Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Anti-LGBTQ Violence Spikes Beyond 2,000 Incidents in 2013, Says Report

Makeshift shrine at the location of the murder of Mark Carson, 32, shot in the head for being gay, NYC, on May 20, 2013 (AFP photo).

Makeshift shrine at the location of the murder of Mark Carson, 32, shot in the head for being gay, NYC, on May 20, 2013 (AFP photo).

New York, New York – Violence against LGBTQ people soared beyond 2,000 reported incidents in 2013, according the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs.  Statistics released in the NCAVP annual report on Thursday showed queer folk living at the intersection of homophobia and other forms of discrimination such as race, gender, and citizenship status are most at risk of being targeted for harm in the United States.

The Advocate reports that the level of violence remains consistent with 2012’s statistics, varying little in either direction–still registering one of the highest numbers of anti-LGBTQ violent crimes since the NCAVP has kept records.  For example, though the number of murders of LGBTQ people fell to 18 reported homicides in 2013 from the all-time high of 25 in 2012, those most likely to die because of their sexual orientation, gender expression, or gender identity were people of color and transgender women.  89 percent of the victims were people of color, and 72 percent were transgender women.  “What emerges clearly in the findings of this year’s report is that many of the people at risk for the most severe hate violence are at the intersection of multiple forms of oppression and discrimination including racism and citizenship status,” said Aaron Eckhardt of the Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Region.  “Anti-LGBTQ hate violence can no longer be viewed in isolation from other forms of violence that our community members are experiencing based on their identities.”

Generally speaking, the NCAVP Report shows:

  • A substantial increase in the severity of the violence reported against LGBTQ people
  • Transgender people, especially transgender women, undocumented people, racial and ethnic minority people, and gay men face the most savage violence
  • Transgender women, people of color, and gay men face the greatest risk of hate crime murder
  • While danger from bias driven violence is still a public matter for many, occurring in the streets of our cities, other places once thought to be “safe” have begun to show alarming increases in attacks, such as private residences, workplaces, and shelters
  • Fewer victims of anti-LGBTQ violence are reporting crimes to the police, and those who do report increased hostility toward them by the very law enforcement organizations pledged to protect them

On this final alarming finding, Christopher Argyros of the Anti-Violence Project of the Los Angeles LGBT Center says, “For some of our most impacted communities, especially transgender people and transgender people of color, the hostility and violence faced at the hands of the police [when they do report crimes] is at an alarming level.”  

These statistics should be read in the context of a severe undercount of bias driven violent crimes against all those living at the intersection of anti-LGBTQ and other minority forms of discrimination.  Every agency and expert charged with reporting the number of hate crimes against the queer community in the United States, including the FBI, acknowledges that the statistics on report are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the actual experiences of violence against LGBTQ people.  For example, the current NCAVP annual report, Hate Violence Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and HIV-Affected Communities in the United States in 2013, recognized as the most comprehensive snapshot of anti-LGBTQ violence in existence, is based on data from no more than 14 anti-violence programs in 13 states across the country and Puerto Rico. States reporting were: Ohio, Illinois, Colorado, California, Michigan, Massachusetts, New York, Vermont, Kansas, Missouri, Texas, Minnesota, and Arizona. Reportage is voluntary, with many law enforcement organizations neglecting to report anything, either from bias, apathy, lack of funds to do so, or a combination of these passive aggressive motives.

May 30, 2014 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, FBI, GLBTQ, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), New York, New York City, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Anti-LGBTQ Violence Spikes Beyond 2,000 Incidents in 2013, Says Report

Rush Limbaugh Demeans Matthew Shepard’s Hate Crime Murder

Attempts to demean Matthew Shepard and his murder are a Right Wing fetish.

Attempts to demean Matthew Shepard and his murder are a Right Wing fetish.

Palm Beach County, Florida  –  Conservative radio bombast Rush Limbaugh attempted to undercut the powerful anti-gay hate crime narrative of the murder of Matthew Shepard during a broadcast on Monday, February 24, from his top secret studio in Florida.  In the show, entitled “When did the ‘hate crime’ concept begin?”, Limbaugh launched a diatribe against Jason Collins’s decision to wear Number 98 on his basketball jersey in memory of Matthew Shepard who died because of anti-LGBT bias in 1998.  Collins, the first openly gay person to play on an NBA court this past Sunday for the Brooklyn Nets, came out back in April 2013 to both accolades and brickbats.

According to the broadcast transcript, Limbaugh attempted to win sympathy and outrage from his Dittohead audience for being the “original” target of hate crime language back in 1998. He had one major problem, however–the internationally embraced story of Matthew Shepard’s hate crime murder for being gay by Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney in October 1998.  So, Limbaugh proceeded to undermine the hate crime dimension of the Shepard murder that gripped the nation and the world and galvanized the human rights movement, eventually leading to the passage of the Matthew Shepard/James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act  in 2009.  Limbaugh said to his audience:

“[Jason Collins is] the first openly gay player to actually play in a professional sports game.  It happened last night, the Brooklyn Nets against the Los Angeles Lakers.  This is the Nets play-by-play announcer Ryan Ruocco, as Jason Collins — who, by the way, took the number 98 in solidarity with Matthew Shepard, who it’s now been proven didn’t happen, but was reputed to have been beaten up by a bunch of anti-gay bigots.”  In the transcript, Limbaugh provided readers with a hotlink to a book by right wing darling Stephen Jimenez purportedly “disproving” the anti-gay hate crime aspect of the Shepard case.

As Unfinished Lives reported last year at the publication of Jimenez’s book, these rather tired arguments are part of the continuing scheme to erode all anti-gay hate crimes narratives by attacking the archetypal Shepard story. Some of Jimenez’s own major sources have decried and disavowed his use of their names in his book of allegations, among them Henderson’s defense attorney who said that none of the “evidence” Jimenez advances was admissible in court when he was defending his client, and it is without merit now.  The Matthew Shepard Foundation, where Matt’s memory is making a difference by saving lives throughout the world, issued a strong rebuttal to this problematic book Limbaugh takes as gospel.  In the New York Daily News, the Shepard Foundation statement reads, in part:  “Attempts now to rewrite the story of this hate crime appear to be based on untrustworthy sources, factual errors, rumors and innuendo rather than the actual evidence gathered by law enforcement and presented in a court of law.”  

rush-limbaugh-260x300The extremist Right Wing, epitomized by Limbaugh, famously called “Comedian Rush Limbaugh” by Keith Olbermann on Countdownhas made a virtual cottage industry out of demeaning the lives and deaths of LGBT people for over 16 years.  Their agenda is running out of gas.  This latest attempt also fails to obscure the ugly truth that Matthew Shepard and over 14,000 other American queer folk have been murdered for their sexual orientation and/or their gender identity and expression since 1980.

The Shepard murder captured the world’s sympathy, outrage, and imagination as no other anti-gay hate crime murder story had done before.  As Gay Star News reports in its story on the Limbaugh allegations:  “Shepard, a 21 year old college student, died after being tortured in a hate crime in Laramie, Wyoming. Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson each received two consecutive life sentences for his murder. The prosecutor in the case alleged that McKinney and Henderson pretended to be gay in order to gain Shepard’s trust so they could later rob him. McKinney originally pleaded the gay panic defense, arguing that he and Henderson were driven to temporary insanity by alleged sexual advances by Shepard. After meeting Shepard at a bar, the pair took him to a remote area outside of Laramie. Once there they robbed him, beat him severely, and tied him to a fence with a rope from McKinney’s truck while Shepard pleaded for his life.”

As Dr. Stephen Sprinkle explains in his award-winning book, Unfinished Lives: Reviving the Memories of LGBTQ Hate Crimes Victims (Resource Publications, 2011):  “The public outcry at [Matthew Shepard’s] cold-blooded killing meant the hate crime that cut his young life short became the holotype in the American psyche for all instances of oppression against people in the sexual minority.   It also sent a chill into the bones of the religio-political Right Wing.  Power to enact protection statutes for LGBT people coalesced around Matt’s death so swiftly that the Wingers feared anti-LGBT hate crime legislation might actually become law.   Their strategy was to kill the story, or failing that, change the narrative.   Cut the power of moral outrage out from under Matt’s murder, they reasoned, and they would blunt the mounting public sentiment for an end to anti-LGBT oppression.”   

None of Comedian Rush Limbaugh’s or Stephen Jimenez’s allegations concerning Matthew Shepard’s murder hold water.  It seems the extremist Right Wing is all out of ideas.

February 25, 2014 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Florida, gay bashing, gay men, gay panic defense, GLBTQ, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Jason Collins, LGBTQ, Matthew Shepard, Matthew Shepard Act, Matthew Shepard Foundation, National Basketball Association (NBA), New York, Rush Limbaugh, Social Justice Advocacy, Stephen Jimenez, Torture and Mutilation, Unfinished Lives Book, Unfinished Lives Project, Wyoming | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Rush Limbaugh Demeans Matthew Shepard’s Hate Crime Murder

Gay Hate Crimes Blog Breaks the Half-Million Visitor Barrier: Unfinished Lives Blog Makes History

Rainbow spanglesDallas, Texas- Unfinishedlivesblog.com, a cyber site of public discourse on anti-LGBTQ hate crimes and their victims, broke through the 500,000 visits barrier on October 3.  Begun by a theologian and amateur blogger, the website has developed a world-wide readership and a strong following in the United States.  Dr. Stephen V. Sprinkle, the Founder and Director of the Unfinished Lives Project, hailed the moment as a demonstration of what a few dedicated people can do to shift the public conversation on LGBTQ hate crimes.  “It is humbling to realize how many people read and comment on a project that began as a labor of love,” Dr. Sprinkle said.  “We on the Unfinished Lives Project Team are deeply gratified by the loyalty of our readership.”

Originally intended to support the publication of Dr. Sprinkle’s award-winning book, Unfinished Lives: Reviving the Memories of LGBTQ Hate Crimes Victims (Resource Publications, 2011), Unfinishedlivesblog.com grew far beyond its initial purpose.  Covering the stories of hate crime murder victims, acts of violence against the queer community, and items of political, theological and cultural interest affecting the LGBTQ community, the blog has logged over 580 stories and posts since its inception in June 2008. Ryan Valentine, Deputy Director of the Texas Freedom Network and an early endorser of the blog, voiced his continuing appreciation of the ongoing work of the website and the Unfinished Lives Project:

“I am writing to commend – in the highest possible terms – Dr. Stephen Sprinkle and his Unfinished Lives project. My support springs from the conviction that his work calling attention to the “slow-rolling holocaust” of LGBT hate crimes in this country has a particular urgency in the struggle for civil rights in contemporary America. As society and the media turn a blind eye, someone must tell these stories.”  

In response to a post criticizing anti-gay hazing in colleges and universities, an anonymous commentator thanked the Unfinished Lives Project for aiding a social advocacy group in their justice work:  “We are a group of volunteers and starting a new scheme in our community. Your site provided us with valuable information to work on. You’ve performed a formidable activity and our entire group will probably be grateful to you.”  

Ryan Keith Skipper

Ryan Keith Skipper

Perhaps most moving have been the messages of support for the work of this site from the parents and loved ones of hate crimes victims.  In response to a memorial post for Ryan Keith Skipper (1981 – 2007), a gay man brutally murdered in Polk County, Florida, his stepfather, Lynn Mulder, posted this note: “Ryan had overcome many obstacles in his life and reconciled many conflicts that our society placed in his path. He was comfortable with who he was and as his parents we were proud of that accomplishment. Ryan has not been forgotten and we still love him. Thank you all for remembering and caring, especially on his birthday.”  Lynn and Pat Mulder have become two of the most passionate and effective advocates for LGBTQ youth in America.

“I know that the work of Unfinished Lives Blog is far from over,” Sprinkle said.  “The numbers of LGBTQ hate crimes murders have reached historic highs every year since 2009.  An epidemic of deadly violence is claiming the lives of transgender youth, especially m to f trans youth of color, throughout the United States.  Bullying in schools has led to untold numbers of desperate acts on the part of LGBTQ school-aged youth, as well.  And the recent alarming uptick in anti-gay acts of violence in New York City may be pointing to an ominous trend that will spread throughout the nation.”  After a pause to collect himself, Sprinkle said, “We cannot suspend, even for a moment, our efforts for full justice and equality for queer folk everywhere.  Lives depend on it.”  

So, for Sprinkle and the volunteer Unfinished Lives Project Team, a half-million visitors to this labor-of-love site is a hallmark of a work for Justice-sake that cannot rest–but along the way, the Team says a hearty “Thank You!” to every reader of this blogsite, now and in the days and years to come!

