Samsom Park, Texas – A fundamentalist pastor west of Fort Worth carried hate speech and religious intolerance of LGBTQ people to a new low in the wake of the Orlando Pulse Nightclub Massacre. Donnie Romero, leader of Stedfast Baptist Church, a small, independent, exceedingly angry group, stirred opposition by declaring that the cold blooded murder of LGBT people in Orlando, Florida on June 12 was God’s judgment upon the victims.
In starkly bigoted language, Romero went on to declare that his only regret about the massacre was that no one had finished what the shooter had started. Anticipating that members of the LGBTQ community might picket his small storefront church, Romero publicly declared that since members of his church were Texans who had weapon permits, protestors just might get shot.
The Rapid Response group, I AM DONE, organized a protest of Romero’s religious bigotry and carried out the direct action across the highway from Stedfast Baptist Church on Sunday morning, June 26. An estimated 50 protestors from across North Texas, protected by police from four local municipalities including Sansom Park, where the church is physically located, Lake View, Lake Worth, and Fort Worth, sang, chanted call-and-response, waved signs proclaiming Love, and read the names of the Orlando victims through a bullhorn during the church hour. The Texas heat was oppressive, but the protest was deemed successful since Romero’s hate speech had been answered forcefully but peacefully.
The following are the remarks Rev. Dr. Stephen V. Sprinkle of Brite Divinity School delivered at the protest, entitled: “Lament, Discover, and Repair.”
The Orlando massacre has forced America to stare into the abyss of our broken society. We have recoiled from what we have seen: not only the brutality of fear and loathing that took so many lives at the Pulse nightclub that night, but also the sickening complicity of a national culture that has set up the conditions for the slaughter of our people for generations.
Our feelings of remorse and loss are real and sharply painful; our burning anger is hot and real, as well.
But we cannot allow the abyss of race hatred, misogyny and heterosexist privilege to paralyze us with fear or anger — not again!
If others must continue the endless finger-pointing, let them. Not us, not again, not now!
We have a gaping hole in the American character to fix, and it will take all of us to do it, queer folk of faith, faith-free queer folk and allies alike. The spiritual resources that belong to American LGBTQ people are at hand, and we must discover how to use them to heal our broken hearts, our troubled minds, and to repair the ruins that yawn up at us from the abyss that bears so many names:
Mother Emanuel A.M.E.
Sandy Hook Elementary
The Upstairs Lounge Inferno
Wisconsin Sikh Temple
Sixteenth Street Baptist Church
Aurora, Colorado, and
Virginia Tech, and more.
We must act according to the sources of our power, no matter what makes us afraid. The practice of lament clears the spiritual space that makes effective action possible.
Sadness can empower our souls as well as dis-empower them. We can erect shrines that tie us to the past, or we can discover the power to lament as a people until hope takes the place of despair.
Phyllis Trible, the ground-breaking author of Texts of Terror who told the stories of the wrong done to biblical women, has said that mourning alone changes little. But true change comes from insight, a change that can inspire individuals and even a whole generation to repentance.
She writes: “In other words, sad stories may yield new beginnings.”
God knows, we have sad stories, and plenty of them. What we must find is the courage to cry out in public acts of lament that change despair into hope.
Rabbi Denise Eger, lesbian and president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, shows us how to turn sorrow into a new kind of power for good:
“Sister that I never held near,
Brother that I never embraced, our memory is almost lost:
The one we don’t talk about.
The loving one who never married.
The one for whom no Kaddish was said.
Your loneliness calls out to me:
I know of your struggles, we are not strangers,
And if my path is easier, I will not forget who walked it first.
We call you to mind, but did you not sometimes think of us,
Your children, lovers across the years,
Those who would follow and would think of you and bless your memory
And call you to mind?
With David and Jonathan, we will not forget you,
With Ruth and Naomi, we will not forget you,
In the name of God you are our sisters and our brothers, and we ask that you be remembered for peace.”
When we cry out to God from the depths of our collective sorrow, as my friend, Dean Joretta Marshall, of Brite Divinity School says, we begin to discover new possibilities for memory, compassion, empathy, and vision.
As we collaborate publicly in acts of lament when we are overwhelmed, we discover new ways to collaborate together in “life-giving hope.”
Protests are important, but they do not capture the spiritual power of crying out together so that our despair may turn into hope, and inspiration gives our activism fresh ideas to address the venom the LGBTQ community faces, much of it inflicted in the name of religion.
Sorrow is not a destination. We need movements, not monuments or shrines, movements of “life-giving hope.” So, together, before all the world, with our enemies included, we cry out until despair begins to transform into something new.
We remember before God the tens of thousands of our LGBTQ family martyred in years gone by. We remember those who died in the Inquisition, the Middle Passage, the Witch Craze, the Holocaust, and the struggle for civil rights.
We refuse to forget those, driven to despair by a world that hated them and who they loved, who took their own lives rather than face any longer the intolerable.
And we cannot forget those who lived out their days lonely, repressed, and afraid to reach out for affection and comfort, too hurt to give or receive the love they craved.
To us, in the memories we share in our seasons of lament, they have all become the martyrs of God, signs that we must make the world better than they found it. In the name of love, we pray, “O God, remember the sacrifices of these martyrs, and help us to bring and end to hate and oppression of every kind!”
