brother Damien and wife, who gave Ryan’s name to their baby girl.  Uncle Ryan now has a living memorial in the person of his thriving, laughing, vital niece, Ryan Skipper.  The story of Ryan Keith Skipper is, like the stories of so many other anti-gay murder victims throughout the nation, a story of life, not death.  Every time little niece Ryan runs and plays, or anyone retells the story of her Uncle Ryan, the intentions of his killers is foiled again. We remember Ryan today, not in sorrow, but in gratitude–and in dedication to the spread of justice and equality for all people, gay, transgender, bisexual, and straight alike.  Rest peacefully, Ryan.  We have not forgotten you!  For we who believe in Justice cannot rest. We who believe in Justice cannot rest until it comes!

April 28, 2013 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Florida, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Remembrances, Slashing attacks, stabbings | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Gay Hate Crimes Victim Ryan Keith Skipper Lives On: A Special Comment

Ryan Keith Skipper (April 28, 1981 - March 14, 2007)

Wahneta, Florida – Today would have been Ryan Keith Skipper’s 31st birthday, had he not died at the hands of two reckless, homophobic men in Central Florida five years ago.  But Ryan lives on in the hearts and minds of his family, his friends, and countless supporters of human rights who commemorate his life and the lives of other hate crimes murder victims around the nation.

Ryan’s murderers are both sentenced to life in prison for their crimes.  William David “Bill-Bill” Brown Jr. and Joseph “Smiley” Bearden killed Ryan on the night of March 14, 2007 in cold blood, stole his car, and vainly attempted to fence it before desperately trying to burn it up in order to destroy evidence of the murder.  The Sheriff of Polk County, Grady Judd, capitalized on Ryan’s murder politically, and crassly blamed Ryan for his own death.  Sheriff Judd, as of this writing, still holds office, though every one of his innuendoes and allegations concerning Ryan have been categorically disproved.

In the five years since Ryan’s untimely death, his parents, Pat and Lynn Mulder, his brother Damien, and his host of friends have gotten on with their lives, dealing with their grief the best they can.  His family has become one of the foremost voices for justice for hate crimes victims in the nation.  A major documentary film, “Accessory to Murder: Our Culture’s Complicity in the Death of Ryan Skipper,” directed by Vicki Nantz, a former news director for Orlando’s WESH-TV, continues to open hearts and minds to the cause of human equality throughout Florida and beyond.  Damien, Ryan’s older brother, has married and moved away from Florida.  He and his wife welcomed a beautiful baby girl, Ryan, into the world this past year, so in an act of life in defiance of death, another Ryan Skipper lives and thrives in her uncle’s memory.

The Unfinished Lives Project was inspired by the life story of Ryan Skipper: his extraordinary capacity for love and friendship, his ability to make people feel appreciated and important, and his unconquerable spirit of life.  His story occupies a chapter in the recent book, Unfinished Lives: Reviving the Memories of LGBTQ Hate Crimes Victims (Resource Publications, 2011), entitled “Keeper of Hearts.”

Every time Ryan is remembered and his story is retold, the intentions of his killers and their accomplices in today’s culture and politics are thwarted.  Ryan is precious in our memory on his birthday.  Our fight for equality and justice continues because Ryan lives on in our hearts.

April 28, 2012 Posted by | Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Blame the victim, Florida, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, Media Issues, Politics, Remembrances, Slashing attacks, Social Justice Advocacy, Special Comments | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Second Alleged Killer of Ryan Keith Skipper on Trial in Florida



William D. "Bill Bill" Brown on trial

Bartow, FL – Entering its third day, the felony murder trial of William D. “Bill Bill” Brown, 23, is underway in the Polk County, Florida Courthouse.  Brown is the second alleged murderer of Ryan Keith Skipper, a 25-year-old gay college student, who died of 19 stab and slash wounds on a desolate road in Wahneta, Florida in March 2007.  The first trial, that is Joseph “Smiley” Bearden, in February of this year ended with his conviction on all counts and a life sentence in state prison.  Ironically, Skipper’s murder is not being tried as a hate crime, though many including his parents, Lynn and Pat Mulder of Auburndale, contend that their son’s assailants chose him because he was a gay man.  The same judge and prosecutor who tried the Bearden case are trying the Brown case, as well.  In a surprise move by the defense on October 26, Brown pleaded guilty to arson (setting fire to Skipper’s car to destroy evidence), and evidence tampering, which could earn him a total of 20 years at sentencing.  He is still on trial for robbery and first degree murder, which could sentence him to life in prison, just like his accomplice.  The Mulders came to Bartow to attend the Brown trial two days after the wedding of Ryan’s older brother, Damien.  Though they were personally invited to attend the October 28 signing of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act by President Obama in Washington, DC, a law they had vigorously lobbied to see enacted, the Mulders declined the invitation in order to be present for the trial in Polk County.  Their son Damien and his wife attended the ceremony at the White House in their stead, and were greeted by President Obama, along with Matthew Shepard’s parents, Judy and Dennis, and William Sean Kennedy’s mother, Elke Kennedy.  In communication with the Unfinished Lives Project, Lynn Mulder said that during the first days of the trial, Cass Casstillo, the prosecuting attorney, presented evidence conclusively linking Brown to the murder, including finger prints, shoe impressions, and testimony from others who heard him admit to “stabbing someone.”   Brown has contended that Skipper, whom he knew was gay, touched his “private parts,” irritating him, but denied that he killed his 25-year-old neighbor, who lived barely two blocks from his trailer home in rural Wahneta.  On Wednesday, the prosecution rested.  The Judge gave the jury the next two days off, telling them according to Mulder that the defense would present a short case with one or no witnesses on Monday, such that closing arguments would probably be offered then, and the case would go to the jury on Tuesday, November 3.  Vicki Nantz, lesbian activist from Orlando, and director/co-producer of the acclaimed Ryan Skipper Documentary, Accessory to Murder: Our Culture’s Complicity in the Death of Ryan Skipper, noted to reporters that had there been a Matthew Shepard Law on the books, Skipper’s murder could have been tried as the anti-gay hate crime it was, instead of burying the true motive of the slaying.  Nantz and others have provided a detailed trial summary day-bay-day with links to media reports at the Ryan Skipper Documentary site.  Speaking to the press, Ryan’s mother, Pat, said she wanted it known that her son “was killed by hate.”  She urged the public to help end such lethal hate, because if it were not ended, hatred would kill others.  His father, Lynn, said that Ryan would have approveof the new law protecting LGBT people from hate crimes.  “He would see the value in that,” Mulder said,”that everybody was protected equally under the law, and he would be very proud that the bill was signed into law.”

Ryan and Damien Skipper

Ryan and his brother, Damien Skipper






October 29, 2009 Posted by | Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Blame the victim, Florida, gay men, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Legislation, Matthew Shepard Act, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Social Justice Advocacy, South Carolina, stabbings, Washington, D.C., Wyoming | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Second Alleged Killer of Ryan Keith Skipper on Trial in Florida

Remembering Ryan Keith Skipper

Ryan Keith Skipper

Ryan Keith Skipper

April 28, 1981 – March 14, 2007

Wahneta, Florida

This is the second anniversary of Ryan’s murder.  In the deep of night, as March 13 bled into March 14, two attackers savaged him as he sat in his car.  The Polk Country Associate Medical Examiner testified that his autopsy revealed 19 stab and slash wounds, probably from two knives.  The killing stroke was a 3.5-inch-deep cut into his neck, severing his jugular. 

 Though nothing can bring Ryan back to his family and friends, Joseph Eli “Smiley” Bearden, now 23, was found guilty on all counts.  He is now serving a life sentence  for Ryan’s murder.  William David “Bill Bill” Brown, Jr., now 22, will stand trial for first degree murder in October of this year. 

Sheriff Grady Judd has not yet apologized for filling the airwaves with misinformation about Ryan’s life, his character, and the events on the night of the murder.  Every allegation he repeated to the press has been disproven.  Judd should have been drummed out of office.  Instead, he was re-elected by the citizens of Polk County this past November.

Ryan’s life is cherished, and his memory is a powerful force for winning equality for LGBT Americans.  The manner of his death is a strong incentive for all people of good conscience to urge Congress and the President to enact the Matthew Shepard Act and the Transgender inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act into law, as well as abolish the military’s infamous Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.

March 15, 2009 Posted by | Florida, gay men, Law and Order, Legislation, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Remembrances, stabbings, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Remembering Ryan Keith Skipper

Joseph Eli Bearden Guilty on all charges for the murder of Ryan Keith Skipper–Life Sentence with No Parole imposed by Polk Country Florida Judge

Bearden reacts to life sentence for 2nd degree murder

Bearden reacts to life sentence for 2nd degree murder

February 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Comments Off on Joseph Eli Bearden Guilty on all charges for the murder of Ryan Keith Skipper–Life Sentence with No Parole imposed by Polk Country Florida Judge