October 3, 2013 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, GLBTQ, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, hate crimes prevention, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, LGBTQ Community, Social Justice Advocacy, Texas, transgender persons, transphobia, Unfinished Lives Book, Unfinished Lives Project, Unfinishedlivesblog.com | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Florida Woman Brutally Raped for Being “Dyke” and “Lesbian”

Lesbian rapeOrlando, Florida – A rape victim says she was violated by three men under a downtown Orlando overpass on Sunday.  The woman who remains unidentified for her own protection, told police that her assailants attacked her as she paused to do a good deed after leaving a popular LGBT club.  As they pressed the attack, and raped her, the victim said the men yelled anti-lesbian slurs at her: “dyke” and “lesbian.”  One of the rapists reportedly snarled, “I’ll show you what a REAL man feels like!”

According to News 13, police are investigating the attack as a bias-motivated hate crime.  The woman, who had left Club Revolution, stopped under the overpass to give a homeless man some change and a cold soda, when the three rapists charged up in their vehicle, caught her, ripped off her clothes, and assaulted her as they heckled her for being a lesbian.  Huffington Post’s “Gay Voices”, in all the reports of the assault they gathered, says nothing to confirm or deny that the victim is indeed a lesbian.  It does not matter.  The woman’s sexual orientation was assumed to be lesbian by the homophobes who raped her.  The crime is heinous in whatever case, and the Orlando Police Department is correct to investigate it as a hate crime.

WESH/NBC News Orlando reminds us that seven people were reported by the FBI as attacked for their sexual orientation in Central Florida last year alone, and the number of unreported anti-LGBT hate crimes would undoubtedly be higher.  This summer has been particularly deadly.  Randy Stephens of the Center, a local LGBT advocacy organization, said to WESH, “There are still people out there that hate us. Even with all the victories wave had, we may have let our guard down.”

There have been no arrests in the case as of yet.

August 28, 2013 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, FBI, Florida, GLBTQ, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Mistaken as LGBT, Orlando Police Department, rape, Sexual assault, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, The Center (Orlando), Unsolved LGBT Crimes, women | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Harlem Transgender Woman Succumbs After Five Day Battle for Life: NYC’s Latest Hate Crime Victim

Islan Nettles, 21, removed from life support after brutal anti-transgender attack in Harlem.

Islan Nettles, 21, removed from life support after brutal anti-transgender attack in Harlem.

New York City, New York – A 21-year-old transgender woman of color was removed from life support after five desperate days in a coma from a savage hate crime attack in Harlem.  Islan Nettles, an aspiring fashion designer, was assaulted by a man allegedly enraged when he learned that Ms. Nettles was not a biological male.  She and her transgender friends were walking near 148th Street and Eighth Avenue on Saturday night when the barbaric attack took place at around 11 p.m..  One of her friends ran for help to a nearby police precinct as Ms. Nettles struggled for her life with the assailant, shouting transphobic and homophobic epithets, on top of her in the street, according to NY1.  She was rushed to Harlem Hospital where she was initially reported as conscious, but soon fell into a coma from which she never woke up.  NYPD reported that Ms. Nettles was determined brain dead, and she was removed from her ventilator on Thursday.

New York Police are investigating the assault as a bias-driven hate crime.  Mayoral candidate, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer issued statements decrying this latest violent incident involving LGBTQ New Yorkers, according to The Gothamist.  De Blasio said, “This is a horrifying and painful moment for our city. Ms. Nettles’ murder was crime rooted in hate and ignorance. My heart goes out to her family and her friends as they come to terms with this inexplicable act of violence.” De Blasio continued,  “Make no mistake: The denial of fundamental rights to transgender New Yorkers fuels the appalling violence this community continues to face. That must end. Delivering justice here requires we investigate this hate crime and hold the perpetrator or perpetrators fully responsible. But it also demands we finally affirm the rights of transgender New Yorkers as full and equal members of our city, state and country.”  Stringer added his outrage at the crime, “The savage beating death of a transgender women in Harlem this past weekend was an appalling and unacceptable crime that has no place in New York City. We pride ourselves on tolerance and generosity toward others in this City, but the murder of Islan Nettles is a reminder of how far we still have to go in ensuring that all New Yorkers can walk the streets with dignity and safety.”

A suspect named Paris Wilson, 20, was arrested by police and charged with the beating.  Wilson was initially charged with misdemeanor assault in the third degree and harassment in the second degree.  Since Ms. Nettles’ death, upgraded charges are expected on Friday.  The Black Youth Project called the murder “horrible,” and lamented the awful waste of a talented young transgender woman’s life.  Ms. Nettles, who worked for a time at Ay’ Medici, a Harlem design house.  On her LinkedIn page, she wrote movingly of her love of fashion design:  “Fashion became a definite decision for my life after my first show with my hand designed garments in high school at the 11th grade.”

Ms. Nettles’ hate crime murder is the second fatality in a wave of violence against New York City’s LGBTQ community that has racked up record numbers of violent attacks each year for the last three years in a row.

August 23, 2013 Posted by | African Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Beatings and battery, GLBTQ, harassment, Harlem, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, New York, New York City, New York Police Department (NYPD), Slurs and epithets, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Outbreak of Anti-Gay Attacks in Brooklyn and Queens, New York Continues Trend of Homophobic Violence

Kevin Kiadii, 25, assaulted Wednesday in Brooklyn's Prospect Park for his sexual orientation.

Kevin Kiadii, 25, assaulted Wednesday in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park for his sexual orientation.

Brooklyn, New York – Since Sunday of last week, there have been two anti-gay bias attacks reported in Brooklyn, and another hate crime assault in Queens, according to various news sources.  On Wednesday night, openly gay Kevin Kiadii, a 25-year-old freelance makeup artist and a male friend were assaulted in Prospect Park, CBS 2 reports.  Kiadii, notable for lodging a sexual misconduct suit against ex-Elmo voice artist, Kevin Clash (see NewsOne story), was randomly chosen for harassment and assault by a group of five teens who were allegedly drunk and/or high.  When the most aggressive of the teenagers, the one also displaying the most intoxication, confronted Kiadii with homophobic slurs, the gay man offered the youth a soda as an attempt to diffuse the situation.  Undeterred, the assailant took a “fighting stance,” in Kiadii’s words, and when Kiadii told him to back off, the youth jumped at Kiadii and said “‘I’m going to [expletive] you up’ and do this and ‘you F and [expletive].'” Kiadii took a perfume bottle from his bag and wielded it like a can of pepper spray to back off his attackers.  “One of the dudes tried to kick me in the face, but just missed and he got me in my shoulder,” Kiadii said.  Kiadii managed to get off a 911 call to police, handed his phone to a bystander, and wrestled with his main attacker, who left Kiadii with an injured hand, cuts and bruises.  Speaking to the New York Post, Kiadii said his ploy with the spray bottle of perfume may have prevented something much worse from happening to him.  “If it wasn’t for my Dior bottle, I’d be in so much damage,” he said.

The police responded quickly, arresting four youths ranged in age from 13 to 18 years of age, and a fifth suspect who is 21. Charges have been filed against the teens and the 21-year-old for harassment as a hate crime, and the prime assailant faces charges of aggravated assault as a hate crime, according to The Advocate.  Expressing his appreciation for the swift action of the police, Kiadii is thankful that he was not more seriously hurt.  Still, the assault has left him shaken but determined to broadcast what he had to face, so that others will not have to endure an anti-gay attack like his.  “I’m appalled. I’m in awe,” Kiadii told CBS 2. “I just really want my story told because I know there a lot of people in the city who deal with stuff like this.” 

Police sketches of Brooklyn subway gay basher and Queens suspect who attacked a woman while shouting anti-gay slurs.

Police sketches of Brooklyn subway gay basher (l) and Queens suspect (r) who attacked a woman while shouting anti-gay slurs.

Police are also searching for an unidentified Brooklyn suspect who punched a 27-year-old gay man twice in the face on the J Train at approximately 11:45 p.m. last Sunday, May 26.  The assailant hurled anti-gay slurs at his victim as he carried out the attack, according to DNAinfo.  The suspect fled out the back of the subway car to escape arrest.  Police described the suspect as a man in his mid-to-late-20s, 6 feet tall, with dark hair tied in a bun. He was last seen wearing a blue denim jacket, police said.  The New York Police Department Hate Crimes Task Force is carrying out the investigation.  The subway assault and investigation were announced by the New York Police Department on Friday of this week.  Also reported this week was an earlier bias-related attack upon a woman in Queens on March 17 of this year.  Police say that the suspect approached a 49-year-old woman, cursed her with homophobic epithets, and punched her in the face before fleeing the scene.  He is described as between the ages of 20 and 25, five feet four inches tall, 140 pounds, with brown eyes and black hair.  At the time of the assault, the attacker was wearing a small mustache.  The suspect reportedly has been sighted in the area of the 115th Police Precinct.  No explanation has been given for the lateness of the report on the Queens attack as of this report.