We say and we believe that “Love Wins!” But in the struggle to repair the world, we have learned that love must be ferocious to win the new world we seek for ourselves, our children, and for everyone.
The story of the struggle for our human rights has lessons to teach, and one of the undeniable lessons of our history is that LGBTQ people have never been “given” anything. The heterosexist society in which we live never surrenders its power willingly. Our freedom has had to be won.
If our great theme is LOVE, from the right to love the one we choose, or the love of country that inspired us to defy Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, to the love of human life itself because we are a people who are represented everywhere — in every group and race, and in every known social demographic from the beginning of recorded history — then we know from our own collective experience that love must be fierce in order for it to survive.
There is something divine in love like that, a divine imperative that will not be forestalled any longer, or postponed, or sidetracked. From the days of our forebears in the 19th century, we began to network across the boundaries of nations, to count the ever growing number of ourselves, and to realize that we were a powerful people united by a new sense of the possibilities of love.
Today, we are strengthened by amazing allies from every walk of life who understand that their future and ours are bound up with us in a contest to determine whether diversity and pluralism will prevail in our world, or whether patriarchal fear of immigrants, gender non-conformity, non-Caucasian people, and non-Judeo-Christian faiths — fears intensified by the rejection of the leadership gifts of women — will drag us backward.
Our most powerful ally in LGBTQ history, President Barack Obama, has shown us what a love with real backbone looks like. Like many of our allies, the president had to evolve in this thinking about what justice and equality for LGBTQ people called him to do. Once he got there, to the place of true equality and justice, he became our full-throated advocate.
His spiritual mentor, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., taught him to face challenges with “the fierce urgency of now.” We LGBTQ people found that vision to resonate powerfully with our experiences of struggle beyond any counted cost, and, inspired by President Obama, we have recast Dr. King’s idea in our own way. We serve a vision inspired by “the fierce urgency of love.”
“The fierce urgency of love”:
Love that refuses to be anemic in the face of hard times.
Love that has a spine, and bows before no opponent.
Love that will not back down, and will not back up.
Love that knows how and when to get loud and be proud.
A love where Everybody is Somebody, and nobody is a nobody.
Our activism at its best is motivated by the fierce urgency of a love that will not permit churches, synagogues, and mosques to remain silent on the sidelines of the struggle for justice, for silence in the face of injustice is its own form of spiritual violence.
The fierce urgency of love compels us to give no free passes when religious leaders of any stripe breathe out venom and hatred toward marginalized people. That is why we oppose religious intolerance to the same degree we oppose political and economic harms done to LGBTQ people in North Texas and anywhere else.
We have learned the lessons of ferocious love: that hate speech from any pulpit or from any rostrum in a governmental chamber is the ammunition that kills and maims real people, as surely as any bullet. We cannot permit any leader to hijack religion and force it into the service of oppression of any kind any longer without our calling out such an outrage.
As Rev. Dr. Cody J. Sanders, the pastor of Old Cambridge Baptist Church near Harvard Yard, a proud gay man says:
“For LGBTQ people, the mechanisms of oppression have nearly always been waged first against our souls. But it never ends there. This spiritual violence has led to innumerable suicides, hate crime violence beyond what we know through the collected statistics, and the marginalization of LGBTQ people in the very institutions they should feel most at home: their families, their churches, and their communities.”
Sanders calls for spiritual reparations for the harm done to the souls of LGBTQ people, a fierce love of God and neighbor that seeks to heal the hurt and repair the broken world. Like Sanders, in the name of love, we must fiercely call for real and practical actions:
For LGBTQ homeless youth in our cities,
For effective ways to prevent LGBTQ suicides,
For funding for LGBTQ seminarians so that they can become faith leaders throughout America,
For the recruitment of qualified LGBTQ candidates to run for public office,
For literacy in LGBTQ life and history, and engagement between established cisgender and straight clergy with queer leaders in their communities, and especially
For churches and religion-based non-profits to stand up to their denominations and parent organizations when they participate in anti-LGBTQ discrimination by thought, deed, or silence.
Sanders concludes with the forthright demand of a community that knows how to stand tall and true, and has the courage to repair a broken world even in the face of spiritual opposition:
“Churches owe LGBTQ people a spiritual debt,” he says, “for the decades upon decades of violence against our souls. It’s time to start paying up.”
The Hebrew prophets sounded like that, didn’t they? That is an important dimension of the spiritual heritage of the LGBTQ human rights movement that was first born and nurtured in churches and synagogues in the pre-Stonewall era, and right up until this very day.
I work alongside lesbian, gay, and straight colleagues of courage at Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, who like Cody Sanders, want to transform the world in which we live. So, with the whole Cloud of Witnesses, from the time of the Hebrew Prophets, Jesus of Nazareth, and the Prophet Muhammad, to the millions of LGBTQ people and our allies right here and right now, together with the Prophet Isaiah, we say:
Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you,
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.
Our greatest asset as a Queer/LGBT community, you see, lies in far more than our numbers, our economic strength, and our political allies. It lies in our spirituality of collaborating hope, hope forged in the furnace of our tests and trials, made powerful by the vision of a better world than we have ever known.