Ryan Skipper’s Killer Sentenced to 2 Life Terms

William "Bill Bill" Brown at sentencing, Ledger photo

Bartow, Florida – Circuit Judge Michael Hunter sentenced William “Bill Bill” Brown, 23, to life without parole for first-degree murder, and gave him a second life sentence for armed robbery with a deadly weapon for his part in the horrific murder of Ryan Keith Skipper in March 2007, according to The Ledger.  The judge also imposed a 15-year sentence for arson, and an additional five years for tampering with evidence.  Eye witnesses in the courtroom say that Brown smiled ruefully as his fingerprints were taken prior to jailing him for the rest of his life.  Ryan Keith Skipper’s stabbed and slashed body was found on a lonely roadside in Wahneta, Florida at approximately 1 a.m. on March 14, 2007.  The Polk County Medical Examiner reported to the court that Skipper had been cut and stabbed a total of 19 times, and died of blood loss at the scene.  Police later discovered Skipper’s powder blue Chevrolet Aveo partially burned at at boat ramp on Lake Pansy.  Brown admitted to investigators that he was in Skipper’s car on the day of the murder, but claimed that he “blacked out” at the time of the attack, and couldn’t remember anything about it.  Brown and Joseph “Smiley” Bearden were arrested and charged with the murder by Polk County Sheriff’s Officers.  Bearden was sentenced to life without parole for his role in Skipper’s murder earlier this year.  Pat Mulder told Ledger reporters that she was relieved that the trial and sentencing were finally over, but that Brown probably will never know the gravity of what he did to her and the family. “He stole my heart when he killed my son,” she said.  The prosecutors in the case contended that the killing was a hate crime because the two men targeted Skipper particularly for his sexual orientation, believing young gay men to be easy marks.  Witnesses during Bearden’s trial testified that the assailants believed they were doing the world a service by ridding the world of another “faggot.”  Though the prosecution never formally charged Brown or Bearden with an anti-gay hate crime, opting instead for a capital murder case and the death penalty, Skipper’s parents urged that the death penalty be waived so that the trials could proceed.  The Mulders and Ryan’s elder brother, Damian, have gone on to become the most persuasive advocates for LGBT equality in Florida, and among the most respected social justice advocates in the nation.

December 2, 2009 Posted by | Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Florida, gay men, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, stabbings | , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Ryan Skipper’s Killer Sentenced to 2 Life Terms

Tampa Bay Gay Publisher Admits Neglecting Ryan Skipper’s Hate Crime Murder “A Big Mistake”

RyanSkipperTampa Bay, FL – Jon Ponder of the blog, Pensito Review, writes that Watermark publisher, Tom Dyer, counts missing the Ryan Skipper hate crime murder story the deepest regret of his publishing career.  Watermark, a gay publication serving Tampa Bay and other metro Florida areas for 15 years, ran no stories on the Skipper case in 2007 even though it happened in nearby Polk County, between Tampa and Orlando.  Pensito Review ran multiple stories from virtually the beginning of the case, staying in close touch with the Mulders, Ryan’s parents, and pressing for the office of Sheriff Grady Judd to come clean on the law enforcement bias against homosexuals that skewed press releases and unsupportable statements about Skipper’s character to the media.  In Tom Dyer’s own words to a reporter from the Daily City, “We should have jumped on the Ryan Skipper story immediately. This young Polk County man’s murder just a few years ago was every bit as gruesome as Matthew Shepard’s, and every bit as telling about the persistence of violent homophobia in our area. There was almost no coverage in the mainstream press, and I let that influence my judgment. Big mistake, and I still regret it.” Skipper, a gay 25-year-old lifelong resident of Polk County, was brutally murdered by men who slashed him to death and dumped his body by the side of a lonely dirt road in rural Wahneta, Florida, just outside of Winter Haven.  If the savagery of the murder were not enough in itself, Sheriff Judd suggested to the media that Skipper was somehow to blame for his own murder, that he was “cruising for sex” on the night of his murder, picked up “rough trade,” and agreed to participate in a drugs-related check forgery scheme with them.  None of these allegations were supported by a shred of fact, but by taking the self-serving lies told by the alleged killers as his only source, Sheriff Judd accomplished two things:  he pleased his right-wing religious base by removing known meth addicts from his jurisdiction (Skipper’s alleged killers), and besmirching the reputation of the victim himself, an openly gay man.  While Joseph “Smiley” Bearden has already been found guilty, and William “Bill Bill” Brown will also in all likelihood, Judd remains unrepentant and unaccountable.  Pensito Review calls Judd’s actions “egregious malpractice,” and makes this trenchant observation, “In the final analysis, Ryan Skipper was assaulted twice — first, fatally by his homophobic killers and then in the media by the homophobic sheriff of Polk County. Bearden has been held accountable, and it’s a dead cinch Brown will be too. But Grady Judd has not been forced to take responsibility for his role in assaulting Ryan’s memory. Unless and until the media holds him responsible for his actions, it’s likely he never will be.” LGBT hate crimes killings are horrible, and Ryan Skipper’s was one of the most disturbing in the recent history of the nation.  Both the Gay American Heroes Foundation and the Unfinished Lives Project have been inspired and outraged by this case, and have moved to expose the way LGBT hate crimes are distorted and underreported.  A first-rate documentary film, Accessory to Murder, produced by Mary Meeks and Vicki Nantz, details the role Judd’s politicized demolition of Skipper’s character robbed his family of comfort, and nearly robbed Florida of justice.  A chapter dedicated to Ryan Skipper, entitled “Keeper of Hearts,” forthcoming in the book by Stephen Sprinkle, Unfinished Lives: Reviving the Memory of LGBT Hate Crimes Murder Victims. Dyer is to be commended for admitting his error.  Too many times LGBT hate crimes are passed over because of distortion and misinformation, and it is refreshing to hear that he will not be making a mistake of this magnitude again.   The editors and staff of Pensito Review demonstrate the significance of blog coverage of news stories dismissed by otherwise reputable publishers.  We at Unfinished Lives applaud them.