Anti-gay violence is spiking alarmingly throughout New York City.  Better than 30 incidents of anti-LGBT hate crimes have been reported this year, one of them a fatal shooting, easily doubling last year’s statistics for anti-gay attacks during the same time period.

June 2, 2013 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Beatings and battery, Brooklyn, Gang violence, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, harassment, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, New York, New York City, Queens, Slurs and epithets, Unsolved LGBT Crimes, women | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Outbreak of Anti-Gay Attacks in Brooklyn and Queens, New York Continues Trend of Homophobic Violence

Gay Hate Crimes Blog Reaches New Milestone! 400k!

Dallas, Texas – Unfinished Lives Blog, a cyber effort to change the conversation about anti-LGBTQ hate crimes, reached at significant milestone at approximately Noon Central Time: 400,000 site visits.  The Unfinished Lives Project Team, past and present, thank our readership most sincerely, and move ahead with this project in the knowledge that breaking the silence and remembering the dead are acts of justice supported by so many good people.

The Unfinished Lives Project was launched in response to the over 13,000 women, men, youth, and GenderQueer people in the United States who have lost their lives so outrageously since the early 1980s to heterosexism, homophobia, and the culture of violence so prevalent in this country. As the graphic from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP)  and GLAAD shows, the crisis of hate crime violence against queer folk is not abating—it is growing annually, at an alarming rate. Bias-motivated hate crime prevention was never more important than now.  We mourn the outrageous losses these data represent, and cry out against the injustices that instigate them.

Transgender people, especially transgender youth of color, and gay men are the main targets of unreasoning hatred today.  Our suspicion is that the number of lesbians killed for their sexual orientation is alarmingly high, as well, masked in our culture by misogynistic violence that takes the lives of so many women in this country everyday.  While the number of documented attacks against lesbians is growing, we believe that the statistics we have on the murder of lesbians are the only tip of the iceberg.

This blog was also created to support the publication of Dr. Stephen Sprinkle’s groundbreaking book, Unfinished Lives: Reviving the Memories of LGBTQ Hate Crimes Victims (Resource Publications, 2011).  The Unfinished Lives Project Team is glad that many of our readers have also discovered the book, authored by our Founder and Project Director.  Book signing and promotion events have carried the message of hate crimes prevention, LGBTQ equality, and hope throughout Texas, and to Washington, D.C., Las Vegas, Toledo, South Florida, Birmingham, Chicago, New York City, St. Louis, and six cities in North Carolina. Plans are in the works for a book tour event in Indiana. Filming has begun for a made-for-cable series based on the stories of the 14 victims told in the book.  This past June, Dr. Sprinkle received the 2011 Silver Medal for Gay-Lesbian Non-Fiction from the Independent Book Publishers Awards (the IPPYs).  A translation of Unfinished Lives is in process in the Korean language, furthering the reach of this message of justice and hope on an international stage. When released in Korea later this year, Unfinished Lives will be only the second book on homosexuality to be published in South Korea.

Thank you for your continuing interest and support.  400.000 visitors is a sign of health, hope, and sacred trust. This work was and remains to be a voluntary labor of love.  We who believe in Justice cannot rest.  We who believe in Justice cannot rest until it comes!

November 24, 2012 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, GLBTQ, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, hate crimes prevention, Heterosexism and homophobia, Lesbian women, LGBT teen suicide prevention, LGBTQ, Social Justice Advocacy, South Korea, Texas, transgender persons, transphobia, Unfinished Lives Book, Unfinished Lives Book Signings, women | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Gay Couple Brutally Attacked in D.C.

Washington, D.C. – A gay couple was bashed by three men on the sidewalk near their home early on Sunday morning in NE D.C.  Michael Joel Hall (l), a popular yoga instructor in the District, and his partner, Michael Roike (r), were ambushed by three men, according to MYFOXDC.  The couple had been driven to their neighborhood at about 2 a.m. and were walking to their home on 3rd and T Streets NE when the attack materialized seemingly out of nowhere. Investigators say that the three bashers were yelling anti-gay slurs as they pressed their assault against the couple. Police are investigating the case as a probable anti-gay hate crime.

Both Hall and Roike were injured in the assault.  Hall’s injuries were by far the most severe, suffering a broken cheek bone and fractured face where one of the assailants struck him.  Roike’s mother says that the couple would surely have been killed if passers-by had not shouted at the attackers and rushed to the scene.  The thugs escaped with a cell phone belonging to one of the victims. Hall was rushed to Howard University Hospital where he underwent surgery to repair his shattered face on Monday.

Because Hall has no health insurance and lost his apartment in a recent fire, friends in the yoga community and Hall’s students have created a Facebook page, “Friends of Michael Joel Hall and Michael Roike,”  and established a fund to help defray his medical expenses. The response of the community has been heartening to the couple.  Cobalt/30 degrees is hosting a fundraiser for Hall on Thursday evening, and Flow Yoga in Logan Circle is hosting a “In the Name of Love” fundraiser on Friday night. The Facebook page has details about both these events and the MJH Fund on PayPal.

A local blog, dcist, reports that this hate crime attack is part of a disturbing pattern in the nation’s capital.  Numbers of anti-gay hate crimes have spiked alarmingly in recent months.  Of the 57 confirmed hate crime attacks in the District in 2011, 37 of them targeted LGBTQ people.  In March of this year, hundreds of members of the gay community and straight allies marched from Columbia Heights to Georgia Avenue to draw attention the issue and demand an end to the senseless violence.  As of this writing, there is no report of an arrest in the case.

July 24, 2012 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, Metropolitan Police (D.C.), Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, Unsolved LGBT Crimes, Vigils, Washington, D.C. | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Gay Couple Brutally Attacked in D.C.

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

Hate Crimes Blog Marks Quarter-Million Milestone!

Celebrating 250,000 readers and more! Many thanks!

Dallas, Texas – A blog site created to change the conversation on anti-LGBTQ hate crimes hosted the 250K visitor today, marking a milestone in cyberspace.  Unfinished Lives Blog broke the quarter million hit barrier Tuesday morning, January 10, fueled by intense interest in gay bashing stories from Wisconsin, California, and the Republic of the Philippines.

Created by Dr. Stephen Sprinkle, the author of Unfinished Lives: Reviving the Memories of LGBTQ Hate Crimes Victims (Resource Publications, 2011) as “a place of public discourse which remembers and honors LGBTQ hate crime victims, while also revealing the reality of unseen violence perpetrated against people whose only ‘offense’ is their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender presentation,” the blog has to date posted 432 articles relating to overcoming violence against sexual and gender dissidents in 370 categories.  Assisted by the Unfinished Lives Project Team, the blog ginned up in June 2008, and gradually gained a loyal readership, becoming a trusted source on hate-crimes-related issues affecting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer people.

Originally, the site appealed to colleagues at Brite Divinity School, students, and interested North Texans.  Early on, however, the blog began to gain a national and international constituency.  As of this date, the top ten U.S. states represented by hits are (in rank order) California, Texas, New York, Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio, and New Jersey, with all 50 states, U.S. Territories and the District of Columbia represented. Internationally, readers from Canada, Great Britain, Germany, Australia, Brazil, France, the Netherlands, Mexico, Italy, and Spain lead the pack, with the Philippines, India, Indonesia and Taiwan leading Asian visitors, and South Africa, Egypt, Algeria, and Nigeria contributing the most readers from Africa. In all, Unfinishedlivesblog.com counts readers and followers from 174 foreign countries and territories.

One distinctive feature of Unfinished Lives Blog is its combination of reportage, ethnography, theological orientation, and academic origins.  Few academically-originated blogs reach the number of people this one consistently does.

The month of January will be a time of appreciation and celebration in the life of this blog.  Highlighted for thanks and recognition are four groups: the Endorsers of this blog and the Unfinished Lives book, the growing number of Followers (now more than 470 official Followers!), the Unfinished Lives Project Team support staff, and, of course, the 250K readers without whom this effort would be a lone voice in the dark.

This effort has no paid staff, no advertising to defray expenses, and no full-time personnel.  Instead, this blog has been and remains a labor of love and remembrance.  No end to the violence perpetrated against LGBTQ people is yet in sight.  We cannot, will not forget the women, men, and youths cut down by irrational hatred because of their real or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender presentation. Their families, friends, and lovers are dear to us. Their attackers and murderers are in our prayers. The work of this blog is in no wise done–there is so much more remaining to do until hate violence is erased.  So, we who believe in Justice cannot rest–we who believe in Justice cannot rest until it comes!

Thank you for your continuing readership, commentary, and support!

January 10, 2012 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Brite Divinity School, GLBTQ, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, hate crimes prevention, LGBTQ, Remembrances, Social Justice Advocacy, Special Comments, Texas | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Hate Crimes Blog Marks Quarter-Million Milestone!

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