Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Multi-Racial Response to Religious Gay Bashing at “Rally for Love” in Dallas

Apostle Alex Byrd calls for dialogue and accountability for religious homophobia

Dallas, Texas – Forty women and men from multiple racial ethnic backgrounds and several churches and LGBT activist groups rallied for prayer and protest, declaring that “spiritual abuse of LGBT people must stop” in pulpits everywhere.  The Rally for Love, swiftly organized by a coalition of Blacks, Native Americans, Latinos, Whites, LGBT churches, activist groups, and Brite Divinity School students and faculty, protested the homophobic sermon of Dr. Janet Floyd of Monroe, Louisiana, featured speaker at the Urgent Utterances Conference on Monday, April 12.  The conference gathered Black Church scholars from around the nation to meet for three days at Friendship West Baptist Church, a predominantly Black mega-church in South Dallas pastored by Dr. Freddie Haynes.  Galled by the claim that gays and lesbians are demonic, and that lesbians in particular have a demon that must be driven out, 12 students from Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, TX and half the student contingent of Vanderbilt Divinity School in Nashville, TN walked out of the Conference worship service in silent protest.  J.W. Richard, of the Examiner.com, reports that the participants heard accounts from three witnesses to the “disparaging comments” made by the speaker, sister of Urgent Utterances organizer, Dr. Stacey Floyd-Thomas of Vanderbilt Divinity School: “Speaking on the Dallas Voice’s Instant Tea weblog, Brite Divinity student, Sam Castleberry, wrote that among the comments made by Dr. Floyd was one that the ‘lesbian demon should be exorcised’. Two more witnesses spoke at tonight’s rally event, including Pastor Jon Haack of Promise MCC, concurred with that account and included that Dr. Floyd’s sermon mentioned that the storm of Hurricane Katrina and the tragedy at Columbine High School were also of divine appointment.”  Theologians and pastors at the Rally for Love condemned such a faulty theology of God.  Norma Gann, Cherokee student at Brite, called for prayer for Dr. Floyd as she denied that as a lesbian Christian she had any demon to be cast out.  She said that the pulpit in a church is a “sacred space,” and the sermon she heard aimed at LGBT people had violated that sacred space.  Katherine Heath said that the vigor and volume of Dr. Floyd’s sermon delivery concerned her as she condemned lesbians and gay people from the pulpit.  Transgender minister at Living Faith Covenant Church, Minister Carmarion D. Anderson, called for the Rally to remember that “transgender people and many outside the church” were harmed by such religion-based bigotry.  Rev. Deneen Robinson, representing the Human Rights Campaign, Michael Robinson, noted African American LGBT activist, Manda Adams of First Congregational Church (UCC) in Fort Worth, and Blake Wilkinson of Queer LiberAction, also spoke out.  Apostle Alex Byrd, spiritual leader of Living Faith Covenant Church of Dallas, claimed both his heritage as a black man and a gay man, and then called for understanding, dialogue and accountability for anyone demeaning any group of people.  He noted that the Tuesday sessions and workshops at the Urgent Utterances Conference were more inclusive, “something that would make us all proud,” the Apostle said to the crowd.  But while he decried religious homophobia in any church, Apostle Byrd made it clear that preachers in the Black Church tradition were also “accountable for the way their message affects those who hear it.”  He pledged to press the issue with the conference leadership because those who were directly hurt needed a response.  The Examiner reports that “Conversations at tonight’s rally included an email conversation from Apostle Alex Byrd …, working in tandem with Bishop Yvette Flunder, Senior Pastor of City of Refuge United Church of Christ [San Francisco], to gain an official response from Friendship-West pastoral leadership. In the meantime, as prayers for healing were offered for themselves, Dr. Floyd, Dr. Haynes, and conference attendees and speakers, it was also clear that attendees of tonight’s rally were no longer going to subject themselves to what Pastor Haack termed, “spiritual abuse”, from the pulpit.”  Dr. Leo Perdue, faculty member at Brite and a Vanderbilt Ph.D., said that he was deeply concerned that such a deplorable sermon could be delivered at an event sponsored by his alma mater, and organized by a faculty member there.  He hoped Vanderbilt would quickly distance itself from Dr. Floyd’s sermon.  “Wherever it is done and whoever sponsors it, homophobia is wrong and must be opposed,” he said.  Participants organized to endorse Apostle Byrd’s communiqué to Friendship-West Church, and to commit themselves to work for justice “for the long haul” as Dr. Stephen Sprinkle of Brite and Michael Robinson said at the conclusion of the Rally.  An album of pictures taken at the Rally for Love by Dr. Stephen V. Sprinkle and Sam Green may be found on Facebook

UPDATE: Excellent article on the Event by the Examiner

April 16, 2010 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, Bisexual persons, gay men, harassment, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, Louisiana, Protests and Demonstrations, Racism, religious hate speech, religious intolerance, Social Justice Advocacy, Texas, transgender persons, transphobia, Vigils | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Christmas Murder of Gay Man in Louisiana Still Unresolved

