Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Bisexual Man Attacked with Samurai Sword

David Teague III believes anti-bisexual bias motivated the sword attack that left his wrist slashed, tendons cut, and nerves severed in his left arm.

Johnston, Rhode Island – A 24-year-old bisexual man suffered severed tendons and nerves in his left wrist after being slashed with a Japanese katana, a samurai sword. The victim says he believes the attack was motivated by hatred for his sexual orientation.

WJAR-TV News reports that David Teague III was injured during a fight that started outside a home in Johnston early Saturday morning. Though drinking had been involved, Teague says his assailant cut him because of animosity toward his bisexuality.  The attacker allegedly yelled a homophobic slur at Teague as he pressed his attack.  The victim believes that the assault was no accident, and was a hate crime. “The next day I sat there wondering if my sexuality had anything to do with it,” Teague said to News 10. “I just want justice. He used a derogatory word that has to do with being homosexual. I believe he used his anger towards homosexuals to commit this crime against me.”

Investigators agree that there was a homophobic slur used by Teague’s attacker, but they say the slur alone is not enough to warrant a hate crime investigation.  They pledge to pursue the anti-bisexual motive if they uncover more evidence supporting the claim. Boston.com says that a group of men outside the Johnston house were drinking that evening, when a quarrel broke out between Teague and his as-yet-unidentified assailant.  When the two men started fighting, some of the other drinkers got involved, and at some point the assailant, yelling the slur, picked up the sword and slashed Teague’s wrist.   WJAR-TV News took a statement from a woman on Monday who has disputed Teague’s account, blaming Teague for the fight. Johnston Police have charged her with obstruction of justice, believing that she tried to divert investigators’ attention away from her boyfriend, the prime suspect in the slashing attack. Police have also charged two men with disorderly conduct.

Teague is currently facing no charges in relation to the attack. “I just wish this wasn’t about sexuality. Even though there might be enough to substantiate a claim of hate crime, I still feel hated,” he said.

August 7, 2012 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, bi-phobia, Bisexual persons, Blame the victim, gay bashing, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, Rhode Island, Slashing attacks, Slurs and epithets | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Gay, Lesbian, Transgender Murders Skyrocket; Highest Hate Crime Murder Rate Ever Recorded

Burke Burnett, 26, of Paris, Texas narrowly missed being murdered in an October 2011 anti-gay hate crime (Dallas Voice photo). Two of the three persons who assaulted him have received long prison sentences with hate crimes enhancements.

New York, New York – LGBTQH hate crimes murders in 2011 reached the highest number in recorded United States history, according to the annual report of the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP). The frightening statistics of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender persons, and HIV-affected persons brutally murdered in homophobic hate crimes was released to the press on May 31. Among the highlights of the disturbing 2011 report:

  • The number of murders of LGBTQH people ROSE a full 11 per cent
  • 30 murders recorded; the highest number since the NCAVP has kept records
  • Transgender women, people of color, and gender variant youth are experiencing the most severe assault of violence against them
  • 87 per cent of these murders befell LGBTQH people of color
  • This high murder rate is the third year in a row (2009, 2010, and now 2011) that shows hate crimes killings rising
  • Youth and Young Adults were 2.41 times more likely to have been physically attacked in bias-related crimes than the general LGBTQH population
  • Transgender women comprised 40 per cent of the murder totals, making the second year in a row that Transwomen faced violence in outsized proportions to their numbers in the LGBTQH community

Even though the report shows a 16 per cent decrease in bias-related acts of violence against the LGBTQH community, an encouraging trend, the decrease is overthrown by the alarming jump in hate crimes murders. Detroit, Michigan, for example, showed a major increase in violence against transgender people, prompting Nusrat Ventimiglia of Equality Michigan to note that much of their budget was being consumed in response to the hike in the murder rate in the queer community. Rebecca Waggoner of OutFront Minnesota said that the outrage of youth murders and suicides demands more money and staff on the part of anti-violence programs nationwide to address the epidemic of death among gender variant young people.

