Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Names of Deceased Pulse Nightclub Patrons Slowly Being Released

Aggregate photo by Huffington Post, with our thanks.

Aggregate photo by Huffington Post, with our thanks.

Orlando, Florida – The names of the deceased in the worst mass shooting is U.S. history are slowly being released to the public. 50 died in the initial homophobic attack on the Pulse Nightclub, and 53 were hospitalized. Printed here are the 49 names assembled by Huffington Post by 7 p.m., June 13. All but one of the victims has been identified, and authorities are notifying next of kin. The effort to inform those many more who loved them also is ongoing, as well. We publish them here with their ages at the time of their deaths. All those who were gunned down by unreasoning hatred of who they were have names…lives…loves…. Everyone one, those named here and those remaining to be named, was someone’s child, sister, brother, friend, lover, co-worker, team member. All are our Rainbow Family, and we shall not forget them. May they have found rest, and may their deaths, heinous as the crime was that took away their lives, usher in a better world than they ever knew. One where Everybody is Somebody, and nobody is nobody.

Darryl Roman Burt II, 29

Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 

Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 

Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 

Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 

Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 

Oscar A. Aracena-Montero, 26 

Enrique L. Rios Jr., 25 

Miguel Angel Honorato, 30

Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40

Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 

Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 

Cory James Connell, 21 

Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 

Luis Daniel Conde, 39 

Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25 

Jerald Arthur Wright, 31 

Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 

Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 

Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34

Stanley Almodovar III, 23

Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22

Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36

Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22

Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20

Luis S. Vielma, 22

Kimberly Morris, 37

Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30

Anthony Luis Laureano Disla, 25

Amanda Alvear, 25

Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26

Martin Benitez Torres, 33 

Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37

Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35

Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35

Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33

Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27

Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33

Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49

Yilmary Rodriguez Sulivan, 24

Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32

Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28

Frank Hernandez, 27

Paul Terrell Henry, 41

Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24

Akyra Monet Murray, 18

Antonio Brown, 29

Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 25

Jerald Arthur Wright, 31

June 13, 2016 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Anti-LGBT hate crimes, Florida, Gay Bars, GLBTQ, gun violence, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, In Memoriam, Latino and Latina Americans, Lesbians, LGBTQ, Mass shootings, Orlando, Pulse Nightclub, Remembrances, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Names of Deceased Pulse Nightclub Patrons Slowly Being Released

Transgender Black Woman Murdered in Tampa, Tenth Trans Hate Killing of 2015; Where is the Cisgender Outrage?

Image by Lexie Cannes

Image by Lexie Cannes State of Trans

Tampa, Florida – The lifeless body of trans woman India Clarke (25) was found near a community center basketball court this week. Cause of death is unknown as of this writing, though her upper body bears signs of bludgeoning with a blunt instrument. Clarke is the 10th transgender person murdered this year, according to some sources. If the past experience of the transgender community is any suggestion of the real number of hate crime homicides against trans people, especially trans women of color, 10 is probably a severe undercount, just the tip of a deadly ice berg. With social outrage over the unjust deaths of so many cisgender Americans over the past year, all of it so very necessary to spur fundamental change on matters of racial injustice, the absence of outcries against the decimation of the transgender community is so obvious as to be revelatory. Where is the cisgender outrage over transphobic hate crime murders?

The story line of murders perpetrated against transgender women of color is monstrously similar. In its press release on the killing of Ms. Clarke, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), headquartered in New York City, recounted the names of the 2015 victims of transphobic hatred we currently know:

1) Papi Edwards, black transgender woman, shot to death in Louisville, Kentucky, January 9.

2) Lamia Beard, black transgender woman, shot to death in Norfolk, Virginia, January 17.

3) Ty Underwood, black transgender woman, shot to death in Tyler, Texas, January 26.

4) Yazmin Vash Payne, black transgender woman, fatally stabbed in Los Angeles, California January 31.

5) Taja Gabrielle de Jesus, latina transgender woman, stabbed to death in San Francisco, California, February 1.

6) Penny Proud, black transgender woman, shot to death in New Orleans, Louisiana, February 10.

7) Kristina Gomez Reinwald, latina transgender woman, found murdered in Miami, Florida, February 15.

8) London Chanel, black transgender women, stabbed to death in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, May 8.

9) Mercedes Williamson, anglo transgender woman, fatally stabbed in George County, Mississippi, May 30.

Two other gender-non conforming persons have been murdered during the calendar year, anglo Bri Golec, stabbed  to death in Akron, Ohio, and black Maya Hall, shot to death in Fort Meade, Maryland. The NCAVP is still investigating these killings to determine whether a transphobic motive lay behind their deaths.

NCAVP spokesperson Chai Jindasurat, decried India Clarke’s savage murder:

“India Clark’s death is a tragedy, which is made worse by egregious misgendering by local police and media. We must honor India Clarke, and all of the transgender women, especially teams women of color,” Jindasurat continued, “killed in this epidemic by supporting the leadership of transgender women, public awareness and respect campaigns, speaking out against this violence, and protecting transgender people from harassment and discrimination.” 

Trans blogger Lexie Cannes notes the pattern playing out in Ms. Clarke’s homicide, made familiar by the well rehearsed outline of reports of transphobic murder in the mainstream media. She echoes the troubling findings of bloggers Monica Roberts and Carlos Maza who misguidedly, perhaps intentionally misidentifying the gender expression and identity of the victims as “men in dresses.” Cannes quotes Maza at some length:

“The cycle at its worst seems to be the same: a transgender person is found dead,” Maza writes, “law enforcement officials fail to acknowledge the victim’s gender identity, and local news outlets follow law enforcement’s lead, misgendering the victim despite often knowing how the victim wished to be publicly identified.

But failing to report the way Clarke is publicly identified,” Maza continues, “deprives audiences of the information they need to understand her death in the broader context of violence against transgender women. In instances where misgendering is intentional, it’s a statement that her gender identity is little more than a deceptive costume, not worthy of being taken seriously.” 

So, where is the outrage from cisgender activists, ministers, and other citizens? Sadly and tellingly, the larger context of the way transgender victims of hate violence are misidentified and hammered in the mainstream press betrays a cultural dehumanization unworthy of the American spirit. Are trans people, especially trans people of color, partakers of a common humanity with us all? Until cisgender America faces their own transphobia, the brutality and dehumanization of our sisters and brothers will continue. This, in the opinion of the Unfinished Lives Project Team, is every bit as wrong as racism, and is racisms secret ally in staining the American conscience.

July 23, 2015 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, Beatings and battery, cisgender people, Florida, GLBTQ, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Latino and Latina Americans, LGBTQ, National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Worst Mother in the World” and Boyfriend Take Plea Deal For Torture Murder of 8 Year Old Son They Feared was “Gay”

Pearl Fernandez and Isauro Aguirre entered guilty plea to avoid death penalty.

Pearl Fernandez and Isauro Aguirre entered guilty plea to avoid death penalty.

Palmdale, California – The mother of an eight-year-old son she despised for being “gay,” and her live-in boyfriend have pled guilty to first degree murder and torture under special circumstances in exchange for avoiding the death penalty. Pearl Fernandez and her sometime lover, Isauro Aguirre, took life in prison without hope of parole, and agreed to waive any appeal to their sentence in the horrific case of young Gabriel Fernandez. Paramedics were called to the couple’s apartment on May 22, 2013 because Gabriel had stopped breathing. He died two days later. According to court testimony by Gabriel’s older sibling Ezequiel, an eye witness to the repeated beatings and torture inflicted on his younger brother, Pearl Fernandez had beaten her child into unconsciousness, and then fearful of discovery, ordered her older child to fabricate a story about an accident in the Palmdale apartment so the adults could escape prosecution for his murder.  The paramedics found Gabriel naked, with cracked ribs, burns, and BB shot in his lung and in his groin area. As quoted in the Antelope Valley Press, Paramedic James Cermak said, “It was like sensory overload. There was burn marks, there was BB holes, bruises in various stages of healing, [it] looked like his ankles were broken. It was like every inch of this boy had been abused.” Cermak added, “We noticed that he had bruising all over his body, he had strangulation marks around his neck, and looked like his teeth had been knocked out.” When Cermak asked Pearl Fernandez about the situation “she became very defensive,” he said, and blamed the unconscious boy for fighting with his brother and being “a dirty boy.” According to NBC Los Angeles, the couple were arrested the day following Gabriel’s discovery for capital murder and torture. Though they both entered a plea of not guilty, a Grand Jury indicted them both in August for one of the most horrendous cases of child abuse and homophobia in Southern California history.

Testimony earlier this year established that Pearl Fernandez and her then-boyfriend Isauro Aguirre locked the boy in a dark closet for hours at a time, stuffed socks in his mouth to prevent him from crying out, repeatedly beat him, psychologically harmed him, and on at least one occasion forced him to eat cat feces and his own vomit as punishment for playing with dolls and acting “gay.” They whipped Gabriel with the metal end of a leather belt for a period of at least eight months, hit him with a bat, knocked his teeth out with a club, and tortured the boy with pepper spray. Though Gabriel was being overseen by the Department of Children and Family Services, at least four social workers who missed or ignored the signs of repeated abuse were dismissed from service in the public uproar over the case. After a total of no fewer than seven reports of suspected child abuse from sources including Gabriel’s teacher, the social workers did not investigate the allegations thoroughly enough to remove the boy from what amounted to a torture chamber of horrors. A blue-ribbon panel formed in the fallout from the case issued a scorching report mandating changes in the way at risk children are overseen in Los Angeles County. Gabriel’s maternal grandmother has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the county and the DCFS.

Gabriel Fernandez, tortured and murdered for being "gay."

Gabriel Fernandez, tortured and murdered for being “gay.”

While there is plenty of blame to go around in the horrific torture murder of the eight-year-old, the fact of the active savagery of a mother, deemed otherwise sane, against her own child for whatever reason prompted Gay Star News to dub Pearl Fernandez “The Worst Mother in the World.” According to the Antelope Valley Press, Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputy Jonathan Beck testified in court that on the night of Gabriel’s discovery, Pearl expressed little or no concern for her child. When prosecutors asked Deputy Beck if she showed concern for anything, he said, “Her cats.” The depth of hatred for LGBTQ people shown by the punishment rained down on Gabriel by Aguirre and Fernandez is hard to fathom. For allegedly playing with dolls, they humiliated him by forcing him to wear girls’ clothing, ridiculed him in front of his siblings, and tortured him beyond belief. Apparently, these two adults believed that blaming an eight-year-old child for being “gay” somehow mitigated and justified what they did to him. It also betokens that his own mother would rather have a dead son than a gay one.

Now, according to an organization posting on Facebook as “Gabriel’s Justice,” Fernandez and Aguirre’s guilty plea and the life-without-parole sentence finally brings some sense of closure to this outrageous case. For the advocates for Gabriel, there was never a doubt that the couple would be found guilty of this heinous crime, for putting Gabriel through such hell for so many months of his young life. The group expressed relief that years of appeals could now be avoided. Now, the fear to which these people subjected an innocent child would now be visited on them with a vengeance. “The two would sit on death row for over 30 years utilizing appeal after appeal with no closure for anyone,” the Gabriel’s Justice web master said in a post on Facebook. “Both will be placed in general population, there’s no safety house for them. This would not be true on Death Row.” With a sense of some vindication, the post is summed up with these words: “Justice has been served.” 

October 29, 2014 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Beatings and battery, Blame the victim, Burning and branding, California, capital punishment, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, homophobic child abuse, Latino and Latina Americans, LGBTQ, Slurs and epithets, Torture and Mutilation | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Bisexual Man Shot to Death Outside His Home; Suspect Arrested and Charged with Hate Crime

Juan Ceballos, 20, gunned down because he was bisexual [KESQ photo].

Juan Ceballos, 20, gunned down because he was bisexual [KESQ photo].

Mecca, California – A 20-year-old openly bisexual man was murdered in his car as he parked in the driveway of his home.  Juan Ceballos, a student at the College of the Desert, had just returned home Sunday night, July 13, from work with pizza for his four siblings and his mother when a co-worker who had been lying in wait opened fire, fatally wounding him. According to KESQ TV News, his younger brother, 17-year-old Sergio Ceballo, rushed outside to find his brother Juan dying behind the wheel of his car.  Sergio and the family say that the reason for the murder of their beloved Juan was because of irrational hatred for Juan’s bisexuality.  Riverside County Sheriff’s Deputies agreed with the motive for Juan’s murder.  After the arrest of Miguel Angel Bautista Ramirez, 25, of Thermal, California, on Monday, July 28, he was charged with felony murder, hate crime, and lying in wait. The Desert Sun reports that prosecutors filed a criminal complaint against Ramirez citing “bias against” gays and bisexual persons. On August 1, Ramirez pled not guilty to the charges.  He is being held without bail, and will be arraigned on August 11. Because the attack was bias-driven, premeditated, and fatal, Ramirez could face the death penalty.

“I have to step up now, like [Juan] did,” Sergio said to KESQ. Juan Ceballos was a well-regarded, happy person who worked hard to help out his mother and four siblings.  He had worked in the agricultural fields to pay personal bills and help support his family, but currently was working two jobs to make ends meet: at a gas station and a Pizza Hut.  Upon hearing the news of Ramirez’s arrest, Sergio said, “If he is the one who killed [Juan], I hope they keep him off the street so that no other family will have to go through the pain we are.”  When asked about how someone could kill another person because of his sexual orientation, Sergio said wiping away tears, “If that is the reason [Ramirez] did that to him, I don’t even know why.”  Speaking with KMIR NBC News, Sergio said that his brother’s killer was “stupid” to do such a thing because of sexuality.   “[Juan] was more like a father, not as a brother, he was head of the house, he was our support,” said Sergio.  “He said he was looking for happiness in a world full of evil,” Sergio continued, “maybe he was right. The world is full of evil, and I don’t know why they ever did this to him.  He was our guide. Everything we have now we owe to him. I’m going to continue with all of this, but now I’m going to have to do this without him,” Sergio concluded.

Juan’s mother, Maria Teresa Mendez, said, her son was “a happy person who tried to guide his siblings to do good in life.  I expect justice for the person who did this.”

August 7, 2014 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Bisexual persons, California, GLBTQ, gun violence, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, LGBTQ | , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Bisexual Man Shot to Death Outside His Home; Suspect Arrested and Charged with Hate Crime

Savage Anti-Gay Attack Targets Straight Man in Brooklyn

David Jimenez, a non-gay victim of anti-gay hate, was brutally beaten on September 25 while walking his dogs (Brooklyn Paper image - Stefano Giovannini).

David Jimenez, a non-gay victim of anti-gay hate, was brutally beaten on September 25 while walking his dogs (Brooklyn Paper image – Stefano Giovannini).

Brooklyn, New York – A straight resident of the Williamsburg section of greater New York City was viciously beaten by a man yelling homophobic slurs, adding to the alarming number of hate crime attacks in the Big Apple.  David Jimenez, 40, who identifies as a heterosexual man, told reporters from the Brooklyn Paper that the assault seemed to come out of nowhere as he walked his two Boston Terriers back to his apartment at about 11:30 p.m. on September 25.  Jimenez says he had just escorted a group of his friends to a cab.  As he passed a group of men sitting on a stoop on South Third Street between Bedford Avenue and Berry Street, he said he heard slurs being hurled at him, which he tried to ignore as he continued down the street toward his home. The next thing he knew, a brutal punch struck him in the face out of nowhere.  “Someone started screaming, ‘Hey you, faggot,” said Jimenez. “I turned around and gave him a look like, ‘What the hell?’ and the next thing I know the guy starts punching me in the face.”

Jimenez could not successfully defend himself as he struggled to hold onto the leashes of his dogs as blows rained down on him.  The assailant, who remains unnamed as of this report except for his being a 35-year-old man, broke his victim’s nose in four places, bruised his jaw. blacked both his eyes, and shattered the bones in one of his eye sockets.  The attack was bloody, leaving copious stains of blood on the sidewalk that remained there for days after the crime.  Though Jimenez is a straight man, NY1 reports that authorities are now investigating the attack as a bias-motivated hate crime.  A witness to the crime called police who found the attacker still at the scene soaked in his victim’s blood.  Officers arrested the assailant, and charged him initially with assault and possession of a controlled substance, and resisting arrest.  Jimenez, now recuperating at home in preparation for reconstructive surgery to his face, says the wounds he suffered go far beyond the physical ones on his body:  “My head, it cannot comprehend how this is the case, where you literally catch someone with blood in their hands, because when he was taken in, his fist was full of blood, and he’s out here walking while I’m in here locked in my house because I’m afraid of going outside.”  

As EDGE On The Net reports, the hate crime attack on Jimenez adds an alarming new dimension to the rising epidemic of violence against LGBT New Yorkers in recent months, since even heterosexual people who are merely mistaken for being gay are now being targeted.  During the summer, two alleged anti-gay hate crimes were investigated in Williamsburg by police, and in Manhattan, a gay man was fatally shot to death in the Chelsea/Greenwich Village area of the city, one of the queer-friendliest sections of the Big Apple, and the cradle of the modern LGBTQ Rights Movement.  Jimenez told CBS 2 New York that coping with the crime against him will be a longtime struggle.  “That’s the most difficult part — waking up every morning and trying to live my life like normal,” he said.

October 3, 2013 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, Brooklyn, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Mistaken as LGBT, New York, New York City, New York Police Department (NYPD), Slurs and epithets | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Man Charged with Hate Crime in Brutal Colorado Gay Beating

Jared Olson, victim of anti-gay hate crime, before and after the Labor Day Weekend assault.

Jared Olson, victim of anti-gay hate crime, before and after the Labor Day Weekend assault.

Denver, Colorado – After several weeks, a 20-year-old suspect in the savage beating of an openly gay man outside a hookah lounge has been formally charged with an anti-gay hate crime.  Tilo Sandoval, who turned himself in to police for attacking 23-year-old Jared Olson, was charged Thursday with second-degree assault, third-degree assault and bias-motivated crime, according to 9News.com.

The assault took place around 2 a.m. on September 2 outside Denver’s popular Sam’s Hookah Lounge at the corner of Alameda Avenue and Zuni Street.  Olson told police that he and his friends left the lounge to get in their car when two men, one of them Sandoval, approached them, cursing them and shouting anti-gay slurs.  Olson says that Sandoval yanked open the car door, yelling epithets, and hit him so hard that it dislodged some of his teeth.  KDVR.com reports Olsen’s account of what happened:  “They were just cussing at us and slurring, then one guy walked to my door and opened it and hit me in the face,” Olsen said. “We drove off right after that.”  Besides losing and chipping his teeth, Olson’s face sustained severe injuries which, though not life-threatening, will likely require plastic and reconstructive surgery. The cost of the surgery to set his face right again may cost as much as $50,000–a health care crisis for Olson who does not have insurance to cover the expenses. Commenting on the attack on her son, Melody Olson told KDVR, “It’s so disheartening and disgusting that anyone would do that to anybody. Not just my child, but anybody’s. And it’s just because they don’t approve of (their sexual orientation).”  

The severity of his wounds shocked Olson, he told 7News.  “I didn’t think that I looked that bad, until my mother had taken the picture and shown me. I didn’t think it would ever happen to me. I thought people were more sensible than that in this day in age,” he said. “I just remember looking over, and looking up at the guy and getting hit square in the face right here. And you can clearly tell my nose is like over here,” said Olson.

Tilo Sandoval, charged with bias motivated hate crime against Olson.

Tilo Sandoval, charged with bias motivated hate crime against Olson.

Scott Levin, Mountain States Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) expressed his dismay and outrage over the attack against Olson.  In a prepared statement, Levin said:  “The Anti-Defamation League is disheartened to learn of this tragic instance where a victim was allegedly targeted because of his sexual orientation. We applaud law enforcement officials for taking quick and decisive action to investigate whether this was a bias-motivated attack, and if the evidence supports it, we urge them to prosecute this crime to the full extent permitted under Colorado’s hate crimes law.”

Levin went on to say, “Hate crimes have an impact far beyond the individual victim of the crime. When a victim is chosen because of his or her sexual orientation, other members of that group feel unsafe and unwelcome. Hate crimes resonate throughout the victim’s community and threaten the safety and well-being of every member of that group. ADL calls upon the Denver community to speak out loudly against hate crimes and declare Denver no place for hate.”

Sandoval has been released on $30,000 bond. While the hate crimes charges are in place now, it will be up the Denver District Attorney to determine how to prosecute the case, and whether this particular situation meets the criteria of the Colorado Bias Crimes Law.

September 26, 2013 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, Colorado, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latinos, LGBTQ, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gay Hero Defies Anti-Gay Smear Campaign; DOJ Called to Investigate

President Obama congratulates gay hero Daniel Hernandez for his role in saving Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' life in 2011 [AP photo].

President Obama congratulates gay hero Daniel Hernandez for his role in saving Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ life in 2011 [AP photo].

Tucson, Arizona – One of the heroes to emerge from the horrific 2011 mass shooting in which Congresswoman Gabriel (Gabby) Giffords was gravely wounded has been subjected to a vile, anti-gay smear campaign.  The smear campaign coincides with an effort to recall him from public office.  Daniel Hernandez Jr., openly gay congressional intern who helped save Giffords’ life at peril to his own, is standing up against the anonymous smear campaign, and is calling out its originators.

Hernandez was elected to a vacant seat on the Sunnyside Unified School System governing board in 2011.  Huffington Post reports that at least two scurrilous flyers attacking Hernandez’s sexual orientation and his position on gun control appeared at the same time the recall conflict broke out on the school board.  While other school board members are being targeted for recall, Hernandez is the only recall target whose sexuality and character are being smeared.

Right Wing Watch first called attention to the smear flyers which were passed out to constituents anonymously.   The caption surrounding a flyer photograph of Hernandez speaking at an Equality Forum reads: “Put a REAL Man on the Sunnyside Board. Daniel Hernandez is LGBT. We need someone who will support Sports and cares about our kids. We don’t need someone who hates our values. RECALL Daniel Hernandez TODAY.”  A second flyer attacks Hernandez’s position on guns, deeply ironic given the savage shooting that wounded Representative Giffords and killed several constituents at a Congressional town hall meeting.

The nasty, homophobic nature of the flyers is not news.  Tactics like these have been influencing votes and voters for decades in Arizona and around the nation.  What is newsworthy, however, is the forthright manner in which Hernandez, an openly gay man, is refusing to succumb to the smears.  According to LGBTQ Nation, Hernandez has called for his opponents in the recall effort to distance themselves totally from these anti-gay tactics, and denounce anyone who supports such underhanded politics.  Furthermore, in another unprecedented move, U.S. Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) has asked the Pima County Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the attacks on Hernandez’s sexual orientation as a bias-motivated hate crime.

Hernandez’s recall opponents are scrambling to distance themselves from the hate attacks against a bona fide national hero who happens to be openly gay.  The investigation as it proceeds should uncover whatever links may exist between the recall effort and homophobic intent.

September 3, 2013 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Arizona, Character assassination, Daniel Hernandez, Gabrielle "Gabby" Giffords, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, LGBTQ, Politics, President Barack Obama, Slurs and epithets, Tucson Shooting Rampage, U.S. Justice Department | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Gay Hero Defies Anti-Gay Smear Campaign; DOJ Called to Investigate

Notorious Gay Panic and Trans Panic Legal Defenses Must End, Says American Bar Association

Gwen Araujo's mother, Sylvia Guerrero, cradles her portrait. Thanks to the ABA, the so-called Gay and Trans Panic excuses for violence may one day be a thing of the past.

Gwen Araujo’s mother, Sylvia Guerrero, cradles her portrait. Thanks to the ABA, the so-called Gay and Trans Panic excuses for violence may one day be a thing of the past.

San Francisco, California – Gay Panic and Trans Panic legal defenses must go, says the House of  Delegates of the American Bar Association at their annual meeting this past week.  The delegates voted to follow the lead of California legislation calling for the cessation of excuses for violence against gays, lesbians, and transgender persons allegedly because of fear of homosexuals or the identity of transgender persons, according to eNews Park Forest.  The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the President of the National LGBT Bar Association, D’Arcy Kemnitz, sponsor of the cessation resolution at the ABA convention, called upon lawmakers throughout the United States to frame legislation banning the use of the Gay Panic and Trans Panic defenses, saying, “Legal professionals find no validity in these sham defenses mounted by those who seek to perpetuate discrimination and stereotypes as an excuse for violence.” 

The Resolution, 113A, which had previously been vetted and passed by the ABA’s Criminal Justice Section, says in part that the ABA  “urges federal, state, local and territorial governments to take legislative action to curtail the availability and effectiveness of the ‘gay panic’ and ‘trans panic’ defenses, which seek to partially or completely excuse crimes such as murder and assault on the grounds that the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity is to blame for the defendant’s violent reaction,” according to the report of Gay Star News.  The Resolution goes on to say, “Such legislative action should include requiring courts in any criminal trial or proceeding, upon the request of a party, to instruct the jury not to let bias, sympathy, prejudice, or public opinion influence its decision about the victims, witnesses, or defendants based upon sexual orientation or gender identity; and specifying that neither a non-violent sexual advance, nor the discovery of a person’s sex or gender identity, constitutes legally adequate provocation to mitigate the crime of murder to manslaughter, or to mitigate the severity of any non-capital crime.”

Californians passed their 2006 law banning the use of Gay and Trans Panic defenses in response to the infamous 2002 slaying of transwoman Gwen Araujo of Newark, California by four male assailants who claimed that they panicked in “the heat of the moment” when they discovered Araujo’s biological identity.  The trial uncovered the truth, that both main defendants had sexual relations with Araujo for months prior to the gruesome murder, which they perpetrated by bludgeoning her into unconsciousness with a can of tomatoes and an iron frying pan.  Her attackers finished Araujo off by strangling her with a rope and beating her with a shovel.  Gwen’s murderers then drove her body four hours away from the San Francisco Bay area to bury her in a shallow grave in the Sierra Nevado mountains, where her remains lay undiscovered for several days.  All four defendants were found guilty of the killing, and were sentenced to prison after a series of three trials.  The two main defendants were sentenced to 15 years to life for second degree murder.  The consensus of legal opinion is that the Araujo trials went a far distance toward discrediting the Trans Panic defense for perpetrating violence against LGBTQ people.

In 2009, on what would have been Gwen Araujo’s 25th birthday had she lived, her mother Sylvia Guerrero called upon the American public to commemorate her transgender daughter’s life.  Speaking to the Examiner.com, Ms. Guerrero invited everyone to honor her child though acts of joy and service: “Light a candle, release a balloon, or do a good deed for someone less fortunate than yourself.  Thank you for keeping her memory alive.”  Now, Gwen Amber Rose Araujo has an even more lasting legacy with the ABA’s campaign to end the Trans Panic and Gay Panic excuses for violence in the American legal system forever.  Rest in peace, Sister.

August 15, 2013 Posted by | American Bar Association (ABA), anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Beatings and battery, Blame the victim, Bludgeoning, California, gay panic defense, GLBTQ, Gwen Araujo, Hate Crimes, hate crimes prevention, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, LGBTQ, National LGBT Bar Association, Strangulation, trans-panic defense, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Notorious Gay Panic and Trans Panic Legal Defenses Must End, Says American Bar Association

Gay New Mexico Teen Is Latest Victim of School Bullying

Carlos Vigil,17,  tormented to death by bullies during his senior year in high school.

Carlos Vigil, 17, tormented to death by bullies during his senior year in high school.

Albuquerque, New Mexico – A gay New Mexico teenager took his life, despairing after years of incessant bullying by classmates.  Carlos Vigil, 17, posted a heart-wrending Twitter post on Saturday, July 13, finally crumbling under the weight of the epithets and ridicule his classmates put on him.  The tweet, posted as a screen capture by EveryJoe.com, reads in part: “I’m sorry to those who I offended over the years.  I’m blind to see that I, as a human being, suck.  I’m an individual who is doing an injustice to the world and it’s time for me to go. . . I’m sorry that I wasn’t able to love someone or have someone love me.  I guess it’s best, though, because now I leave no pain onto anyone.  The kids in school are right, I am a loser, a freak, and a fag and in no way is that acceptable for people to deal with.  I’m sorry for not being a person that would make someone proud.”

Ending his tweet, Carlos texted, “I am free now.”  His father, who ironically had only recently returned from a conference in North Carolina where he had spoken out against anti-gay bullying in schools, saw the tweet, and rushed home, too late.  Carlos was sped to the University of New Mexico Medical Center in a coma.  Late Sunday night, his parents requested that doctors remove life support from their son, after his organs had been harvested to benefit others.

The pathos and horror of anti-gay bullying scream out from the story of Carlos Vigil.  His mother said to reporters that her boy had been bullied in some form or another for being perceived as different and effeminate since he was eight years old.  Lately, she said, Carlos had been dogged by hateful speech about his sexual orientation, his acne, his glasses, and his weight.  He and his family tried valiantly to withstand the bullying, complaining to school officials, and transferring from a nearby high school to Valley High where the latest wave of bullying crashed over him.  Carlos had counseled and consoled others who were verbally attacked, and his parents were constantly checking in to ask how he was doing.  He had spoken out against bullying himself.  But according to the New York Daily News, no one guessed at the depth of his own personal anguish until his sudden, untimely death.  Eddie Vargas, sports director of Warehouse 508, an Albuquerque youth entertainment and arts center that Carlos helped to establish, said, “It’s an eye-opener that it can happen to anybody. The people we think are the most confident can also be the ones who are hurting the most.” 

We should no longer be surprised that gay youth like Carlos who show compassion for the hurts of others often swim in oceans of despair that they alone are helpless to overcome.  Carlos had deeply supportive parents who loved him just the way he was.  But the depth of the pain of a youth who had been bullied since the third grade was beyond usual measures of love, support, and affection.  Prevention is the best remedy for the multitude of LGBTQ and gender variant youth who take their own lives as a consequence of the rejection and hate speech to which they are subjected in school among their peers.  Teachers and administrators, clergy, health professionals, lawmakers, and cultural icons must act decisively to stem the tide of gay teen suicide by refusing to see LGBTQ youth as “the problem,” and, while knowing and acting on the signs of youth in trouble, must defend vulnerable boys and girls by making any hint of school bullying a serious offense.  Bullies need help, too.  So do the families of bullies who often enact what they hear at home, or act out from experiences of torment themselves.

Now, Carlos’s family is asking for everyone to work hard to prevent another useless, senseless death like his.  Early this morning, apparently unable to sleep well, his father and mother tweeted this note on their son’s Twitter account: “Carlos is finally at peace! Thank you everyone for your support and prayers. Please don’t forget what he wanted STOP THE BULLYING!”

If anyone is in need of a listening, sympathetic ear, call the Trevor Project Helpline, 24/7, to speak to a real person who will reach out to you: 1-866-488-7386.  Don’t wait! Call Now!

July 17, 2013 Posted by | Bullycide, Bullying in schools, gay teens, Gender Variant Youth, GLBTQ, harassment, Heterosexism and homophobia, Internalized homophobia, Latinos, LGBT teen suicide prevention, LGBTQ, LGBTQ suicide, New Mexico, Slurs and epithets, suicide, Trevor Project | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Gay New Mexico Teen Is Latest Victim of School Bullying

Attacker Arrested for Brutal Transgender Beating in Hollywood

Vivian Diego, 22, speaks out for justice after being attacked on May 31 by a gang of transphobic men. (Advocate Image)

Vivian Diego, 22, speaks out for justice after being attacked on May 31 by a gang of transphobic men. (CBS 2 Image)

Hollywood, California – A man has been arrested in the savage beating case involving a transgender woman last month.  Nicol Shakhnazayan, 21, was taken into custody by detectives of the Los Angeles Police Department and charged with felony battery of a woman.  Shakhnazayan, whose arrest happened a day after Los Angeles city leaders posted a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the assailants in the case, is being held on $1.05 million bail, according to Gay Star News.  The victim, 22-year-old transgender woman Vivian Diego, was assaulted by four men shouting transphobic and homophobic slurs.  The assault took place late on the night of May 31 near a Metro stop at Hollywood and Ivar, after Ms. Diego finished her shift as a barista at Beso Restaurant.  CBS Los Angeles reports that video of the attack on Ms. Diego helped in making the arrest of the first suspect.  Lt. Marc Reina of the LAPD told CBS2: “One of the members of the group ran after Vivian and struck her from behind, knocking her to the ground. The remaining members of the group then joined in brutally assaulting Vivian by repeatedly kicking her, even while she lay motionless on the sidewalk.”

Ms. Diego described the horror and pain of the attack in vivid terms: “It was awful. I wouldn’t wish the pain I went through on my worst enemy.”  She sustained a broken jaw, a smashed cheekbone, bruises, and two cracked ribs.  Her family remains solidly in support of her, calling on the police and city officials to bring the other perpetrators of this hate crime to justice.

As she recovers, Ms. Diego, whose mouth is wired shut, communicated optimism and determination through her pain.  She is proud to be a transgender woman.  “I am not letting this incident, this attack stop me from living my life,” she said to CBS News. “As you can see, I’m still fabulous.”

June 25, 2013 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, California, Gang violence, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Latino and Latina Americans, LGBTQ, Slurs and epithets, Stomping and Kicking Violence, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Attacker Arrested for Brutal Transgender Beating in Hollywood

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