Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Happy Rosh Hashanah from Unfinished Lives

HappyNewYear

Dallas, Texas – From the Unfinished Lives Project Team, we wish you and your family a Shana Tova U’Metukah, a very sweet new year!  May the sound of the ram’s horn (shofar) call us all to a new era of justice and peace, where no one need dread to be who they are, nor fear to love whom they love!  May the best of the past year be the worst of the coming year for you and yours!

September 4, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Happy Rosh Hashanah from Unfinished Lives

Savage Anti-Gay Murder in NYC Highlights Increasing Danger for LGBT People

Mark Carson, 32, openly gay man shot to death in the face in NYC (Gay Star News photo).

Mark Carson, 32, openly gay NYC man fatally shot in the face (Gay Star News photo).

New York City, New York – A gay man shot to death at point blank range early Saturday morning became the fifth anti-gay hate crime to strike fear into Gotham City in recent weeks.  Mark Carson, 32, an openly gay yogurt shop worker from Brooklyn, who was walking with a companion in Greenwich Village, faced his harasser, who taunted his victim with homophobic slurs before fatally shooting him in the face, saying “You want to die here tonight?”.  The assailant was collared in a matter of a few blocks by a police officer who had the description of the shooter.  The officer seized the murder weapon along with the suspect.  Elliot Morales, 33, is in the custody of the NYPD, charged with second degree murder as a hate crime, and is being held in jail without bail.

After being goaded by a series of previous gay bashings in Midtown Manhattan in the Madison Square Garden area, some involving Knicks fans in full team attire, the LGBTQ and Allied community in the greater NYC metro area has erupted into angry, frightened protests.  The Associated Press reports that thousands took to the streets on Monday to cry out against Carson’s murder, making this the most powerful demonstration of anti-hate crime street activism since the days of Matthew Shepard, fourteen years ago. NYC Council Speaker, Christine Quinn, marched arm in arm with Edie Windsor, the key plaintiff in the case for Marriage Equality now before the Supreme Court of the United States.  Emotions on a spectrum from disbelief that such a brazen crime could occur in the City, through towering rage against the cold-blooded killing of a defenseless gay man in the heart of the most tolerant neighborhood in New York, to abject fear that the streets of the city are unsafe to walk openly for gay people.  Carson fell just blocks from the site of the birth of the Gay Rights Movement during the famous Stonewall Riots of 1969.

Morales, the alleged shooter, once charged with attempted murder in 1998, was filled with “homophobic glee,” laughing as he confessed to police that he pulled the trigger on Carson, according to the New York Daily News.   Morales was seen just 15 minutes before the attack, publicly urinating outside an upscale Greenwich Village restaurant beside the storied Stonewall Inn.  Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly candidly commented to the press that Carson had done nothing to antagonize his assailant, according to USA Today.  “It’s clear that the victim here was killed only because and just because he was thought to be gay,” Commissioner Kelly said.

The Daily News speculates that Morales’s homophobia had been ignited by the way Carson, a proud, out gay man, was dressed–in a tank top with cut off shorts and boots.  Prosecutors say that Morales shouted at Carson and his friend, “Hey, you faggots!  You look like gay wrestlers!”  According to his family, Carson was happy, well-adjusted, and loved the West Village where he met his death .  “He was a courageous person,” Carson’s brother, Michael Bumpars, said. “My brother was a beautiful person.”  

Makeshift shrine at the spot Mark Carson was shot to death in West Village.

Makeshift shrine at the spot Mark Carson was shot to death in West Village.

Naïve pundits have said that the increasing visibility and political success of LGBT people to gain mainstream acceptance have ushered in a new era of queer acceptance in American life.  Some have even declared the “victory” of the gay rights movement.  Such self-congratulations are premature.  Carson’s brazen murder by a totally unapologetic homophobe, coupled with the rash of LGBT youth suicides in schools across the nation, and reports of skyrocketing statistics of violence against transgender people of color, are giving the lie to the notion that the United States is safe for queer folk.  Some are now reversing their previous opinions, calling the violence evidence of a “backlash” against the recent success of Marriage Equality in New England, New York, the District of Columbia, and Minnesota.  Though New York State made same-sex marriage legal in 2011, NYC Police Commissioner Kelly revealed that though last year’s bias-crimes against LGBT people in the city numbered 13, the total now stands at 22 and counting.

June is Gay Pride Month in New York City.  Nerves are frayed.  Top city officials, politicians, and police top brass are scrambling to make this year’s celebration in Greenwich Village and around town safe.  New York City has earned the reputation of being the cradle of queer tolerance, and Mayor Bloomberg obviously wants to keep it that way.  Yet the violence in the streets of New York, now turned ominously fatal with Mark Carson’s grisly murder, may be a bellwether for things to come throughout the nation.  Morales, the alleged shooter, laughed and joked that he was proud to terrorize the LGBT community.  Foes of gay equality may be on the back foot because of the rapid acceptance of gay, lesbian, transgender, and bisexual people, particularly by younger Americans.  But homophobic, irrational hatred, the sort that maims and kills, has by no means gone away.  Nor does this recent spate of violence suggest a “backlash.”  When 38 states have written homophobia into their constitutions, or bolstered anti-gay statutes, this outbreak of harm can hardly be seen as anything but good, old fashioned American bigotry.  The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects (NCAVP) is closely monitoring events in New York and around the nation.  They advise non-confrontational efforts to diffuse potentially dire situations of violence.  Yet, the queer community has come too far to go back into the closet ever again.  To do so would dishonor the hopes, loves, and courage of openly gay men like Mark Carson.  Sharon Stapel, NCAVP’s executive director, said that these events must be understood in the context of a nation where basic equality is still denied to LGBT people. Her message to New York’s  gay community? “We want to give people tools that can de-escalate situations but also say, ‘You need to be yourself,'” Stapel said to ABC News. “We’re not telling people, ‘Take your rainbow sticker off.'”

May 21, 2013 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Bullying in schools, Christine Quinn, gay bashing, gay men, gay teens, GLBTQ, gun violence, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, LGBTQ suicide, Marriage Equality, National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), New York, New York City, Protests and Demonstrations, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, Stonewall, Stonewall Inn, transgender persons, transphobia, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Savage Anti-Gay Murder in NYC Highlights Increasing Danger for LGBT People

Anti-Gay “Conversion Camp” Allegedly Tortures Effeminate Teenage Boy to Death

Raymond Buys, 15, near death from the ravages of an anti-gay conversion camp.

Raymond Buys, 15, near death from the ravages of an anti-gay conversion camp.

Johannesburg, South Africa – “Man Up or Die.”  That is the way an international human rights advocate characterizes the philosophy of an ex-gay conversion camp radically committed to “beating the gay” out of boys with “feminine traits.”  South African born activist, Melanie Nathan reports in her blog that 15-year-old Raymond Buys died as a consequence of torture and starvation allegedly imposed on him at a three-month “training course” at Echo Wild Game Rangers Camp, located an hour south of Johannesburg.  Esteemed British newspaper, The Telegraph, confirms that Buys is one of three young men whose deaths are being blamed on Alex de Koker, 49, Echo Wild’s director, and his accomplice, Michael Erasmus, 20.  Both of the accused are in custody awaiting trial under charges of “murder, child abuse and neglect, along with two cases of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm in relation to Mr Buys’ death.” Scott De Buitléir, a blogger for Elie, reports that de Koker has claimed to be innocent of the charges.

Young Mr. Buys, who suffered from a learning disability, was sent to Echo Wild to help him become more masculine by his mother, Wilna Buys, in January 2011.  His mother says she spoke to her son three times during the training camp, allowed to speak with him only on speakerphone so their conversation could be monitored.  De Koker claimed young Buys was “self-harming.”  When his mother asked him to explain what prompted his self-injuries, the youth denied that he was doing these things to himself, as she later told the court.  It remains unclear why Mrs. Buys did not act at that time to withdraw her child from the training course, an expensive proposition at $2,000 per month. Two months into the three-month-long course, which turned out to be a full blown ex-gay, reparative therapy boot camp, Mr. Buys lay dying in hospital.  He allegedly had been beaten until his arm was broken multiple times, electrocuted with a taser-like device, chained to his bed and not released to use a bathroom, starved until he was severely dehydrated and emaciated, forced to eat his own feces and laundry detergent, and hit until his skull was cracked and his brain was damaged.  Hospital officials told that he had a “zero chance” of survival. Within two weeks, The Telegraph reports, the teenager died.  “My child was a skeleton,” Mrs. Buys told the Vereeniging District Court. ”He had head injuries and torn ears, there were bruises on his face and arms and cigarette burns on his body.”

Two other young men, 25-year-old Erich Calitz and Nicolas Van Der Walt, 19, also died of brain injuries allegedly inflicted at the camp, according to the Huffington Post.  Alex de Koker, also the chief suspect in the deaths of Mr. Calitz and Mr. Van Der Walt, had reassured Mrs. Buys that he could help her boy become a man and find a good job in the wildlife service.  De Koker’s ties to a rightwing white supremacist homophobic group called the AWB/Iron Guards movement are being investigated.

The sexual orientation of the three young victims of these heinous anti-gay crimes has never been definitively established.  But, as Melanie Nathan points out, any young man who exhibits “feminine characteristics” in Afrikaans culture is considered to be a “moffie,” an epithet akin to “faggot.”  Ms. Nathan explains, “The idea of the [Echo Wild] camp is to apparently make men of teens and to ‘cure’  ‘feminine traits’ in male youths…another way of saying gay reparative therapy, instead in this instance that therapy involved ‘beating the gay out of the kid’– torture, and if torture didn’t effect the desired change, then certainly murder would; after all a dead teen is not a gay teen.” 

Mrs. Buys told The Telegraph, “I trusted Alex de Koker with the life of my child.”  Whether wittingly or unwittingly, she turned her son over to a virulently, homophobic group for a “cure.”  And it cost the boy his life.

May 1, 2013 Posted by | Anti-Gay Hate Groups, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, AWB/Iron Guards Movement, Beatings and battery, Burning and branding, Ex-gay conversion camp, gay teens, gender identity/expression, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, South Africa, Torture and Mutilation, Uncategorized, White supremacist groups | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gay America and Martin Luther King Jr.: Why LGBTQ Equality Is His Unfinished Agenda

mlkflag-719751Atlanta, Georgia – In the Sweet Auburn neighborhood of Atlanta, where Martin Luther King Jr. and his family launched an activist Christian movement that changed the world, preparations are in full swing for the national holiday that bears his memory.  What about Dr. King’s legacy and the human rights struggle today?  Would Dr. King consider the lives and liberties of LGBTQ people his own unfinished business?

During his own lifetime, Dr. King’s record of public support for gay and lesbian people in his own movement was neither courageous nor even positive.  Dr. King, for example, often considered Bayard Rustin, the gay, Quaker activist who proved indispensable to the organization of the 1963 March on Washington, to be a liability to his movement.  The New Civil Rights Movement relates how Rustin was smuggled out of Montgomery, Alabama during the 1956 Bus Boycott with the assent of MLK because Rustin was thought to be a liability to King, the nascent movement, and other African American civil rights leaders. Commenting on the documentary film, Brother Outsider, made to advance Rustin’s legacy, his life partner, Walter Naegle wrote: “A master strategist and tireless activist, Bayard Rustin is best remembered as the organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, one of the largest nonviolent protests ever held in the United States. He brought Gandhi’s protest techniques to the American civil rights movement, and helped mold Martin Luther King, Jr. into an international symbol of peace and nonviolence.  Despite these achievements,” Naegle went on to say, “Rustin was silenced, threatened, arrested, beaten, imprisoned and fired from important leadership positions, largely because he was an openly gay man in a fiercely homophobic era.”  According to Rev. Irene Monroe, an African American lesbian who writes for the Huffington Post, Rustin once offered to resign rather than be seen as a liability to the movement.  She notes that King did not refuse Rustin’s offer, saying of Rustin and another gay associate, “I can’t take on two queers at one time.”  Surely, Bayard Rustin and other faithful workers in the non-violent civil rights movement deserved better.

Liberal Christian leaders disagree on whether Martin Luther King Jr. would have evolved into a human rights advocate, had he lived. Irene Monroe is convinced that he would not, fearing the loss of support in the Black Church. Paul Brandeis Raushenbush thinks that King would have eventually become an outspoken ally of gays and lesbians.  Raushenbush, heir to the mantle of his ancestor’s leadership as a progressive Christian, argues as Senior Editor for Religion in the Huffington Post that King’s attitude toward LGBTQ people, while drawing major aspects of the anti-gay ideology of his day, was surprisingly temperate.  Contemporaries among black and white ministers, such as Rev. Adam Clayton Powell and Rev. Billy Graham, were decidedly more negative toward “homosexuals” than Dr. King.

Mrs. Coretta Scott King [Equality Matters image]

Mrs. Coretta Scott King [Equality Matters image]

King’s own family is divided over the question, as well.  His niece, Alveda King, and his youngest and only surviving child, Rev. Bernice King, strongly deny that he would have supported the LGBTQ rights movement in any form.  In 2004, the cousins marched together in an Atlanta demonstration against same-sex marriage and gay rights. But King’s now-deceased widow, Mrs. Coretta Scott King, unequivocally affirmed that her martyred husband would have championed the rights of all people, including those of LGBTQ people.  In a famous remark made near to the 30th anniversary of the death of Dr. King, Mrs. King asserted, “I still hear people say that I should not be talking about the rights of lesbian and gay people and I should stick to the issue of racial justice.  But I hasten to remind them that Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’  I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream to make room at the table of brother- and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people.”

Mrs. King understood that in order for her late husband’s dream to remain vital over the passage of the years, it had to be made relevant to the emerging struggles of modern oppressed minorities.  She, more than anyone else, reveals the genius of Dr. King’s Beloved Community: every generation enlarges it with new citizens of a freer, better, more perfect union.  With uncommon perception and insight, Mrs. King said to the audience at the 25th Anniversary Luncheon of the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, “Gays and lesbians stood up for civil rights in Montgomery, Selma, in Albany, Georgia, and St. Augustine, Florida, and many other campaigns of the Civil Rights Movement.  Many of these courageous men and women were fighting for my freedom at a time when they could find few voices for their own.”  Speaking vicariously for her husband, Mrs. King concluded, “And I salute their contributions.” 

As Mrs. King perceived and advocated, the struggle her husband gave his life to pursue runs parallel to the LGBTQ rights movement.  Racial justice, world peace, justice for workers and the poor, and the cause of non-violence are all still unrequited in the world today, and are the continuing responsibility of the Civil Rights Movement.  But as surely as her husband championed the cause of social change for the betterment of all, LGBTQ equality is just as surely Dr. King’s legacy and unfinished business.

Happy MLK Day from the Unfinished Lives Project Team!

January 21, 2013 Posted by | African Americans, Bayard Rustin, Civil Rights Movement, Coretta Scott King, Georgia, GLBTQ, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Social Justice Advocacy, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Searching for LGBTQ Justice this Christmas 2012

"Magi," J.C. Leyendecker, 1900.

“Magi,” J.C. Leyendecker, 1900.

“We three kings of Orient are
Bearing gifts we traverse afar.
Field and fountain, moor and mountain,
Following yonder star.

“O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect Light.”

When the Reverend John Henry Hopkins Jr. wrote the lyrics for the universally loved, “We Three Kings,” in 1857, the term “homosexual” had not yet been coined, and would not be for another twelve years.  We know now that “homosexuality” was a socially created term, invented by European social scientists in the latter 19th century to describe a new species of person.  “Homosexuals” were a problem on the scene of the Industrial Revolution.  Men (especially, at the time) were singled out and scrutinized because they were not procreating, adding children to the labor forces of the era that manned the “dark Satanic mills” of Northern and Western Europe and the United States.  From the invention of homosexuality by the medico-political regimes of the age, gay men and lesbians were problems society had to examine, quarantine, and cure.  So, there never was a time that “homosexuality” as a term was not biased against the humanity and dignity of same-sex loving people.

Christmas 2012 offers us a stunning perspective of change.  In Europe, even as Pope Benedict XVI inveighs against gay relationships, much of the continent has embraced its LGBTQ citizens and secured their rights to live and love as the fully worthy human beings they always have been.  In the United States, major strides have been taken against anti-LGBTQ hate crimes, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell has been fully repealed, allowing fully open service in the U.S. military by LGBTQ servicepeople, and this election cycle has brought the election of the first openly lesbian U.S. Senator (Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisconsin), three new states that have made same-sex marriage legal (Maryland, Maine, and Washington), and, for the first time, a state has refused to enact anti-LGBTQ bias into a state constitution by a public referendum (Minnesota).  But, on the other hand, the murder of LGBTQ people has never been higher, tensions across the nation concerning upcoming Supreme Court rulings on Prop 8 and the constitutionality of DOMA are mounting, and there is no comprehensive federal protection for LGBTQ persons in the labor force.  What are we to make of this moment in the struggle for human rights and full equality, then?

President Barack Obama who came out publicly for marriage equality in May 2012 said in an interview with Pink News“One of the things that I’m very proud of during my first four years is I think I’ve helped to solidify this incredibly rapid transformation in people’s attitudes around LGBT issues — how we think about gays and lesbians and transgender persons.” We are engaged in changing the minds of our fellow citizens about who LGBTQ people are, as the President suggests.  Instead of being a suspicious “species,” a variation of some straight ideal for human kind, we are neighbors, friends, relatives, loved ones, co-workers–in other words, everyday people as worthy of respect and acknowledgement as anyone else.  And, as the President says, we are closer to changing the collective American mind in this direction than ever. Speaking of his own daughters, President Obama said, “You know, Malia and Sasha, they have friends whose parents are same-sex couples. There have been times where Michelle and I have been sitting around the dinner table and we’re talking about their friends and their parents and Malia and Sasha, it wouldn’t dawn on them that somehow their friends’ parents would be treated differently. It doesn’t make sense to them and frankly, that’s the kind of thing that prompts a change in perspective.”  Looking back across the last four years of his presidency, Mr. Obama observed that the United States is “steadily become a more diverse and tolerant country.
There’s been the occasional backlash, and this is not to argue that somehow racism or sexism or homophobia are going to be eliminated or ever will be eliminated,” he went on to say. “It is to argue that our norms have changed in a way that prizes inclusion more than exclusion.”  

Magi, and activists, and clergy, and just plain people of good conscience still seek the Light of justice for LGBTQ people in this country and around the world. As we lean forward toward Bethlehem this Christmas season, may the searchers find courage in each other, and in the power of an idea whose time has come.

Merry Christmas to the Friends and Fans of Unfinished Lives!

December 22, 2012 Posted by | Christmas, DOMA, Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT), Employment discrimination, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, Marriage Equality, Pope Benedict XVI, President Barack Obama, Social Justice Advocacy, transgender persons, transphobia, U.S. Supreme Court, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Searching for LGBTQ Justice this Christmas 2012

Happy Hanukkah 2012: Hope in the Unlikeliest of Places

chanukah_lightsTo you and yours from the Unfinished Lives Project Team, sincere wishes for a Happy Hanukkah!  This year, the Jewish Festival of Lights begins at sundown on Saturday, December 8, and concludes at sunset on Sunday, December 16.  There is a natural connection between the story and values of Hanukkah, and the hopes of LGBTQ people around the world for freedom and full equality.

For one thing, Hanukkah symbolizes the successful fight for freedom.  It is the remembrance of the rebellion of Matathias and his sons (the Maccabees) against Antiochus, the Syrian tyrant of the Greek Empire, in 168 BCE. Jews expelled the Syrians from Jerusalem and reclaimed the Holy Temple.  The struggle for LGBTQ human rights began with a rebellion of sorts, too, in the streets and gay bars of Greenwich Village, New York City, in late June 1969.  The freedom we seek may be a long time coming, Hanukkah teaches us, but it is coming, indeed.

Another Hanukkah value LGBTQ people and allies should cherish is that hope springs up in the unlikeliest of circumstances, and often looks insignificant at the time. In that respect, Hanukkah shares a common theme of hope with the celebration of Christmas. Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, in a FOX News interview, said recently: “While Hanukkah is not the Jewish Christmas, each tells a story of finding greater hope and salvation than one could reasonably expect, and of doing so in the most unlikely of places. Whether in a little jar of oil that lasted longer than it should have or through a newborn baby delivered in a Bethlehem, we are reminded that good things do come in very small packages when we open our eyes and our hearts enough.”

When LGBTQ people work for justice FOR ANYONE, they are carrying out the central message of Hanukkah, whether they realize it or not. Rabbi Hirschfield went on to say: “One could certainly argue that the most important Hanukkah practices are whatever acts help us find the light in our lives and in our world, empower us to help others do the same, and celebrate those moments when we have done so. Hanukkah really is an amazing holiday – one that testifies to peoples’ ability to create light where there is darkness, bring hope when most despair, and not only await the future, but create it.”

Hasten the coming of the Light!  We who believe in Justice cannot rest.  We who believe in Justice cannot rest until it comes…Happy Hanukkah!

December 8, 2012 Posted by | GLBTQ, Hanukkah, LGBTQ, Remembrances, Social Justice Advocacy, Uncategorized | , , , , | Comments Off on Happy Hanukkah 2012: Hope in the Unlikeliest of Places

Murdered African American Woman Remains Unidentified–Was She Lesbian?

“Jane Doe,” as rendered by Ellis County’s Sheriff’s Office, along with photos of tattoo markings on her decomposed body.

Ellis County, Texas – The decomposing corpse of an African American woman was discovered in a rural, wooded area of Ellis County on Monday, July 23. Get Equal Texas is organizing a massive campaign to identify her, and to seek out the person or persons who took her life. In a press release dated July 31, Get Equal states on its Facebook page: “She is approximately 5’4 inches tall and weighing approximately 115 pounds. She is believed to be of African-American heritage. She was wearing a black or dark gray tank top, blue jean shorts and white Nike tennis shoes with purple shoe laces. It is believed she may have disappeared on or after the early afternoon of July 17, 2012.”  The Ellis County Sheriff’s Office has released a forensic artist’s best guess about the likeness of “Jane Doe,” along with photographs of tattoo markings on her corpse.

Sheriff’s Department Investigator Joe Fitzgerald reported to the Dallas Voice that “Jane Doe” had connections to Dallas and Irving, and was probably a member of the LGBTQ community. Tell-tale trauma evidence on the corpse indicates she was murdered at another location and then brought out to the Ellis County woodlands, a desolate stretch of sparsely populated countryside south of Dallas. “Someone killed her and threw her to the side of the road,” Fitzgerald said. He went on to say that investigators were disturbed that no missing person’s report has described a woman with the characteristics of the deceased.

C.D. Kirven, well-respected activist and member of Get Equal’s Board, said, “If this was a lesbian woman, this makes a third lesbian woman of color brutally attacked in Texas within a month’s time. As a member of the LGBT community and a woman of color, this is not just an attack on this woman but on me and others in my community.” 

Examiner.com draws a possible connection with the brutal murder and assault on two lesbian teenagers of Latin descent earlier in the summer on the Texas Gulf Coast. Mollie Olgin, 19, died of a gunshot to the head in a Portland, Texas State Park.  Her girlfriend, Mary Kristene Chapa, 18, survived her wounds, and has recently been discharged from hospital to recover and rehabilitate. Noting that police have still arrested no one for the attack on Olgin and Chapa, the Examiner post goes on to speculate:  “It very well could be that all three of these violent crimes are related. This is why a warning should go out in the Texas area for it seems that our gay sisters are becoming targets for dangerous individuals whether the police wish to admit to this insight or not.” The post goes on to call upon all members of the LGBTQ community to assist in spreading the artist’s sketch of the Ellis County “Jane Doe” and to warn women to be on their guard for a killer or killers of lesbian women of color still at large in Texas.

“The anonymous nature of this killing demands an all-out effort on the part of the LGBTQ community in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex to recover the identity of this woman whose death is the very definition of an ‘unfinished life,'” said Stephen Sprinkle, Founder and Director of the Unfinished Lives Project, which tells the stories of little known or forgotten LGBTQ hate crimes murder victims.

Officer Fitzgerald asks anyone with information on the identity of the victim or the circumstances of her death to call the Ellis County Sheriff’s Department at 972-825-4928. 

August 1, 2012 Posted by | African Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, GET EQUAL Texas, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, Lesbian teens, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Social Justice Advocacy, Texas, Uncategorized, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Lesbian Teen Couple’s Attacker Shown in Police Sketch: Breaking News from South Texas

Police sketch of lesbian teen couple’s attacker.

Portland, Texas – A police sketch of the attacker who killed a lesbian teen and left another gravely wounded was released to the press late on July 4, according to MSNBC and the Dallas Voice. The lesbian teen couple, Mollie Olgin and Mary Chapa, were shot sometime after midnight on June 9 at Violent Andrews Park in Portland, Texas. Olgin, 19, was pronounced dead at the scene.  Chapa, 18, remains under hospital care at this time.

The suspect’s likeness was developed by an unidentified witness, and according to the Portland Police Department is an Anglo male in his 20s, 5 feet eight inches tall, 140 pounds, and is described as “skinny.” Chapa, who survived the attack, has not been interviewed by police investigators because of the seriousness of her medical condition. At this point, the department is still investigating Olgin’s murder as a general homicide, and Chapa’s attack as an aggravated assault.

Police have been at pains to downplay any connection between anti-gay bias and the crimes.  LGBTQ community members have up until this point maintained a “wait-and-see” position, but remain guardedly skeptical. While Police Chief Randy Wright says that there is no evidence of a hate crime in this case, no robbery or sexual assault motive has been suggested in this brutal attack, either. As Wayne Besen, founder of Truth Wins Out, says in The Advocate, whenever LGBTQ people are killed or attacked with no announced motive, anti-gay bias must be considered a “top-tier” motive for the crime. Besen, who traveled to Portland for a recent vigil, does not mince words when it comes to the responsibility of local police to pursue hate as a trigger for this attack.

MSNBC reports that the couple, lovers for approximately five months at the time of the attack, had planned to spend time together at the popular park before going out for a movie on the night  before their bodies were discovered below an observation deck in tall grass. Witnesses said that they heard two loud cracks around midnight on that night, but did not report it since they believed the noises were firecrackers. Several people were in the area on the evening of June 9, and police have been questioning them as potential witnesses.

July 5, 2012 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, gay teens, GLBTQ, gun violence, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Texas, Truth Wins Out, Uncategorized, Unsolved LGBT Crimes, Vigils | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Curing What is Wrong with America – An Independence Day 2012 Meditation

J.C. Leyendecker, “Statue of Liberty”

Dallas, Texas – A sincere wish for joy. equality, and prosperity from the Unfinished Lives Project Team to you and yours this Independence Day, July 4th, 2012. “There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.”  ~William J. Clinton, 42nd President of the United States of America

July 2, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Comments Off on Curing What is Wrong with America – An Independence Day 2012 Meditation

Memorial Day 2012: Let There Be Peace on Earth…

From the Unfinished Lives Project Team: Our sincerest wishes for a good Memorial Day to you all, and our deepest thanks to ALL service members for the sacrifices you make for the sake of Freedom and Justice.

May 27, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Comments Off on Memorial Day 2012: Let There Be Peace on Earth…

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