Since the Matthew Shepard/James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act was signed into law by President Obama in October 2009, the incidence of homophobic, biphobic, and transphobic murder has increased year by year, indicating that vigorous prosecution of killers is demanded by the U.S. Justice Department, the FBI, and all branches of state and local law enforcement.  NCAVP’s New York City Anti-Violence Co-ordinator, Chai Jindasurat, said to the media: “NCAVP’s findings are a call to policymakers, advocates, and community members that the prevention of violence against LGBTQ and HIV-affected individuals needs to be a priority.” The report includes specific  policy changes that may reduce the increasing trend of these murders, including an increase in funding for LGBTQH anti-violence support and prevention, and a concentrated effort to bring an end of the homophobic, transphobic, and biphobic culture that fuels hate violence.

18 states do not currently include sexual orientation in their hate crimes statutes, and 22 states do not include gender identity or gender expression. This lack of state concern for LGBTQH victims of hate crime allows the suspects of anti-gay or anti-transgender acts to believe they can carry out their bias crimes against the queer community with impunity. Even when a state has a hate crimes law on the books, like Texas, the rarity of its use by local law enforcement and district attorneys emboldens homophobic killers to carry out their irrational violence without fearing prosecution.

 The media report condensing the massive 2011 NCAVP hate crimes report can be downloaded here.

June 4, 2012 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, bi-phobia, Bullycide, Equality Michigan, FBI, gay bashing, Gender Variant Youth, GLBTQ, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, hate crimes prevention, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, LGBTQ suicide, Matthew Shepard Act, Michigan, Minnesota, National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), New York, OutFront Minnesota, Social Justice Advocacy, Texas, transphobia, U.S. Justice Department | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Gay, Lesbian, Transgender Murders Skyrocket; Highest Hate Crime Murder Rate Ever Recorded

Gay Martyr for Justice Harvey Milk Celebrated Throughout America

San Francisco, California – Harvey Milk Day, May 22, celebrates the life and legacy of love of Harvey Bernard Milk, born May 22, 1930, and gunned down in his San Francisco City Hall office on November 27, 1978.  He was the first openly gay person elected to a major political office in the United States when he won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.  His close associate,  gay activist Cleve Jones, says of his friend Harvey, “He fought for gay people, against war and for workers and the poor. He stood with women, immigrants, seniors and youth. He forged coalitions that built power for ordinary men and women and moved us all forward with his humor, compassion and great love for his people.” 

In today’s San Francisco Chronicle, Anne Kronenberg, another intimate friend of Harvey’s who managed his successful election campaign to the Board of Supervisors, reflects on Harvey’s legacy of human rights progress in the 33 years since he was assassinated.  She writes, “In 1977” (the year of Harvey’s election), “we were taking baby steps in our fight for equal rights. In 2012, we have come a long way as the dialogue on equality is a top-of-mind issue and specific actions are reaching that goal. Harvey Milk’s life and death changed the course of history,” Kronenberg went on to say. “Milk’s legacy, to give people hope for a better tomorrow, is very much alive in the hearts of anyone working to achieve change. Thank you, Harvey!”

In 2010, the State of California officially set aside May 22, the anniversary of Harvey’s birth, to be an annual celebration of his memory, the story of the struggle for LGBTQ rights, and of the continuing effort to make this a better world.  His work in education (successfully opposing the infamous Briggs Initiative, also known in California as Prop 6), and in youth empowerment is now being championed by the Harvey B. Milk Foundation, founded by Harvey’s nephew Stuart Milk and his friend Anne Kronenberg.  To learn more about Harvey’s life, times, assassination and witness for justice, see the Academy Award winning films The Times of Harvey Milk (1984) and Milk (2009). In book form, the definitive work is still Randy Shilts’s The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk (St. Martins Griffin, 2008).

The Unfinished Lives Project Team joins grateful Americans from every walk of life in the celebration of Harvey Milk, hate crimes murder victim, gay rights pioneer, and friend of all marginalized people.  Though he died, yet he lives in our hearts and minds, and in the living shrine of liberty made up of the lived experiences of increasing millions of out and proud LGBTQ people.  Happy Birthday, Harvey!

May 22, 2012 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, bi-phobia, Bisexual persons, California, gay men, GLBTQ, gun violence, Harvey B. Milk Foundation, Harvey Milk Day, Hate Crimes, hate crimes prevention, Heterosexism and homophobia, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Remembrances, Social Justice Advocacy, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Gay Martyr for Justice Harvey Milk Celebrated Throughout America

Poison Pen Pal Scott Lively Writes Gay People: “I Love You, But You Deserve Hell”

Anti-LGBTQ Activist Scott Lively

Springfield, Massachusetts – In an example of the worst religion-based bigotry of this generation, a longtime promoter of violent rhetoric against the LGBTQ community published an open letter claiming to love gay people with a message of hate.  Scott Lively, founder of Abiding Truth Ministries in Springfield, Massachusetts, has targeted gays and lesbians for criminalization on three continents, and is on the Montgomery, Alabama Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of Hate Groups.  The SPLC in its “Hatewatch: Keeping an Eye on the Radical Right” bulletin reports that Lively posted an RSVP letter to “LGBTs” on his DefendtheFamily.com website on Monday. Lively says he “loves” gays, but they are all bound for hell, and need help.

As the SPLC notes, Lively has worked feverishly for three decades to defame and outlaw gays and lesbians in his speaking and publishing.  His only work of note is The Pink Swastika, a thoroughly discredited screed in which Lively contends that the Nazi movement was a homosexual plot.  By implication, Lively accuses LGBTQ people of instigating World War II and the execution of untold millions. While no reputable historian credits a thing he says, right wing Slavic Christian extremists have promoted the book throughout the old Soviet Bloc and beyond.  Lively has been influential in the Watchmen On the Walls ministries, which has calls gays and lesbians a disease that requires an “divine penicillin” and expressions of “muscular Christianity” to cure.  He is one of the prime advocates of reparative therapy in sub-Saharan Africa.  In Uganda, Lively testified before lawmakers as the infamous “Kill the Gays” bill was making its way through Parliament.  Now that the Ugandan government is reconsidering the stalled bill, which makes homosexual activity punishable by death, Lively’s pseudo-science and religious distortions will come into play again, urging state-sanctioned violence and oppression against LGBTQ people.

In this country, Lively excused the hate crime murder of gay immigrant Satendar Singh by Slavic Christian fundamentalists in Sacramento.  Singh’s murder heightened tensions between the LGBTQ community and Russian and Slavic fundamentalist churches, as reported at chapter length in the recent book by Dr. Stephen Sprinkle, Unfinished LivesIn effect, Lively has declared war on the LGBTQ community  time and time again. In a letter to the Washington Times on June 23, 2003, Lively wrote: “No clear-thinking person believes that the homosexual sexual ethic and that of the family-based society can peacefully coexist. …One must prevail at the expense of the other.”  At a Russian conference in Novosibirsk in August 2007, Lively’s violent metaphors came out in the open: “There is a war that is going on in the world. There is a war that is waging across the entire face of the globe. It’s been waging in the United States for decades, and it’s been waging in Europe for decades. It’s a war between Christians and homosexuals.”

In Lively’s RSVP letter to the LGBT community, though he changes his tone, there is no reason to believe he has moderated any of his virulent, anti-gay intentions for outlawing and criminalizing people based on their sexual orientation and gender variant identity.  He claims that God gave him a “Word” in March to speak directly to the gay community.  He writes to LGBTQ people: “I am appealing to you to begin to agree with God about homosexual sin, and to turn away from the seductive lie that God approves of homosexuality and wants you to embrace a homosexual identity . . . You must repent to be saved.”  Lively particularly singles out Open and Affirming Churches, which welcome LGBTQ people and celebrate their lives and loves, and reduces Christian faith to a condemnation of anyone who deviates from Lively’s norms.  Lively also condemns any attempt from the gay and lesbian community to do theology at odds with his own: “’Gay theology’ turns the logic of the Bible on its head, and tries to make the sinner “good enough” to earn heaven . . . This is a dangerous lie that leads straight to hell.”  The solution for LGBTQ people is to rush to Exodus International for anti-gay aversion brainwashing.

In an astonishing attempt to prey upon LGBTQ people who suffer from internalized homophobia, he finishes his letter with a simpering self-justification: “In publishing this letter I know that I will be subjecting myself to ridicule, abuse and hatred. You know very well how nasty some of your peers can be. Yet I am doing it anyway, because in Jesus I love you and I want you to be saved . . . Frankly, as I sit here at my computer, I wonder whether my entire career against your political and social agenda, and all of the notoriety I have achieve in your community might all have occurred so that I would be a person whose letter you would read today.”

Scott Lively is an example of the worst religious bigotry active in America today.  SPLC’s Ryan Lenz writes that Lively began his career in bigotry in 1992 seeking to classify homosexuality on a par with pedophilia and sadomasochism.  He has not changed, nor are his motives ever to be trusted.  Ask Satendar Singh’s family. 

October 27, 2011 Posted by | "Kill the Gays Bill", Alabama, Anglo Americans, Anti-Gay Hate Groups, Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Beatings and battery, bi-phobia, Bisexual persons, California, gay men, gender identity/expression, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Homosexuality and the Bible, Internalized homophobia, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Massachusetts, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, religious hate speech, religious intolerance, Russia, Russian Federation, Scott Lively, Social Justice Advocacy, Southern Poverty Law Center, transgender persons, transphobia, Uganda | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Matthew Wayne Shepard: Honor and Educate in His Memory


Thank you to the Sacramento Gay and Lesbian Center. Never forget!

Laramie, Wyoming – Wednesday, October 12 will be the thirteenth anniversary of America’s archetypal gay hate crimes victim.  Matthew Shepard was brutally attacked and beaten into a coma by two locals who targeted him for abduction, robbery, and murder at the Fireside Lounge on the night of October 7, 1998.  They left him trussed to the base of a buck fence, exposed to the freezing cold after stealing his shoes.  When Matt was discovered the next day by a passing mountain biker, he was so brutally disfigured that his discoverer at first assumed what he was looking at was a broken down scarecrow that had been put out for Hallowe’en.  Matt’s injuries were too severe to be treated at the local hospital emergency room, so he was transported to Fort Collins in neighboring Colorado where a state of the art trauma center fought to save his life.  For five agonizing days, Matt lay close to death with an injured brain stem–a terrible wound from which he could never recover.  His family, mother Judy, father Dennis, and younger brother Logan stood vigil beside him while the life force ebbed.

For thirteen years, Matt’s memory has been honored, invoked, and ridiculed by a nation wrestling with heterosexism, homophobia, and transphobia–a culture of anti-LGBTQ violence that has claimed the lives of over 13,000 queer folk whom we know about (and God knows how many others whose murders have never been reported to anyone keeping records).  Nothing will ever bring any of them back to us.  They are gone, but to memory.

Those of us who labor for the better angels of our national character to emerge have a responsibility to remember Matt and all the rest, to honor them by never forgetting the cost of being sexually different in these United States, and to take up the mission of educating the LGBTQ community and the general public that difference of any kind is no warrant for ignorance,prejudice, and violence, but rather is an occasion for understanding and neighborly solidarity.  The anniversary of Matt’s untimely death is a good time to erase hatred from the American psyche.

In that spirit, I offer this short excerpt from “The Second Death of Matthew Shepard,” Chapter One of my recently published book, Unfinished Lives: Reviving the Memories of LGBTQ Hate Crimes Victims:

“Matt Shepard died in a Fort Collins, Colorado hospital in the wee hours of October 12, 1998 with his parents by his side. Ironically, it was the day after America’s observance of National Coming Out Day. His team of doctors and nurses, professional as they were, could not undo what hate had done to Matt.  He never woke up from his coma. His heart gave out. The ventilator switched off, and Matt was gone. Our memory of him,however, cannot rest in peace. Not yet” (page 3).

Our memory of all the dead whose “unfinished lives” calls out to us to do the work of justice.  May Matt and the 13,000 rest in peace. God being our strength, we must not.  Grace and peace to all on this National Coming Out Day 2011.  ~ Stephen V. Sprinkle

October 11, 2011 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Asian Americans, Beatings and battery, bi-phobia, Bisexual persons, Bludgeoning, gay bashing, gay men, gay teens, Gender Variant Youth, GLBTQ, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, hate crimes prevention, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Matthew Shepard, Matthew Shepard Act, Matthew Shepard Foundation, Native Americans, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Remembrances, Social Justice Advocacy, transgender persons, transphobia, Unfinished Lives Book Signings, Wyoming | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Church-Led Gay Bashing in Tennessee: WWJD?

Jerry Pittman Jr. and Dustin Lee (L to R), attacked by church members in West Tennessee

Humbolt, Tennessee – In the quiet outskirts of rural Humbolt, Tennessee, a church with a Fruitland address was the scene for a violent attack on two young gay men simply for arriving at Wednesday evening services.  What Would Jesus Do (WWJD) about Church-and-Pastor instigated gay bashing?  On September 28, Jerry Pittman Jr. and his boyfriend, Dustin Lee, arrived at Grace Fellowship Church where his father, Jerry Pittman Sr., is the pastor.  Just before the gay couple got out of their car, Jerry Jr. heard his father cry, “Sic ’em!,” as a hunter would address a pack of dogs.  Two deacons from the church, and Jerry Jr.’s uncle who is also a deacon, attacked the pair while they were still trying to get out of the parked vehicle.  WBBJ Eyewitness News interviewed Jerry Jr. soon after the church gay bashed the couple: “My uncle and two other deacons came over to the car per my dad’s request,” young Jerry said. “My uncle smashed me in the door as the other deacon knocked my boyfriend back so he couldn’t help me, punching him in his face and his chest. The other deacon came and hit me through my car window in my back.”  The men kept yelling homophobic insults and slurs at the couple even after a Gibson County Deputy Sheriff arrived on the scene.  The couple attempted to press charges with the officer, who refused to allow them to do so, implying that they were the cause of the attack themselves.  Gibson County Sheriff Chuck Arnold defended the actions of his deputy to the press, saying, “I haven’t talk to him but that would be out of character for my deputy to say unless they were causing a problem themselves.”  Media attention has caused the sheriff to temper his remarks in subsequent interviews.

Pittman and Lee did press charges the following Friday against Deacons Billy Sims and Eugene McCoy, as well as Rev. Jerry Pittman Sr. and Deacon Patrick Flatt, the younger Pittman’s uncle.  When WBBJ reporters contacted the pastor, he refused comment and demanded that the station not try to communicate with him again.

Evan Hurst of Truth Wins Out gives the latest details on this story that has shocked Christians and non-Christians alike, awakening them to the presence of virulent, anti-gay prejudice in America’s pulpits and pews.  Hurst spoke to Jerry Jr. by phone on October 5, who said, “The church acted as four people, instead of as a congregation.”  Pittman explained that he and his boyfriend had attended the church before, though they knew the condemning stance of the elder Pittman, who preached anti-gay sermons “when the couple wasn’t there.”  Lee had even been invited to sing at Grace Fellowship once when he attended services alone.  But marital trouble broke out between Pittman Sr. and Jerry Jr.’s stepmother, and, in Hurst’s words, “the floodgates opened and the church no longer felt the need to stay silent about Jerry, Jr. and his boyfriend.”   The charges and counter charges in this case are still being sorted out.  All parties are remanded to court on November 22.  Meanwhile, Jerry Pittman Jr. and Dustin Lee are left to pick up the pieces of their lives and shattered faith.  Jerry Jr. has already lost his job because of the days he has spent pursuing justice for himself and his boyfriend.

West Tennessee is a tough place to be gay or lesbian, much less transgender.  Hurst relates a “man-on-the-street” interview in Jackson, in which the reporter asked a passer-by about what he would do if his son brought a boyfriend to church with him.  The man candidly said he would shoot them.  The culture of hatred, religious intolerance of LGBTQ people, and church-sanctioned violence remains undisturbed in America’s heartland, no matter if there is a federal Matthew Shepard Act to offer some protection legally to marginalized gay people.

Would Jesus condone anti-gay violence?  If not, then why is such prejudice overtly and covertly incubated in the nation’s communities of faith, like Grace Fellowship?  While it may be simple for many Christians to dismiss the Grace Fellowship hate crime as an aberration in an embarrassing, Pentecostal byway, the silence from every other church in the surrounding area is deafening.  The Unfinished Lives Project has shown the link between religious intolerance, religious hate speech, and deadly anti-gay violence.  Nine out of ten fatal hate crimes perpetrated against LGBTQ people in the United States were sparked, by admission of the killers, by Bible or Church teaching.  If churches cannot speak out against an attack against a young gay couple simply for arriving at a church for services, what will they remain silent about next?  WWJD about Christians and Churches who gay bash or stand by silently while others do?  Read John 11:35: “Jesus wept.”

October 5, 2011 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, bi-phobia, Bisexual persons, Blame the victim, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Homosexuality and the Bible, Law and Order, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Matthew Shepard Act, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, religious hate speech, religious intolerance, Slurs and epithets, Tennessee, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

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

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

Progressive Houston Clergy Oppose Gov. Perry’s So-Called “Day of Prayer”

Rick Perry wants to be Governor PrayPal

Houston, Texas – Governor Rick Perry is beating the hate drum in Houston again, under the guise of a Christian prayer rally.  Perry, in partnership with a known anti-gay hate group, the American Family Association, plans to pack out Reliant Stadium on August 6, 2011, in a crass attempt to camouflage a rightwing, anti-gay, anti-choice agenda.  Hitching his political ambitions to evangelical Protestant and conservative Roman Catholic religion is a well-worn strategy of Perry’s.  In 2005, he launched a political campaign by a showy signing ceremony for a bill curtailing abortion practices in Texas at Fort Worth’s Calvary Cathedral International, a large church pastored by a man who held anti-abortion views. Houston’s clergy are not taking this most recent charade of the Governor’s passively.  According to the Houston Chronicle, 24 local leaders, representing thousands of fair-minded Houstonians, issued an open letter to the Governor on Monday.  The full text of the letter follows, so Unfinished Lives Blog readers may see the full power of Progressive Religious leadership in opposition to this thinly-veiled attempt to co-opt Christianity for extremist right wing purposes.

June 13, 2011 As Houston clergy, we write to express our deep concern over Governor Rick Perry’s proclamation of a day of prayer and fasting at Houston’s Reliant Stadium on August 6th. In our role as faith leaders, we encourage and support prayer, meditation, and spiritual practice. Yet our governor’s religious event gives us pause for a number of reasons: We believe in a healthy boundary between church and state. Out of respect for the state, we believe that it should represent all citizens equally and without preference for religious or philosophical tradition. Out of respect for religious communities, we believe that they should foster faithful ways of living without favoring one political party over another. Keeping the church and state separate allows each to thrive and upholds our proud national tradition of empowering citizens to worship freely and vote conscientiously. We are concerned that our governor has crossed the line by organizing and leading a religious event rather than focusing on the people’s business in Austin. We also express concern that the day of prayer and fasting at Reliant Stadium is not an inclusive event. As clergy leaders in the nation’s fourth largest city, we take pride in Houston’s vibrant and diverse religious landscape. Our religious communities include Bahais, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Unitarian Universalists, and many other faith traditions. Our city is also home to committed agnostics and atheists, with whom we share common cause as fellow Houstonians. Houston has long been known as a “live and let live” city, where all are respected and welcomed. It troubles us that the governor’s prayer event is not open to everyone. In the publicized materials, the governor has made it clear that only Christians of a particular kind are welcome to pray in a certain way. We feel that such an exclusive event does not reflect the rich tapestry of our city. Our deepest concern, however, lies in the fact that funding for this event appears to come from the American Family Association, an organization labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The American Family Association and its leadership have a long track record of anti-gay speech and have actively worked to discriminate against the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community. The American Family Association and its leadership have also been stridently anti-Muslim, going so far as to question the rights of Muslim Americans to freely organize and practice their faith. We believe it is inappropriate for our governor to organize a religious event funded by a group known for its discriminatory stances. As religious leaders, we commit to join with all Houstonians in working to make our city a better place. We will lead our communities in prayer, meditation, and spiritual practice. We ask that Rick Perry leave the ministry to us and refocus his energy on the work of governing our state.  Signed//: Members of the Houston Clergy Council

June 15, 2011 Posted by | American Family Association, Anti-Gay Hate Groups, bi-phobia, Bisexual persons, gay men, GLBTQ, Governor Rick Perry, Heterosexism and homophobia, Houston Clergy Council, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Politics, Protests and Demonstrations, Public Theology, religious intolerance, Resurrection MCC Houston, Social Justice Advocacy, Southern Poverty Law Center, Texas, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Houston “Unfinished Lives” Series Draws Large Crowd; Session 2 on June 10: “Lessons Learned”

Houston, Texas – Strong attendance marked the first “Unfinished Lives” session for Houston’s Gay Pride Month.  Much-anticipated Session 2: Lessons Learned is upcoming at Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church at 6:30 pm.  Dr. Stephen Sprinkle, author of Unfinished Lives: Reviving the Memories of LGBTQ Hate Crimes Victims, will share five life lessons the stories of hate crimes murder victims have to teach us.  Among the insights Dr. Sprinkle will share in Session 2 are: Why we must learn to talk and think about anti-gay hate crime murder in a different way than ever before; How to stand with our Transgender sisters and brothers as so many are preyed upon; What makes the numbers of anti-LGBTQ hate murders spike upward, even after the enactment of the long-awaited Matthew Shepard Act. The first session, “Stories of Those We’ve Lost,” set the stage for considering violent hate crimes against the LGBTQ community in a brand new light.  Dr. Sprinkle compassionately told the stories of Houston’s own Kenneth L. Cummings Jr., and Simmie/Beyoncé Williams Jr. of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, both of whom died for being gay and/or gender variant.  Cummings, a 46-year-old Southwest Airlines Flight Attendant, was hunted by a religious zealot who murdered him and burned his corpse in a remote South Texas location as a “burnt offering.”  Williams, a transgender teen of color, was shot to death on the day word came to her of acceptance in the Job Corps, news so exciting that she went down to the Sistrunk Avenue “Transvestite Stroll” to share with her gay family. She was shot to death by two young men who fled the scene, and are as yet unidentified.  Dr. Sprinkle talked about sadness and hope in relation to both killings, and encouraged the audience to learn more about the real people behind the statistics on hate crimes.  Central to his presentation was the idea that LGBTQ Hate Crimes Victims are our ancestors, portals through whom we can learn to love our lives and our queer communities better, deeper, and more fully.  Rev Kristen Klein-Cechettini and Rev. Lynette Ross led the session in a meaningful, hopeful, and life-giving celebration of the lives of all hate crimes victims, represented by the fourteen stories told in Unfinished Lives.  “Session 2: Lessons Learned” will pick up the theme, highlighting two more stories from Dr. Sprinkle’s ground-breaking book, and offering important insights on what the lives of gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people really count for.  From 6:30 to 7 p.m., a delicious light supper will be provided free of charge.  The session will begin at 7 and conclude by 8:30 p.m.  Sponsors for the series are Cathedral of Hope Houston, Transgender Foundation of America, and Resurrection MCC. Everyone is invited to add this significant experience to their Pride Month activities in Houston!

June 8, 2011 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Beatings and battery, bi-phobia, Bisexual persons, Book Tour, Cathedral of Hope Houston, 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, Legislation, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Matthew Shepard Act, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, religious intolerance, Remembrances, Resurrection MCC Houston, Social Justice Advocacy, stalking, Texas, Unfinished Lives Book Signings, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Houston “Unfinished Lives” Series Draws Large Crowd; Session 2 on June 10: “Lessons Learned”

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