Houma, LA –  Early on Christmas morning, Robert LeCompte, 39, was found stabbed to death in a prominent gay and lesbian night club he managed.  His body was riddled with stab wounds, suggesting the possibility of a hate crime.  $4,700 was reported missing by the club’s owner, Randall Chesnut, with whom LeCompte lived.  Terrebone Parish law enforcement officers are working to develop clues in the case. When LeCompte did not come home as expected, Chesnut called the police, leading to their discovery of the gay man’s blood-soaked corpse lying in the middle of the dance floor of the Drama Club on Hollywood Road.  Chesnut spoke kind words about his employee to reporters from the Tri-Parish Times: “He had no enemies,” Chesnut said. “The boy was loved by everyone. He wasn’t but 5-foot, 2 (inches), and soaking wet he didn’t weigh but 120 pounds. I’ve probably just lost one of the best friends I’ve ever had, and the best employee, too.”  Initially, the missing money led the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office to communicate to the media that this was a robbery only.  But Chesnut, himself a former detective, is not persuaded.  “I would believe motivation would be definitely robbery, but when you start stabbing the body multiple times, that’s a crime of passion. I’m not ruling out the fact that it could be a hate crime. Whoever killed him was very angry, as far as the police are concerned.”   Major  Malcolm Wolfe, spokesman for the sheriff’s department, said that no strong leads exist in the case yet.  He indicated that sheriff’s officers were working night and day to crack the case.  According to Chesnut, the LeCompte family is unable to finance their relative’s funeral and burial by themselves, so members of the gay and lesbian community have stepped up to the challenge, and donations are coming in.  He told Tri-Parish Times reporter Brett Schweinburg, “The gay community, I’m so proud of them. They’ve stepped up, and they’re pissed. They’re not scared. He has lit a fire in this community,” said Chesnut. “Most of the people in this community, they fear the law or they fear this, but it’s taken the opposite effect. There’s a determination here.”  A vigil for LeCompte was held on Christmas Day at the Drama Club, with over 150 people attending.  Vigils and fund-raisers are planned in Houma, Baton Rouge,and New Orleans with a memorial at the Drama Club set for Saturday, January 2, 2010.  One of the saddest ironies of this possible anti-LGBT hate crime murder is that Christmas Day was his birthday.

January 2, 2010 Posted by | Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, gay men, Hate Crimes, Law and Order, Lesbian women, Louisiana, Remembrances, stabbings, Unsolved LGBT Crimes, Vigils | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Another “Beyoncé” Killing: New Orleans Trans Murder Hate Motivated?

Beyoncé Knowles

Beyoncé Knowles

New Orleans, LA – The Times-Picayune and Advocate.com report the Sunday murder of a victim who presented femininely and referred to herself as “Beyoncé,” in tribute to the popular star of soul and pop/rock, Beyoncé Knowles.  The victim, Eric Lee, 21, was stabbed repeatedly at an apartment complex in the Algiers neighborhood.  Police found Lee’s slashed body inside a first-floor apartment.  Witnesses say they heard Lee arguing heatedly with a group of women before the time of the murder.  While police have not announced a suspected motive for the killing, the m.o. fits a transphobic hate crime pattern.  Residents who knew her say that Lee, who was in transition from male to female, often dressed in women’s clothing, and drew ridicule from the neighborhood because of it.  An unidentified source told the Times-Picayune that Lee “dressed to the nines.”  Carl Adams, who claimed that he did not know the victim well, told reporters that he had often heard Lee arguing with neighbors.  “Probably because they made fun of him,” he said.  In recent years, other trans and non-gender conforming African Americans who have identified with the megastar Knowles have died at the hands of phobic killers.  Simmie Lewis Williams, Jr., 17, who also called himself “Beyoncé,” died from gunshot wounds in 2007 in the 1000 block of Sistrunk Avenue in Fort Lauderdale, FL.  Adolphus “Beyoncé” Simmons, 18, a talented female impersonator from North Charleston, South Carolina, similarly died outside his apartment while carrying out the trash to a bin, also in 2007.  Much like queer southern whites have idolized Dolly Parton, dressing like her and lip-syncing her hits, Beyoncé has entranced young black cross dressers and transgender women, and has legions of gay and lesbian fans, both black and white.  Yet she has not become the advocate for LGBT people that Ms. Parton has.  Ms. Knowles has occasionally reached out to her LGBT fans, especially after an international flap over her comments concerning the onstage kiss between Madonna and Britney Spears at the MTV Awards in 2003.  At the time, the British tabloid, The Sun, charged Knowles with homophobic statements based on her strict religious upbringing.  On her website, she refuted the claims of the tabloid, writing, “I’d like to clarify any confusion over some quotes that were attributed to me totally out of context in a recent interview. I have never judged anyone based on his or her sexual orientation and have no intention of starting now. I have a lot of gay and lesbian fans and I love them no differently than my straight fans.”  For an interview in Instinct reported on AfterElton.com, she revealed that she was raised by a gay uncle who died of AIDS-related complications.  “He helped me buy my prom dress. He made my clothes with my mother. He was like my nanny. He was my favorite person in the whole world,” she said.  To date, her love and respect for her uncle and her LGBT fans notwithstanding, she has not spoken out against the harm being perpetrated against queer fans who are suffering the ultimate price for paying her the ultimate tribute.  The murder of Eric “Beyoncé” Lee, while outrageous in its own right, underlines the need from some statement on Ms. Knowles’ part, condemning such killings.  Of course, Beyoncé Knowles is not responsible in any way for the killing of Lee, Williams, Simmons, or anyone who chooses to bear her name.  But the number of those dying to emulate her suggest that statements from her and other influential black entertainers against homophobia and transphobia is at least urgent, if not overdue.  ~ NB: Pronouns in this article reflect the usage of the source in quotations.  Williams and Simmons referred to themselves using masculine pronouns.  As is appropriate for an M to F transperson, Lee is referred to using feminine pronouns.

July 29, 2009 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Florida, gay men, harassment, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Lesbian women, Louisiana, South Carolina, Special Comments, stabbings, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


%d bloggers like this: