Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Gay Native American Murder Sentence Decried as Too Light; Mother Indicts Judge and Wyoming Court

David Moss, 25, gay Arapaho beaten to death with a bat and brass knuckles by teenagers.

David Moss, 25, gay Arapaho beaten to death with a bat and brass knuckles by teenagers.

Riverton, Wyoming – Santana Mendoza, the second teenage defendant in the September 2013 murder of a gay Native American was sentenced for manslaughter yesterday in the death of a gay Native American, and the victim’s mother is crying foul.  Her son’s murder was a hate crime, Victoria Moss said, and the sentences the court handed down to the teens who killed him show the world that the life of a Native American gay man is worth less than if he were straight and white.  County 10 reports that Ms. Moss declared that since this is National LGBTQ Pride Month, she would be honoring her son while gay people and allies celebrated Pride.  “This Saturday,” she said, “I will be celebrating the pride I have for my gay son.”

David Ronald Moss Jr., 25, was bludgeoned to death by teenagers Santana Mendoza and John Potter on the Rails to Trails Pathway behind a Riverton trailer park on September 4, 2013. Moss’s companion, Aleeah Crispin, was beaten into brain damage by the teens during the same attack, leaving her unable to speak for weeks afterwards. Mendoza and Potter, 16 and 15 at the time of the brutal assault, were both tried as adults. Both initially pled not guilty to all charges.  In April of this year, after a plea deal reducing the charge from second degree murder to manslaughter, Potter was sentenced, as reported by County 10.  After the same plea deal was accepted by District Attorney Michael Bennett for Mendoza, his sentence was handed down by Ninth Circuit Judge Norman E. Young after a one-hour sentencing hearing at which Crispin herself testified.  Mendoza’s sentence mirrors Potter’s sentence almost perfectly: 12 to 18 years for the murder of Moss, minus time served, and 8 to 10 years for the assault on Crispin, both sentences to run concurrently.  The sentence also mandates that the youths share a restitution of $12,000 to be paid to the living victim and the families. Moss’s mother is convinced that her son’s sexual orientation and Native American heritage played into the judge’s decision to hand down a light sentence that would never have been tolerated by the white, straight community if the victim had been one of their own.  Some say that the revelation of Moss’s sexual orientation came as a surprise to them.

Judge Young denies being influenced by the knowledge that Moss was gay.  He told County 1o that he now believes neither of the youths “intended” to kill Moss, who succumbed to blunt force trauma to his head according to the Coroner’s report. What Judge Young does admit to considering was the age of the defendants.  Both were born in 1997.  He said that he had never sentenced anyone in his career as young as they.

The attack was swift, terrifying and brutal.  Mendoza testified that he and Potter saw two friends eating fast food near the beginning of the pathway.  The Daily Ranger reported that while Mendoza watched Moss and Crispin, Potter left to retrieve a ball bat and brass knuckles that they used in the attack on Moss and Crispin. The teens beat them in the face with the bat, and repeated kicked them. When they left, Mendoza testified, both victims were unconscious, and Moss was making a “snoring” sound. The next morning, two unresponsive bodies were found on the trail.  Moss was dead.  Crispin was beaten mute, and left with significant brain injuries.

Hate crime was never considered during the investigation. Instead, law enforcement and the District Attorney sought for other motives for the senseless crime.

Moss was an enrolled member of the Northern Arapaho Tribe, and proud of it.  His obituary portrayed a young man who was devoted to family, especially to his niece, Morning Star, and liked by a wide circle of family and friends.

The accusation of David Moss’s mother still hangs in the air as the two youths serve out their sentences: What is the comparative worth of the life of a gay Native American?  Where is the justice in any of this senselessness?

June 26, 2014 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Beatings and battery, Bludgeoning, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, Native Americans, Northern Arapaho Tribe, Racism, women, Wyoming | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Unfinished Lives Project Director Honored Nationally

Honoree Stephen V. Sprinkle (Phoebe Sexton photo for Cathedral of Hope)

Naming him among activist “trailblazers” who have knocked down barriers to LGBT equality, Queerty.com honored Unfinished Lives Project Founder and Director, Dr. Stephen V. Sprinkle as one of “6 LGBT Seniors You Should Know” in the United States. As the capstone to Queerty’s celebration of LGBT History Month, the editorial team decided to honor LGBT activists who had dedicated their lives and work to bringing full equality for LGBTQ people.

Dr. Sprinkle was cited for his work in organized religion, as a pioneer gay scholar at Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, Texas, and for his efforts in anti-LGBTQ hate crimes education and prevention.  In response to the news, Dr. Sprinkle said, “I am moved by this honor, naming me among such a distinguished group of LGBT seniors.  Gray is good!  I also want to lift up the multitudes of queer folk whose labors every day for justice go largely unseen and unsung.  In their names, I accept this honor from Queerty.”  Also named were West Hollywood, California psychologist and Radical Faerie co-founder Don Kilhefner; groundbreaking Chicago, Illinois activist Vernita Gray; New York City LGBT activist Jay Kallio; and Davis, California Marriage Equality champions Shelly Bailes and Ellen Pontiac, who were among the first LGBT couples to be legally married in the Golden State.

November 3, 2011 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, Asian Americans, Bisexual persons, Brite Divinity School, Cathedral of Hope, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, hate crimes prevention, Latino and Latina Americans, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Native Americans, Queerty.com, Social Justice Advocacy, Texas, transgender persons | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Unfinished Lives Project Director Honored Nationally

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

Gender, Sexuality, and Justice Initiative Launched in the Southwest

Rev. Dr. Joretta Marshall, Director of the Carpenter Initiative at Brite Divinity School

Fort Worth, Texas – Brite Divinity School, on the campus of Texas Christian University, launched a ground-breaking program set on changing the role of theological higher education in the human rights struggle in the Southwestern United States.  At Chapel on Tuesday, Rev. Dr. Joretta Marshall, Professor of Pastoral Theology and Pastoral Counseling, preached to inaugurate the Carpenter Initiative on Gender, Sexuality, and Justice, made possible by a grant of $250,000 over five years by The E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation.  Dr. Marshall headed the effort to gain the grant from the Carpenter Foundation, which is the leading grantor of funding for sexuality, gender, and justice concerns in the nation.  She has been named the Director of the Carpenter Initiative in addition to her professorial duties.

The Rev. Ann B. Day, daughter of the originators of the Carpenter Foundation and an ordained minister of the United Church of Christ, was instrumental in reviewing Brite’s proposal, and advising the foundation to make the grant.  The Disciples News Service reported that “the Carpenter Initiative will not only help cover the salary costs of the faculty member who directs the program, but will also support courses at Brite that address these issues, and fund programmatic initiatives in the wider community.”  These programmatic initiatives will engage matters of human rights, articulation of a public theology of full inclusion in the faith community of those marginalized because of gender, gender variance, and sexual orientation, and the development of resources local congregations and denominational offices need to move their membership toward long-lasting acceptance of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Dr. Stephen Sprinkle, a member of the Brite faculty and Director of the Unfinished Lives Project, said, “This initiative is the next vital step in Brite’s ‘coming out’ process as a center for the full inclusion of all God’s children, especially those who have formerly been shunned by churches, synagogues, and mosques because of their actual or perceived sexual difference.”  Over the course of several years, Dr. Marshall and Dr. Sprinkle, together with allies in the faculty, staff, board of trustees, and alumni of the school, have worked for the full inclusion of the LGBTQ community, along with the commitments Brite has also made to Black Church studies, Asian/Korean Church studies, and Latina/o Church studies.  By vote of the Board of Trustees, Brite has officially acted to welcome students, faculty and staff regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or gender expression, making it unique in the Southwestern United States.  The roots of Brite’s shift toward this progressive stance reach back at least to 1992, when administration opened married student housing on the campus to partnered same-sex couples, and to the hiring of the first openly gay faculty member in 1994.

At a community conversation held immediately after the inauguration service, members of the Brite community voiced a whole bevy of vibrant ideas about the directions the Carpenter Initiative could take, including an institution-wide process to become Open and Affirming, a center for civil discourse on issues of human rights in North Texas, resources on homosexuality and the Bible, a history project to record and preserve the story of the LGBTQ movement on both the Brite and TCU campuses, and a think-tank to delve into the sources of violence and fear in American religious life.  Brite’s Office of Advancement is actively seeking support for the expansion of Brite’s developing leadership in public theology and social justice.

October 5, 2011 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, Asian Americans, Bisexual persons, Brite Divinity School, gay men, gender identity/expression, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, hate crimes prevention, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Homosexuality and the Bible, Latino and Latina Americans, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Native Americans, Popular Culture, Public Theology, Queer, Racism, religious hate speech, religious intolerance, Social Justice Advocacy, Texas, transgender persons, transphobia, women | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Gender, Sexuality, and Justice Initiative Launched in the Southwest

“Unfinished Lives” Centerpiece of Houston Gay Pride Month Events

Houston, Texas – Reviving the memories of LGBTQ hate crimes murder victims will be the focus of three Gay Pride Month events sponsored by two gay-predominant churches and a national transgender organization in the Houston metropolitan area during June.  Dr. Stephen Sprinkle, author of the ground-breaking book, Unfinished Lives, will present three programs on ways anti-gay hate violence must matter to everyone.  Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church, the largest-membership MCC in the world, and Cathedral of Hope Houston, a United Church of Christ congregation planted by CoH Dallas, the world’s largest gay congregation, and the Transgender Foundation of America are the sponsors for this series. All events (June 3, 10, and 17) are open to the public free of charge and will be held on the campus of Resurrection MCC, 2025 West 1tth Street, Houston, Texas 77008, beginning each evening with a light meal at 6:30 p.m.  Copies of his book will be on hand for purchase and signing by the author.

Over 13,000 LGBTQ Americans have been brutally murdered due to unreasoning hatred since the 1980s. Dr. Sprinkle, a seminary professor at Brite Divinity School, Fort Worth, Texas, wrote Unfinished Lives as a response to this crisis of violence.  His book, the only such volume in the English language, is a collection of first-hand stories of fourteen representative Americans who died because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. The questions it deals with are in the forefront of human rights advocacy: How could this decimation of neighbors, family, lovers, co-workers, and friends occur in the United States?  Why have the killings continued unabated since the enactment of the James Byrd Jr and Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act in 2009?  How are the suicides of young LGBTQ people and the murders of transpeople of color connected and related?  What must be done to stop the madness, to create communities of hope and tolerance, and to erase the hatred and transform the culture of violence that permits these horrors?  In the midst of these woeful aspects of American society, how do we find hope and create meaningful change?

Rev. Harry Knox, Senior Pastor of Resurrection MCC, says of these three events: “We are thrilled that Steve will be presenting three programs at Resurrection MCC beginning this Friday, June 3, and continuing on June 10 and June 17. Steve will share lessons he has learned about the root causes of hate violence and what we can do to prevent it in the future. I really hope you will consider giving three evenings to learning the stories Steve has to share with us and what we can do to make Houston safer and saner for us and for our children.”  

For further information on Session 1: Stories of Those We’ve Lost, and the other two sessions, please see the Facebook Events Page here, and the announcement in OutSmart Magazine – June 2011.  Dr. Sprinkle will also be preaching during Pride Month at Cathedral of Hope Houston, 4606 Mangum Road 77092, on Sunday, June 12, and at Resurrection MCC on Sunday, June 19.

June 2, 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, Book Tour, Brite Divinity School, Bullying in schools, Cathedral of Hope, Cathedral of Hope Houston, drowning, gay bashing, gay men, Gay Pride Month, gender identity/expression, Gender Variant Youth, GLBTQ, gun violence, Hanging, harassment, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, hate crimes prevention, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, Law and Order, Lesbian women, LGBT teen suicide prevention, LGBTQ, LGBTQ suicide, Matthew Shepard Act, Native Americans, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Politics, Queer, religious hate speech, religious intolerance, Remembrances, Resurrection MCC Houston, Slashing attacks, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, Strangulation, suicide, Texas, Torture and Mutilation, transgender persons, transphobia, Unfinished Lives Book Signings | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on “Unfinished Lives” Centerpiece of Houston Gay Pride Month Events

President Obama Officially Proclaims June 2011 “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month”

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 31, 2011

LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, AND TRANSGENDER PRIDE MONTH, 2011

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

The story of America’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community is the story of our fathers and sons, our mothers and daughters, and our friends and neighbors who continue the task of making our country a more perfect Union. It is a story about the struggle to realize the great American promise that all people can live with dignity and fairness under the law.  Each June, we commemorate the courageous individuals who have fought to achieve this promise for LGBT Americans, and we rededicate ourselves to the pursuit of equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Since taking office, my Administration has made significant progress towards achieving equality for LGBT Americans.  Last December, I was proud to sign the repeal of the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.  With this repeal, gay and lesbian Americans will be able to serve openly in our Armed Forces for the first time in our Nation’s history.  Our national security will be strengthened and the heroic contributions these Americans make to our military, and have made throughout our history, will be fully recognized.

My Administration has also taken steps to eliminate discrimination against LGBT Americans in Federal housing programs and to give LGBT Americans the right to visit their loved ones in the hospital.  We have made clear through executive branch nondiscrimination policies that discrimination on the basis of gender identity in the Federal workplace will not be tolerated. I have continued to nominate and appoint highly qualified, openly LGBT individuals to executive branch and judicial positions.  Because we recognize that LGBT rights are human rights, my Administration stands with advocates of equality around the world in leading the fight against pernicious laws targeting LGBT persons and malicious attempts to exclude LGBT organizations from full participation in the international system.  We led a global campaign to ensure “sexual orientation” was included in the United Nations resolution on extrajudicial execution — the only United Nations resolution that specifically mentions LGBT people — to send the unequivocal message that no matter where it occurs, state-sanctioned killing of gays and lesbians is indefensible.  No one should be harmed because of who they are or who they love, and my Administration has mobilized unprecedented public commitments from countries around the world to join in the fight against hate and homophobia.

At home, we are working to address and eliminate violence against LGBT individuals through our enforcement and implementation of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.  We are also working to reduce the threat of bullying against young people, including LGBT youth. My Administration is actively engaged with educators and community leaders across America to reduce violence and discrimination in schools.  To help dispel the myth that bullying is a harmless or inevitable part of growing up, the First Lady and I hosted the first White House Conference on Bullying Prevention in March. Many senior Administration officials have also joined me in reaching out to LGBT youth who have been bullied by recording “It Gets Better” video messages to assure them they are not alone.

This month also marks the 30th anniversary of the emergence of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, which has had a profound impact on the LGBT community.  Though we have made strides in combating this devastating disease, more work remains to be done, and I am committed to expanding access to HIV/AIDS prevention and care. Last year, I announced the first comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States.  This strategy focuses on combinations of evidence-based approaches to decrease new HIV infections in high risk communities, improve care for people living with HIV/AIDS, and reduce health disparities. My Administration also increased domestic HIV/AIDS funding to support the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program and HIV prevention, and to invest in HIV/AIDS-related research.  However, government cannot take on this disease alone.  This landmark anniversary is an opportunity for the LGBT community and allies to recommit to raising awareness about HIV/AIDS and continuing the fight against this deadly pandemic.

Every generation of Americans has brought our Nation closer to fulfilling its promise of equality.  While progress has taken time, our achievements in advancing the rights of LGBT Americans remind us that history is on our side, and that the American people will never stop striving toward liberty and justice for all.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2011 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month.  I call upon the people of the United States to eliminate prejudice everywhere it exists, and to celebrate the great diversity of the American people.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.

BARACK OBAMA

June 1, 2011 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, Asian Americans, Bisexual persons, Bullying in schools, Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT), gay men, Gay Pride Month, gay teens, gender identity/expression, Gender Variant Youth, GLBTQ, hate crimes prevention, HIV/AIDS, Housing Discrimination, It Gets Better Project (IGBP), Latino and Latina Americans, Legislation, Lesbian women, LGBT teen suicide prevention, LGBTQ, LGBTQ suicide, Matthew Shepard Act, Native Americans, President Barack Obama, Presidential Proclamation, Repeal of DADT, transgender persons, Washington, D.C. | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on President Obama Officially Proclaims June 2011 “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month”

President Signs DADT Repeal: What This Means for America’s LGBTQ Community

Washington, D.C. – In a breakthrough moment for the LGBTQ community, President Barack Obama signed the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell into law today.  The ceremony was held in the Interior Department to accommodate a large and emotional crowd of witnesses to the making of American history.  The meaning of this moment will unfold and grow over time.  But this much at least may be said now: LGBTQ Americans have moved one significant step closer to full equality because of this political victory.  The President noted that while the struggle to repeal DADT has gone on for nearly two decades, this day is a culmination of untold sacrifice and heroism on the part of LGBTQ servicemembers and their families for over 200 years.  From the American Revolution to the current Iraqi and Afghan conflicts, gay and lesbian patriots have fought for the freedoms they themselves have not fully known.  Most of their service has been hidden in the anonymity of history for obvious reasons.  To serve openly as gay was not tolerated in the American armed forces. The darker side of this history is the story of untold thousands who have been persecuted, harassed, harmed, and killed because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender presentation.  The Unfinished Lives Project and other efforts have sought to chronicle some of these stories: Army PFC Barry Winchell, Petty Officer Allen R. Schindler, Seaman August Provost, and Army veteran Michael Scott Goucher, to name but a few.  Not only have the battlefields of the world been consecrated with the blood of LGBTQ American servicemembers.  The closets of the military in all branches of the service are likewise battlegrounds stained with queer blood.  The signature of President Obama should not become a coda to their memory.  If anything, this moment should give the LGBTQ community added impetus to remember and honor our war dead–both on the battlefield of honor and on the battlefields of American prejudice.  This moment is fraught with religious and theological significance, as well.  Now that this landmark legislation for human rights and dignity is the law of the land, the recalcitrant majority of conservative military chaplains must choose to fulfill their pledge of service to all the nation’s soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and guardsmen. Human rights and dignity are a prophetic dimensions of all the advance theologies of the world since time immemorial, but the savage side of religion has often displaced God’s favor for all people with a purist extremism that honors neither God or country. The crucial choice now is in the lap of the fundamentalist military chaplaincy, who have discounted the good service of LGBTQ women and men for decades, and the religious righteousness of their chaplaincy peers who have embraced LGBTQ servicemembers as children of God.  It is time for the fundamentalist chaplains in the armed services, including the chiefs of chaplains in the Army, Navy, and Air Force to either salute smartly and comply with the law, or take their pensions and go.  The choice is theirs.  The moderate and progressive religious communities in this nation are faced with another type of challenge.  They must re-evaluate their stance toward military service, and remove institutional and ecclesial impediments to honorable service.  Seminaries on the theological left will need to open their doors for training the next generation of military chaplains.  For the LGBTQ community generally, the call of this day is to become a more mature and reasoned community among the peoples of this nation.  Nothing has changed for military servicemembers yet, nor will it for quite some time, until the law can be implemented throughout the armed forces.  There will be continued bias and discrimination against queer folk in the military by the military.  But LGBTQ people are now offered a renewed sense of who we are: strong, proud, sacrificial, patriotic, and peace-loving–all at the same time.  This is a red-letter day in American history, and a rainbow-colored day in the struggle for full LGBTQ equality.

December 22, 2010 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Bisexual persons, DADT, Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT), gay men, harassment, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, Legislation, Lesbian women, military, Military Chaplaincy, Native Americans, Politics, religious intolerance, Remembrances, Repeal of DADT, Social Justice Advocacy, Special Comments, transgender persons, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Marines, U.S. Navy, Washington, D.C. | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on President Signs DADT Repeal: What This Means for America’s LGBTQ Community

New Yorker Murders Boy Toddler “For Acting Like a Girl”

Pedro Jones, alleged infant killer, heads to court

Shinnecock Indian Reservation, outside Riverside, Long Island – A 20-year-old Southampton man is accused of killing his girlfriend’s toddler on August 1, 2010.  Pedro Jones, who was babysitting the 17-month-old tot, allegedly grabbed him by the neck and punched him repeatedly with his closed fist “to toughen him up,” the batterer said, in order to make the child “act like a boy and not a girl.” Roy Antonio Jones III, the victim (no relation to his assailant though they share the same surname), went into cardiac arrest and died as a result of his injuries late on Sunday evening. His mother, Vanessa Jones, had left her child in the care of her boyfriend to visit her cousin for about an hour, according to family sources.  Ms. Jones said that she had no knowledge that her lover had ever hit the baby before. Jones has been charged with first-degree manslaughter in the slaying, a charge that carries a maximum of 25 years in prison. He has pled not guilty to the charge, and is being held in Suffolk County Jail without bail.  NewsOneOriginal reports that Pedro Jones told police he had never hit the toddler “that hard before.”  “A one-time mistake and I am going to do 20 years,” he said.  Jones is not a member of the Shinnecock Nation as is the infant’s mother, whom the alleged killer said he intended to marry.  Her family hopes that Jones will receive a much harsher sentence than incarceration for 20 years.  The grandmother of the dead child confronted Jones who was in custody at Southampton Town Court, and shouted at him, “You killed my grandson! I hope you rot in hell!”  On Monday night, August 2, approximately 100 members of the Shinnecock Nation gathered to mourn the killing of the infant.  “People expressed the need to come together to love one another, to tighten the gap in our community so this doesn’t happen again,” Ms. Donna Collins-Smith, the great aunt of the victim, said to The Southampton Press. “Basically, we’re trying to come together as a family and do the best we can.”  The horror of this killing has shocked many around the nation.  Jones was apparently so irrationally irritated by behavior patterns in the tot he believed were effeminate that he took matters into his own hands to beat the girlishness out of him.  Because the victim was perceived to be gender-variant, the attack was a sexual hate crime according to many commentators. Michael Rowe wrote for the Huffington Post: “The beating death of 17-month-old Roy Jones was no less a hate crime because the victim was a baby. Whether he would have grown up to be gay, or transgender, or just a gentle, sweet-natured straight boy, was still many years away. More, it was irrelevant.”  As the Unfinished Lives Project has reported repeatedly, violent crimes against gender non-conforming people of color, especially young boys of color who present femininely, have reached alarming levels in our country. They are  among the most vulnerable members of our society, and are paying a terrible price for the irrational hatred of men (and some women!) who feel they must use violence to enforce heterosexist male stereotypes.  Baby Roy will never have a chance to show the world who he was becoming. Instead of making him socially acceptable in a hyper-masculine world, the man who said he loved the child, “loved” him to death.

August 12, 2010 Posted by | African Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Beatings and battery, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Mistaken as LGBT, Native Americans, New York, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, transgender persons, transphobia, Uncategorized, Vigils, women | , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on New Yorker Murders Boy Toddler “For Acting Like a Girl”

Dallas Marches to Remember Stonewall

Dallas, TX – Hundreds rallied and marched through the skyscraper canyons of Dallas Sunday night to remember the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion, and to fight for human rights.  The Stonewall Rebellion 41st Anniversary March and Rally formed at Founders Plaza near the famous JFK memorial, and marched though downtown Dallas, shouting “Harvey Milk was right/Come out of your closets and fight!”  Marchers from throughout North Texas, as well as contingents from Lubbock and Tyler filled the streets with the sounds of activism.  The route was chosen to maximize exposure to Dallasites throughout the downtown business and residential areas, and the sidewalks were lined with office workers, bus stop patrons, and café diners throughout the Main Street Corridor, even on a Sunday night.  Media including the Dallas Morning News and the Dallas Voice, as well as other media outlets covered the event.  Speakers including Jesse Garcia, C.D. Kirven, Michael Robinson, Nonnie Ouch, Rafael McDonnell, and Daniel Scott Cates gave powerful messages to the LGBTQ community as well as elected officials on the local, state and federal levels.  They called for the overthrow of DOMA, the repeal of DADT, passage of a transgender-inclusive ENDA bill, and full Marriage Equality.  The Rainbow Lounge Raid in Fort Worth last year was a continuing theme of the evening as well.  Dr. Renee Baker of Youth First Texas called on marchers to support LGBTQ youth, especially in view of how vulnerable they are.  Keynote speaker, Dr. Stephen Sprinkle, professor at Fort Worth’s Brite Divinity School, and Director of the Unfinished Lives Project, summed up the speeches with a call to remember Stonewall and act to expand human rights not only for the LGBTQ community, but also for other minorities, as well.  Responding to the noisy Religious Right protestors who kept berating Rally attendees with loud preaching and scripture proof texting, Dr. Sprinkle reminded them that “whoever says they love God and hate their brothers and sisters is a liar, and the truth is not in them!”  Spencer Young gave a moving testimony to those who have died violently at the hands of hatred and homophobia during the concluding Vigil portion of the program.  He recounted the story of Nicolas West, murdered in Tyler in 1993 because he was gay.  Tyler, he reported, has no memorial to West, who was shot multiple times by his murderers and left to die in a clay pit outside of town.  But the Tyler community, where traditional values and negative attitudes toward LGBT people has predominated in the past, staged “The Laramie Project” in West’s honor, giving him a living memorial through the famous stage play recounting the aftermath of Matthew Shepard’s murder in Laramie, Wyoming.

June 28, 2010 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Bisexual persons, DOMA, Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT), ENDA, gay men, gay teens, gun violence, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, Lesbian women, LGBT teen suicide prevention, Marriage Equality, Native Americans, Politics, Protests and Demonstrations, Rainbow Lounge Raid, religious hate speech, religious intolerance, Remembrances, Social Justice Advocacy, Texas, transgender persons, transphobia, Vigils | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Dallas Marches to Remember Stonewall

For Courageous Mothers of LGBT Murder Victims, There is No Closure

Pat and Lynn Mulder at USF, Stephen Coddington photo for the Times

Pat and Lynn Mulder at USF, Stephen Coddington photo for the Times

Families of LGBT hate crimes murder victims are on the front lines of grief and loss when a homophobic attack takes the life of someone they love.  This is especially true of their mothers.  That powerful truth was driven home for me again by learning of Pat and Lynn Mulder’s courageous appearance at the Hate Crimes Awareness Summit held this week at the University of South Florida.  Pat shared the story of how her beloved son, Ryan Keith Skipper, lived and died at the hands of brutal, anti-gay attackers in rural Polk County Florida on March 14, 2007.  The popular 25-year-old Skipper was stabbed over 19 times, and left to bleed out on a lonely dirt road in Wahneta, a rural town in the Winter Haven region. One of his murderers, Joseph “Smiley” Bearden has been sentenced to life without parole earlier this year, and a second alleged killer, William D. “Bill Bill” Brown is to stand trial on October 12.  Reporting on the Summit, Alexandra Zayas of the St. Petersburg Times, relates how Pat had to overcome her reluctance and nervousness about speaking in front of crowds about the worst tragedy in her family’s history.  “The worst thing in the world that can happen to you has already happened. There’s nothing else to be afraid of.”  Speaking with passion and the conviction that no family should ever have to endure what hers has, Pat and her husband Lynn have tirelessly reached out to others bereaved by unreasoning hatred.  Barely a year after her son’s murder, Pat traveled to Fort Lauderdale to see Denise King, mother of African American youth Simmie Williams, Jr., who was shot for being transgender by attackers who have not yet been identified or apprehended.  At at town hall meeting dedicated to the memory of 17-year-old Williams, Pat introduced herself to Mrs. King as Ryan’s mother, and enfolded her in an embrace that King later said was deeply meaningful to her.  Speaking to the Times about that moment, Pat said, “It’s beyond being women. It’s beyond being different races, different backgrounds. It has nothing to do with that. It’s the hearts of two mothers,” Pat said. “For a moment, there’s someone who’s helping you hold up your pain.”  The real unsung heroes of the effort to win passage of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act are women like Pat Mulder and Denise King who became “accidental activists” for the sake of their children who died so senselessly.  Elke Kennedy, mother of Greenville, SC victim, Sean William Kennedy, Pauline Mitchell, mother of Navajo two-spirit son, F.C. Martinez, Jr. of Cortez, CO, Pat Kuteles, mother of U.S. Army Pvt. Barry Winchell, murdered at Fort Campbell, KY, Kathy Jo Gaither, sister of Sylacauga, AL victim Bill Joe Gaither, and, certainly, Judy Shepard of Casper, WY who is currently touring the nation to promote passage of the LGBT hate crimes bill named for her son Matthew, are but a few outstanding examples of women whose love overcame untold obstacles to add their voices to the chorus of Americans, gay and straight, who want anti-queer violence to come to an end forever.  These courageous women and many other family members around the nation have become the most effective spokespersons for human rights because of their unsought-for mission to stamp out hate from the American vocabulary for all people, especially LGBTQ folk who are so much at risk.  How do mothers do it?  Pat Mulder says that for parents of gay murder victims, there is no closure, only the determination to turn up the volume on what hate crimes do to families.

Sprinkle in FL 08

~ Stephen Sprinkle for the Unfinished Lives Project

September 25, 2009 Posted by | African Americans, Alabama, Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Colorado, DADT, Florida, gay men, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Kentucky, Latino and Latina Americans, Legislation, Lesbian women, Matthew Shepard Act, military, Native Americans, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Social Justice Advocacy, South Carolina, transgender persons, Wyoming | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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