August 5, 2009 Posted by | Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Blame the victim, Florida, gay men, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Media Issues, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Social Justice Advocacy, stabbings | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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

Teen Lesbian Couple Remembered in Texas Prayer Vigil

Brite Divinity School Community at prayer for Mollie Olgin and Mary Chapa in Friday’s Prayer Vigil held on the school’s Memorial Garden.

Fort Worth, Texas – Mollie Olgin, 19, and Mary Chapa, 18, were remembered Friday by a Divinity School community, and their families and friends were prayed for in an outdoor Prayer Vigil on the school’s campus. Brite Divinity School gathered in Memorial Garden to pray for the recovery of Mary Chapa who remains in intensive care after being shot in the head, and for God’s blessing upon her girlfriend, Mollie Olgin, who died from her wounds.  The horrifying attack took place on the night of June 9-10 at a Texas State Park in Portland, Texas, on the Gulf Coast.  Police have not identified a suspect in the shootings yet. The motive for the attack remains unknown, and police are downplaying a possible hate crime aspect.  The likelihood that Olgin and Chapa were randomly chosen for the assault, however, is very slim.  Portland Police have suggested that this case bears the hallmarks of a “targeted attack,” though there is no evidence of robbery, either.

Organized by Brite’s Dean, Dr. Joretta Marshall, Dr. Stephen Sprinkle, Director of Field Education, and Mr. Nathan Russell, a Master of Divinity degree student at Brite, the Prayer Vigil was well attended.  In addition to the prayers of the people shared by all present, Dean Marshall read a letter entitled “Pastoral Response and Invitation: June 29, 2012,” which has been sent out by Brite President D. Newell Williams to the Divinity School’s larger network of churches, trustees, alumni, and denominational stake holders.  While the Brite Prayer Vigil is one of as many as 13 vigils for the two young women, the “Pastoral Response” is believed to be the first and only theological appeal in regards to this outrageous and senseless attack.  Expressions of support have been pouring in to the Divinity School for its initiative in carrying out the vigil, among them a word from Lynn Mulder, parent of slain gay son Ryan Keith Skipper who died in an anti-gay hate crime murder in Wahneta, Florida in 2007.  Speaking for many other families and friends of hate crimes victims, Mulder wrote: “To all who attended, you have no idea how healing it will be to these families [of Mollie and Mary].  It has been five years since vigils were held in honor of my son, Ryan Skipper.”  Mulder went on to say, “Seeing these photos helps me still today as we all grieve yet another tragic and senseless loss of life.”

Here in full is the text of the Brite Prayer Vigil appeal read at the service on Friday:

A Pastoral Response and Invitation

June 29, 2012

“We believe in a God whose mercy and justice is without end. In the name of that God, we offer comfort to those who mourn and are outraged over the vicious attacks committed against two young women, Mollie Judith Olgin, 19, and Mary Christine Chapa, 18, last weekend in a Portland, Texas park. This incident follows other acts of violence such as the racist and homophobic hate graffiti in Arlington earlier in June. Such acts perpetrated against women and men in our country because of who they are, who they choose to love, or because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time and someone took offense to their existence, reminds all of us that we live in a world that is dangerous to the physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being of many of us. We invite churches and pastoral leaders to speak out against this kind of injustice and violence, in the name of God.

 Often in our country, the name of God is used in our communities, in our churches, and from our pulpits to condemn or – at the very least – to encourage non-support of those who self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Erroneous biblical interpretation connects with fear in ways that make it difficult for LGBT persons to flourish in our churches and in our communities. Hurtful and harmful rhetoric offered by some within the Christian community contributes to the likelihood of violence and reinforces in the minds of some that silence and closets are the best options for their lives. The result is that faithful members of the LGBT community continue to live in fear in their communities and hesitate to speak out on their own behalf or on behalf of others. Members of TLBG communities often avoid our churches because their souls are damaged by the perpetuation of silence or the messages of intolerance and sometimes hate.

We invite pastoral leaders to:

·         pray for the families, friends, and communities surrounding Mollie and Mary

·         pray for all who embody a gender identity or sexual orientation that invites fear because of the potential for violence done against them

·         pray for the souls of those who committed this act of violence and those who participate and support such violence in our world

·         speak out against violence and draw upon the resources of our faith – biblical, historical, ecclesial, pastoral – in ways that clearly claim God’s desire for those within the bisexual, transgender, gay, and lesbian communities to flourish

·         urge reporters, editors, broadcasters, bloggers, and other members of the news media to report incidents like these fully and fairly, informing the public of the human, social, and moral impact of such deeds of violence and injustice

·         create space for communities to gather in deeper and more meaningful conversation about how to be open and vital spiritual homes for all

Thank you for joining our commitment at Brite Divinity School to foster the life-giving and life-affirming grace of God in our communities. If there is any way that we can support the work in your church or community, please do not hesitate to call upon us.

In the meantime, with prayers for all and with grace sufficient to continue the work of embodying justice in our world in God’s name,

Joretta L. Marshall

Executive Vice President and Dean

Brite Divinity School”

June 30, 2012 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Brite Divinity School, gay teens, GLBTQ, gun violence, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Social Justice Advocacy, Texas, Vigils | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gays Seek Safer Houston in Last “Unfinished Lives” Pride Month Session

Dr. Sprinkle speaks to a full house at Resurrection MCC Houston on "Unfinished Lives" book

Houston, Texas – Strategies for mobilizing the LGBTQ community to act for a safer Houston will be the focus of the concluding “Unfinished Lives” Session at Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church this Friday, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Dr. Stephen Sprinkle, professor at Brite Divinity School and author of Unfinished Lives: Reviving the Memories of LGBTQ Hate Crimes Victims (Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2011), will offer Houstonians effective ways to prevent hate crimes, wrestle with with issue of anti-LGBTQ teen school bullying and suicide, and close ranks with transgender Americans to staunch the alarming number of violent attacks upon then in today’s world.  Attendance and enthusiasm remained strong at the June 10 session on lessons and insights the stories of hare crimes victims teach the wider community.  Dr. Sprinkle lifted up five lessons we stand to learn from LGBTQ people who have died because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.  In brief, these were: 1) confront head on the rising number of violent attacks against the queer community with educational efforts, 2) deal with the amnesia of the LGBTQ community, media, and the general public about queer hate crime murders, 3) begin the long-overdue conversation about transphobia and transgender hate crimes in America, 4) use the language of outrage when speaking about LGBTQ hate crimes, not the language of “tragendy,” and 5) the necessity of dealing with the religious and theological roots of anti-gay and transgender hate violence.  The stories of Ryan Keith Skipper of Wahneta, Florida and Talana Quay Kreeger of Wilmington, North Carolina were highlighted to illustrate Dr. Sprinkle’s lecture. Session Three: Strategies for Mobilization and Activism will continue this no-nonsense approach to the crisis of anti-LGBTQ hate violence in contemporary church and society.  The series is co-sponsored by Resurrection MCC Houston, Cathedral of Hope Houston, and the Transgender Foundation of America.  As always, a light supper is provided and the public is invited at no charge.  Make Pride Month count for more than a parade and a party, and come out to this important final session.

June 15, 2011 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, Anti-Gay Hate Groups, Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Asian Americans, bi-phobia, Bisexual persons, Bullying in schools, Florida, gay bashing, gay men, gay teens, gender identity/expression, Gender Variant Youth, GLBTQ, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, hate crimes prevention, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, Law and Order, Legislation, Lesbian women, LGBT teen suicide prevention, LGBTQ, LGBTQ suicide, Matthew Shepard Act, Media Issues, North Carolina, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Politics, Public Theology, Queer, religious hate speech, religious intolerance, Remembrances, Resurrection MCC Houston, Social Justice Advocacy, Texas, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Gays Seek Safer Houston in Last “Unfinished Lives” Pride Month Session

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