Our enemies are real. Their guns and their words spit fire and death. They misunderstand, sometimes with lethal consequences, who we are and what we contribute to the common world in which we all dwell.
But we know wherein our power truly lies, for as our Sister Outsider, Audre Lorde, taught us, “When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”
Rise up, then!
We LGBTQ people were never meant to settle into paralysis, depression and despair on the far side of the pit our adversaries dug for us. It is time to build a bridge across the abyss that swallowed up our Orlando sisters and brothers. Bring your energies, your tools, and your resolve. We have at hand the resources of a rich spirituality, and a fierce, divine love.
There is a world to repair.
July 2, 2016 Posted by unfinishedlives | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Anti-LGBT hate crimes, Brite Divinity School, Donnie Romero, Dr. Stephen V. Sprinkle, Florida, GLBTQ, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, I AM DONE, LGBTQ, LGBTQ clergy, Mass shooting, Orlando, Protests and Demonstrations, Pulse Nightclub, religious hate speech, religious intolerance, Social Justice Advocacy, Stedfast Baptist Church, Texas, transphobia | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Brite Divinity School, Donnie Romero, Florida, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, Mass shooting, Orlando, Protests and Demonstrations, Pulse Nightclub, religious hate speech, religious intolerance, Social Justice Advocacy, Stedfast Baptist Church, Texas, transphobia | Comments Off on LGBT Community Protests Extremist Hate Speech After Orlando
Busan and Seoul, South Korea – Gay Christians and their Affirming Allies from the World Council of Churches (WCC) took to the streets in Busan and Seoul to show their support for LGBTQ people this week, in open defiance of the large, well-funded conservative opponents of equality for the sexual minority. Declaring that “Gays are God’s Creation, Too!” dozens of gay affirming clergy and lay people from countries around the world joined local progressive Christians to push back against the ostracism the conservative Protestant establishment wants to maintain against any gay or lesbian who dares to come out openly in the Republic of Korea. The Korea Times covered the event, citing the Rev. Daniel Payne and Jun-Young Lee of Open Doors Community Church, a Seoul-based progressive Christian Church that welcomes gays and straights alike. In a statment to the press, the Affirming protesters decried harm and abuse condoned by the religious establishment in South Korea, declaring such oppression to be against the teachings of Jesus Christ: “We underscore once again that the violent bigotry against sexual minorities in the name of Christianity fully contradicts the Christian mandate to love thy neighbor. We declare as follows as we unite and pray together so that this social abuse in Korean society will be ended.” The gay-friendly protests took place in Gwanghwamun Square in central Seoul.
A “Confucianized-Christian” establishment in South Korea continues to make this East Asian nation reject homosexuality on biblical and moral grounds, exalting patriarchal versions of faith and family to seal the deal. But progressive Christians, gay and straight, are emerging with their religious and secular allies to demand full equality and dignity for Korea’s sexual minority. Citing the Bible from an intelligent, informed interpretation that refutes the literalism customary in most Protestant churches in South Korea, these progressive Christians are making a growing case for the protection and inclusion of LGBTQ people throughout the Land of Morning Calm.
Establishment Protestant leaders who are embarrassed by the open hostility towards the World Council of Churches meeting in Busan this week are having to rethink their opposition to gay equality, rightly concerned about being lumped into a troubled fundamentalist power structure that bears little or no resemblance to the Christian teachings on the creation of all people in God’s image and likeness, and the Good News of God’s Love. Reports circulated in Seoul that religious zealots were transporting human excrement to Busan to spray on WCC delegates, much as they had at the same-sex wedding of gay filmmaker Kim Jho Gwang-soo in September.
November 4, 2013 Posted by unfinishedlives | GLBTQ, hate crimes prevention, Heterosexism and homophobia, Homosexuality and the Bible, Kim Jho Kwang-soo, LGBTQ, Open Doors Community Church Korea, Protests and Demonstrations, religious intolerance, Social Justice Advocacy, South Korea, World Council of Churches (WCC) | GLBTQ, hate crimes prevention, Heterosexism and homophobia, Homosexuality and the Bible, LGBTQ, Open Doors Community Church, Protests and Demonstrations, religious intolerance, Social Justice Advocacy, South Korea, World Council of Churches (WCC) | Comments Off on Gays and Allies Defy Anti-Gay Activists at WCC in Korea
New York, New York – A direct action protest leader of the the gay community in New York City was attacked Monday night in yet another anti-gay hate crime attack as the city’s Gay Pride celebrations approach. Eugene Lovendusky, co-founder and organizer for the LGBTQ activist organization, Queer Rising, was attacked by a group of 9 to ten people shouting “faggot” as they beat and punched him. His jaw was severely injured in the assault. Reports from friends say that the beating took place in the Theater District. The list of areas now demonstrably unsafe for LGBTQ people now include, besides the Theater District, Midtown Manhattan near Madison Square Garden, East Village, West Village, SoHo, Chelsea, and Greenwich Village. Lovendusky, a teacher of young children in New York, is well-regarded as an unapologetic voice for human rights. The New Civil Rights Movement reports that Lovendusky’s friends spread the word throughout the internet world almost as soon as the attack occurred.
Outrage throughout the New York Queer community spread rapidly upon news of the homophobic attack. Scott Wooledge, founder of Memeographs Studio, wrote on his Facebook page: “This hits home as I know this man personally. There have been a spree of anti-gay hate crimes in New York City this month. As people are unable to enforce their bigotry by laws and policies, they will turn to expressing their impotent hate on the streets.”
Wooledge went to to address the perpetrators of the rising crime wave of violence against LGBT people in New York and around the nation: “I can’t do much to help make the world safer for my friends. But I have a platform, and I’m sending out this message to gay bashers: ‘You can kick us. You can punch us. You can shoot us dead as you did Mark Carson and Harvey Milk. But the LGBT community will not go back to the days before Stonewall Riots and DADT repeal. We will not abandon our righteous claim to be treated equally under the US Constitution and the laws of our states. You will lose eventually. And eventually we LGBT people will meet our respective Gods with our hands clean of blood.'”
Another Facebook contributor,Tasha Wiegand, vented her frustrations, as well. “I cannot begin to express my feelings of disgust, anger, frustration, and horror for the kind of behavior that leads some people to express hate and violence towards others,” Wiegand posted.
Daniel Lawson, a political activist involved with President Obama’s re-election and now Organizing for America, wrote on his Facebook wall: “So it turns out that the latest victim of the antigay violent crimewave is someone whom I know personally and have worked with at queer demonstrations/events around NYC. Unf—ingbelievable. This has all gone miles beyond the limit. Shit just got real. Lookout homophobes, you have some very angry NYC queers on your hands.”
Using social media, a group of LGBTQ people led by Alan Leo Bounville, founder of the In Our Words Project, rallied for and informational protest against the attacks on Lovendusky and others on Friday night at the corner of 7th Avenue and 34th Street. The peaceful protest engaged passers-by and answered their questions about what it is like for queer people in the city to live through this mounting tide of dehumanizing attacks. Members of the rallying group carried signs saying, “I’m a Homosexual. #Ask Questions.”
The irony of this latest attack has not been lost on many in the New York City Queer community. Lovendusky helped organize the first street protest against the outbreak of anti-LGBTQ violence in the city, including ongoing protests by Queer Rising against the murder of openly gay man, Mark Carson, who was fatally shot in the face last Saturday at point blank range by man who laughed and bragged about his actions. As co-founder of Queer Rising, Lovendusky leads his peers and allies throughout the metro area to direct action in support of extending full and equal rights and protections to queer people of ever description. As Lovendusky wrote on the Queer Rising blog site, “Formed in late 2009 by people tired of watching LGBTQ rights put on the back burner or given no attention at all, Queer Rising vows to continue to pressure legislators and the public until all queer people are equal.”
The spate of recent attacks in the cradle of the Gay and Queer Rights movement challenges members of the LGBTQ community and officials of the City of New York to act decisively, both to win the hearts and minds of average citizens to non-violent acceptance of queer folk, and to secure all residents from bias motivated acts of terror such as these.
May 26, 2013 Posted by unfinishedlives | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, gay bashing, gay men, Gay Pride Month, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, New York, New York City, Protests and Demonstrations, Queer, Queer Rising, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, New York, New York City, Protests and Demonstrations, Queer Rising, Queers, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, Unsolved anti-LGBT crimes | Comments Off on Gay Activist Attacked in Wave of Hate Crimes Against New York City’s LGBTQ Community
Gay Philly Party Promoter and Gay Hispanic Couple Attacked in New York City as Hate Crime Spree Widens
New York City, New York – The spread of anti-gay violence continued Tuesday night with an attack on an openly gay party promoter, and in a separate incident, upon a gay couple, both occurring in East Village. Just hours after thousands marched in the streets of New York to demand justice for the mounting number of gay victims of homophobic brutality, Dan Contarino tweeted that he was assaulted by men shouting anti-gay epithets. He posted on Facebook that about 10:30 pm he was punched and kicked by a group of hostile men who called him “faggot.” Neighbors rushed to his aid, and the attackers ran into the night. NY Police are searching for the suspects, but no one has yet been arrested for the hate crime as of this writing.
According to Nightlifegay.com, Contarino, a Philadelphian who promotes Shampoo Nightclub’s “Shaft” Parties on Friday nights, wrote: “THANKS FOR CALLS…. GAY BASHED LAST NITE…. back from small surgery…. CHEST XRAYS THIS AM…. suspect still at large… police n media waiting to interview me… U JUST WANNA CRY N MOVE ON….” and later Contarino posted, “UGH…. THIS IS JUST AS BRUTAL AS the ATTACK…. 3 hours… 8 detective interviews… now waiting for Hate Crimes Unit main interview… THEN BACK TO HOSPITAL….”
Nightlife Gay’s blogger Bruce Yelk posted that he had spoken to Contarino personally after the attack: “I talked with Dan last night and this morning and he is very shaken and as you can see by the photo banged up pretty good. I am thankful it was not worse as NYC’s hate crime spree continues.” Yelk then summed up how many in the Greater New York City Metropolitan area are feeling today about the the growing epidemic of anti-gay violence in a city that prides itself on LGBTQ acceptance. “Shock, outrage, anger sums up how I am feeling today as one of my very good friends was gay bashed last night in New York City,” he wrote Tuesday.
Earlier in the day, according to NBC New York, a gay Hispanic couple were assaulted in SoHo, on Broadway between Prince and Houston Streets. Police reports say that the gay men were attacked at about 5 am by two assailants shouting homophobic slurs in both English and Spanish. The victims, 41 and 42 years old respectively, were punched and beaten, and one of the men suffered an injury to his eye. Two suspects, 31 and 32, were quickly apprehended by NYPD officers, and are facing assault as a hate crime charges. Mayor Michael Bloomberg spoke out forcefully against the attacks on LGBT people in his city. “New York City has zero tolerance for intolerance,” the Mayor said at a news conference on Tuesday. “We are a place that celebrates diversity … hate crimes like these are an offense against all we stand for as a city, and we will do everything possible to stop them.”
With Gay Pride Month just around the corner, in June, and no end in sight for the spike in bias motivated crimes against LGBTQ people in the city where the modern Gay Pride and Human Rights movement was born, something swift and strong needs to happen if queer folk are to start feeling safe in New York City again.
May 21, 2013 Posted by unfinishedlives | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, LGBTQ, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York, New York City, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, hate crimes legislation, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino / Latina Americans, LGBTQ, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York, New York City, Protests and Demonstrations, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, Unsolved anti-LGBT crimes | Comments Off on Gay Philly Party Promoter and Gay Hispanic Couple Attacked in New York City as Hate Crime Spree Widens
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.”
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 unfinishedlives | 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 | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Bullying in schools, Christine Quinn, gay bashing, gay men, gay teens, GLBTQ, gun violence, Hate Crime Statistics, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, LGBTQ teen suicide, National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), New York, New York City, Protests and Demonstrations, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, Stonewall, Stonewall Riots, transgender persons, transphobia | Comments Off on Savage Anti-Gay Murder in NYC Highlights Increasing Danger for LGBT People
Dallas, Texas – The founder and director of the Unfinished Lives Project, Dr. Stephen V. Sprinkle, has been officially accepted as a Blogger for the Huffington Post. Dr. Sprinkle’s inaugural blog post on the civil disobedience of a gay Louisville, Kentucky Baptist preacher and his spouse may be found by clicking here. Josh Fleet, representing the Huffington Post Blog Team, informed Dr. Sprinkle that his post had been accepted and posted Sunday on the Religion Page of the highly respected and widely read progressive news and opinion source. He will be a continuing Blogger for the Religion Page, which is overseen by the Rev. Dr. Paul Raushenbush as Senior Editor.
Sprinkle ventured into the cyber world as a blogger in June 2008 with the launch of Unfinishedlivesblog.com, a web forum for news, opinion, and discussion concerning the alarming rise of anti-LGBTQ violence in American life. With nearly 500,000 hits on the site currently, a notable achievement for a blog done by an academic and a theologian, the future of Unfinishedlivesblog.com looks promising. The continuing readership of the blog is, of course, largely due to the unabated rise in hate crimes murders perpetrated against the LGBTQ community since the Matthew Shepard, James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act was signed into federal law by President Barack Obama in October 2009. Anti-violence programs throughout the United States, as well as the Hate Crimes Program of the FBI have registered higher numbers of bias-drivien murders perpetrated against LGBTQ people in each of the three years since the Shepard Act became the law of the land–and activists see no signs of these horrific statistics lessening in the near term. Sprinkle and the Unfinished Lives Project Team have chronicled this dismaying increase in anti-gay violence throughout the years.
Originally conceived as a supporting platform for the publication of Dr. Sprinkle’s IPPY award winning book on LGBTQ hate crimes murders in the U.S., Unfinished Lives: Reviving the Memories of LGBTQ Hate Crimes Victims (Resource Publications, 2011), Unfinishedlivesblog quickly took on a life of its own, thanks to the cyber know-how of two savvy divinity school students, Todd W. Simmons of Houston, Texas, and Adam D.J. Brett of Syracuse, New York. As time passed, Huffington Post became an invaluable source of information on anti-LGBTQ hate crimes and the responses of the queer and religious communities to these outrages. “Being named a Blogger for HuffPo brings the spiritual and cyber journey of my activist life to a new milestone,” Sprinkle said in response to the news of his selection.
The brave story of the non-violent protest against Kentucky’s repressive anti-gay and anti-same-sex marriage laws by Rev. Maurice “Bojangles” Blanchard, and his spouse, Dominique James, sparked a passion in him to write about this news for a wider audience than a personal blog can reach, Sprinkle said. The unflinching support offered by Blanchard and James’s pastor, the Rev. Joe Phelps, and the congregation of Highland Baptist Church, Lousiville, was also a feature of the story that begged to be shared broadly with the Baptist world, and beyond. The parent blog post that gave rise to the Huffington Post piece can be found by clicking here.
Sprinkle is himself a openly gay man and an ordained Baptist preacher (with the Alliance of Baptists) who has recently celebrated his 36th year of ordination. He is the Director of Field Education and Supervised Ministry at Fort Worth’s Brite Divinity School, a post that he has held since 1994. Sprinkle is Professor of Practical Theology, and the first openly gay scholar to be tenured in the 99-year history of the school. He also serves as Theologian-in-Residence for Cathedral of Hope in Dallas, a congregation of the United Church of Christ, and the largest liberal Christian Church in the world with a primary outreach to the LGBTQ community.
January 27, 2013 Posted by unfinishedlives | Alliance of Baptists, Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Brite Divinity School, Cathedral of Hope, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crime Statistics, Highland Baptist Church, Huffington Post, Huffington Post Religion Page, Independent Book Awards (IPPYs), LGBTQ, Marriage Equality, Matthew Shepard Act, Maurice "Bojangles" Blanchard, Same-sex marriage, Social Justice Advocacy, Unfinished Lives Book, Unfinishedlivesblog.com | Alliance of Baptists, Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Brite Divinity School, Cathedral of Hope, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Highland Baptist Church, Huffington Post, Huffington Post Religion Page, Independent Book Awards (IPPYs), LGBTQ, Marriage Equality, Matthew Shepard Act, Maurice "Bojangles" Blanchard, Protests and Demonstrations, Same-sex marriage, Social Justice Advocacy, Texas, Unfinished Lives book, Unfinished Lives Project, Unfinishedlivesblog.com | Comments Off on Breaking News: Unfinished Lives Project Founder Becomes Official Huffington Post Blogger
The facts of the protest action carried out by the Rev. Bojangles and Dominique are these: on Tuesday, January 22, the couple, wearing crosses on their ski caps, requested a license to marry from the Clerk’s Office, and were refused. When asked why she refused them, Ms. Sandy Byerly, manager of the license office, said that she was upholding the law of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, which wrote anti-gay discrimination into the state constitution in 2004 by an amendment saying that “only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be a marriage in Kentucky,” according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. Further, any clerk who willfully defies state law and issues a marriage license to a same-sex couple anyway will be removed from office and is subject to a year in jail. After the refusal by the clerk, the gay couple staged a peaceful pray-in until they were arrested and charged with trespassing at 5 p.m., when the clerk’s office closed for the day. Offered the option of being cited for the offense rather than being arrested, the Baptist preacher and his spouse told the Metro Police officer that they had a “spiritual obligation” to resist the injustice of a law that denied them their civil right to marriage. As the Rev. Bojangles said prior to entering the clerk’s office, “If we don’t act, we are accomplices in our own discrimination. We have to resist.” The couple was led to a waiting patrol car, and were transported to the Metro Corrections Center where they were booked. Jefferson County Clerk Bobbi Holsclaw told reporters that the ordained minister and his spouse were protesting in the wrong place. Instead of disturbing the clerk’s office, she said, they should instead have taken their argument up with the state legislature.
Selah (Hebrew for “pause”–found in the Book of Psalms).
The vast majority of Christians in the United States consider themselves law-abiding citizens, and shy away from public acts that defy law and order. Among ordained ministers, the aversion to any controversial word or deed, inside or outside of the congregation, is particularly high. Preachers, by-and-large, consider the office of prophet to be a historic artifact of First Testament history, not an obligation for modern spiritual shepherds. Prophetic action of the sort the good Reverend took in the county clerk’s office is decidedly not a career enhancing choice. Controversy in the ministry can get ministers fired, and their families booted out of the parsonage.
The Rev. Bojangles knew all of that–but he acted anyway, in obedience to the spiritual dictates of his conscience and in solidarity with LGBTQ people in over thirty states where same-sex marriage has been outlawed by constitutional amendment. As he told the Courier-Journal, he felt anxiety about the prospect of arrest, but he and his spouse of six years were “trusting in God and deeply called to do this.” They faced the humiliation and degradation of the refusal in the clerk’s office, they said, in order “to stand up for ourselves and countless others.”
Both gay men are members of Highland Baptist Church in Louisville, the church that ordained Bojangles in May of last year. Highland’s Pastor, the Rev. Joe Phelps, said that Bojangles and Dominique let him know what they were going to do prior to the peaceful protest. Pastor Joe also acknowledged that he understood there would be considerable friction for the church because of what these two Baptists were intending to do. Yet, neither he nor the good Baptists of Highland Church have flinched at the storm of publicity whipped up since their Timothy (a term for a member ordained by a local church to the ministry, harking back to the example of the Apostle Paul’s protégé Timothy) and his husband withstood the anti-gay, anti-same-sex marriage law. In a public statement to the church and the world at large, Pastor Joe wrote on January 24, “As for my reaction to Bojangles and Dominique’s action: I’m proud to pastor a church where members are willing to put their reputations on the line in order to challenge unjust laws in a manner that is respectful and non-violent.”
While Christians and others of good conscience may justly disagree over the specifics of the deeds of Bojangles and Dominique, and in general oppose one another’s views on same-sex marriage and the status of LGBTQ people in the church of Jesus Christ, Pastor Joe said he had to stand with his parishioners, and he believed that their sisters and brothers in the faith should, as well. “And I do believe that the laws against same-sex marriage are unjust,” he went on to say. “We experienced the consequence of this just last week, when the five-year partner of a man in critical condition in the ER had to wait several hours until a ‘legitimate’ next-of-kin arrived before being told that he had died on the scene.”
Pastor Joe concluded, “There can be debate about whether the arrest is good or bad for the cause of civil rights for LGBT persons, but that they acted with integrity and the convictions of their hearts cannot be debated.”
Such words and deeds are rare in any Christian circles these days, on the so-called religious right or progressive left. Matter of fact, putting words like “gay,” “ordained Baptist minister,” and “civil disobedience” together affirmatively in the same sentence feels like a bald-faced oxymoron: a brain-aching contradiction in terms! But given the damage done to the lives, psyches, and families of LGBTQ people in the name of religion, decisive action to reverse the course of prejudice in the faith community looks essential, if the church is to be true to its Savior and its own soul. These days, encounters with such amazing oxymorons may be the only way the church can be awakened to its true role in society: speaking and acting FOR the underdogs of this world, and not against them.
Some might call the stand Pastor Joe, the Rev. Bojangles, and Br. Dominique took as action “for the sake of Jesus Christ” as well as for the underdogs of today’s world. Professor of New Testament Leander E. Keck wrote in his landmark book, Who Is Jesus? History in Perfect Tense, that voluntarily becoming despicable in the eyes of society is a powerful characteristic of taking up Jesus’ work among the outcast and the despised of every age–in effect, facing the risks “for Jesus’ sake.” Of such courageous souls, Keck notes, “Such persons usually do not talk of their own suffering but talk of others’ for whose sake they are ready to accept what may befall them.” In this day and age, these words could have been penned expressly for oxymoronic Baptist preachers and those who cherish them who stand up to the opprobrium heaped on LGBTQ people. “Such voluntarily suffering,” Keck wrote, “has two names: one is love, the other is Jesus–in perfect tense” (p. 183).
Will the real Christians of this age please stand up? Some are, apparently, accepting despicable consequences on behalf of the outcasts, and “for Jesus’ sake,” as well.
January 27, 2013 Posted by unfinishedlives | Baptist Church, gay men, GLBTQ, Kentucky, KY, Law and Order, LGBTQ, Marriage Equality, Maurice "Bojangles" Blanchard, Protests and Demonstrations, Public Theology, religious intolerance, Same-sex marriage, Social Justice Advocacy | Baptist Church, Baptist ministers, civil disobedience, gay men, gay rights, GLBTQ, Highland Baptist Church, Kentucky, Law and Order, LGBTQ, Marriage Equality, Maurice "Bojangles" Blanchard, Protests and Demonstrations, religious intolerance, Same-sex marriage, Social Justice Advocacy | 5 Comments
Birmingham, Alabama – Today (September 15) marks the 49th anniversary of the senseless murder of four little girls attending Sunday School at 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama: Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, and Addie Mae Collins who were 14, and Denise McNair who was 12. The church was bombed on September 15, 1963 by a Ku Klux Klan related group in a vain attempt to terrorize the African American community. The nation was stunned by the news, and virtually overnight, these four young innocents became the leading figures in a renewed non-violent Civil Rights movement led by Christian clergy. Non-violent outrage over their deaths, arguably, became the impetus for the greatest achievement of the black liberation movement in the United States: the Voter Rights Act of 1965.
Wesley, Robertson, Collins, and McNair should, of course, be remembered perpetually for the loss of their young lives to race hatred in the great Civil Rights struggle of the 1960s. But this year, their loss, and the response of the African American Christian community to their outrageous murders at the time, is a lesson the world needs most acutely. In the wake of violence throughout the Muslim world over a blasphemous online video defaming the Prophet, and the mounting death toll of American diplomats and Muslim demonstrators, the world needs to pause, take a deep breath, remember the 16th Street children, and choose better ways of protest.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a movingly personal speech Thursday in the aftermath of attacks on U.S. diplomatic missions in the Middle East, calling on religions of the world to affirm non-violence rather than bloodshed. ABC OTUS News reports that Secretary Clinton, speaking at an Eid ul-Fitr reception marking the end of the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, decried both the “inflammable and despicable” anti-Islamic film circulating on the internet, and the violence that took the lives of four Americans at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. While all religions inevitably face insults and defamation, she said, the way in which believers choose to respond to these affronts is what separates people of true faith from pretenders who use such events as excuses to lash out with violence. “When Christians are subject to insults to their faith, and that certainly happens, we expect them not to resort to violence. When Hindus or Buddhists are subjected to insults to their faiths, and that also certainly happens, we expect them not to resort to violence,” Clinton said. “The same goes for all faiths, including Islam.”
Speaking out of her own faith as a United Methodist Christian, Secretary Clinton went on to say, “I so strongly believe that the great religions of the world are stronger than any insults. They have withstood offense for centuries. Refraining from violence, then, is not a sign of weakness in one’s faith; it is absolutely the opposite, a sign that one’s faith is unshakable.” Rather than take the path of violence, she said, when one person acts with violence, a million should respond with deeds of religious tolerance and reconciliation. Instead of amplifying hatred, she concluded, each of us must commit ourselves to acts of religious tolerance in our own communities of faith.
Reflecting on the lessons of the 16th Street martyrs, the verdict of history is that only the power of love can conquer senseless hatred–the sort of love typified by the non-violent Southern Christian Leadership Conference in the wake of irrational hate crimes like the murders of four little girls nearly fifty years ago. Hate crimes are brutal teachers, but the precepts they teach can lead toward justice and hope, and away from hatred and fear. The difference is the choices we make and the deeds we do. When confronted with savagery, African American Christians and their allies answered with courage and a greater love–love for what is best in faith, what is best in society, and what is supreme in human experience: the power of reconciliation and hope.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in his eulogy for the four little girls on September 18, 1963, said to the grieving city of Birmingham:
“These tragic deaths may lead our nation to substitute an aristocracy of character for an aristocracy of color. The spilled blood of these innocent girls may cause the whole citizenry of Birmingham to transform the negative extremes of a dark past into the positive extremes of a bright future. Indeed this tragic event may cause the white South to come to terms with its conscience. And so I stand here to say this afternoon to all assembled here, that in spite of the darkness of this hour, we must not despair. We must not become bitter, nor must we harbor the desire to retaliate with violence. No, we must not lose faith in our white brothers. Somehow we must believe that the most misguided among them can learn to respect the dignity and the worth of all human personality.”
Never has the challenge to true hearts been greater than today. The lessons of our forebears and the martyrs who preceded us point away from fear and violence and toward justice and love. The Unfinished Lives Project Team, then, offers this simple prayer for a better world: “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”
September 15, 2012 Posted by unfinishedlives | African Americans, Alabama, Hate Crimes, Racism, religious intolerance, Remembrances, Social Justice Advocacy, U.S. State Department | 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, African Americans, Alabama, Christianity, Civil Rights Movement, Hate Crimes, Islam, Libya, Martin Luther King Jr., Muslims, Protests and Demonstrations, racism, religious intolerance, Remembrances, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Social Justice Advocacy, Voter Rights Act of 1965 | Comments Off on Remembering the 16th Street Baptist Church Martyrs: A Special Comment on Religion and Violence
The Lincoln Journal Star reports that the woman was seized early Sunday morning in her home by three men in masks who stripped her, bound her hand and foot with zip ties, and proceeded to slice her skin all over her body. The victim told police that her attackers cut homophobic slurs into her flesh before splashing gasoline on the floor and setting it aflame. As they fled the scene, the victim managed to flip and roll outside where her screams caught the attention of neighbors. Her name has not yet been released, and police are not yet speculating on a motive for the crime.
Police informed reporters for KVNO News that the victim was treated at a local hospital and released. The Lincoln LGBTQ community, who believe she was singled out because of her sexual orientation, has rallied to the victim’s support. One local source, frustrated at the foot-dragging of the police on naming hate crime as a motive, claims that the message, “We found you, Dyke!” spray painted in the basement of the victim’s home.
At the “Vigil Against Violence” Sunday night at the State Capitol, leaders of the LGBTQ and straight-allied community, already empowered by the recent Star City Pride Festival and a vigorous debate on the “Fairness Amendment” that would ban discrimination in housing and employment against LGBTQ people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, came out to let their voices be heard in droves–over 300 by the start of the vigil, according to the Star Journal. Tyler Richard, president of Outlinc, a group that supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Lincoln, called upon the community to support the investigation with calm and resolve. “We are shocked and saddened by the report of an alleged hate crime involving a member of the LGBT community early Sunday morning,” Richard said. “Our hearts go out to the victim, her family and close friends. Many in our community are understandably experiencing a great deal of sadness, anger and confusion. We look to our entire community to pull together in this difficult time.”
No one has been arrested as of late Sunday night in connection with the crime.
July 23, 2012 Posted by unfinishedlives | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, home-invasion, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Nebraska, Outlinc, Slashing attacks, Slurs and epithets, Unsolved LGBT Crimes, Vigils | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, home-invasion, Lesbians, LGBTQ, Nebraska, Outlinc, Protests and Demonstrations, Slashing attacks, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, Unsolved LGBT hate crimes, Vigils | 3 Comments
Vito Russo (1946-1990) would have been 66 today, had the AIDS pandemic not robbed us of him. As a gay activist and groundbreaking film historian, Russo is best remembered for authoring the 1981 book, The Celluloid Closet: Homosexuality in the Movies. But Russo’s impact on LGBTQ equality and American culture and politics reached farther. He was a participant in virtually every landmark gay and lesbian rights effort since the Stonewall Rebellion in the streets of New York City in 1969–where he was actually present, protesting in the crowd who fought back against police oppression in what has come to be known as the birth date of the gay rights movement. He became a leader in the Gay Activists Alliance in the aftermath of Stonewall, and a co-founder of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) because of his concern about how gay people were portrayed by the media. In the 1980s, Russo became involved in ACT-UP (AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power) out of deepening frustration over federal and state governmental refusal to take the HIV/AIDS epidemic seriously. In 1990, he died of complications from the disease, but his legacy became secure after HBO aired a documentary film version of The Celluloid Closet narrated by comedy great, Lilly Tomlin. Russo’s family authorized a biography in 2011 published by the University of Wisconsin Press, Michael Shiavi’s Celluloid Activist: The Life and Times of Vito Russo. On July 23, HBO will premier a new documentary film, Vito.
On the anniversary of his birthday, July 11, we at the Unfinished Lives Project join Jeffrey Schwarz, the Producer/Director of Vito, to recall Russo’s powerful AIDS activism, and to remember the multitudes of women, men, and youth cut down so senselessly by a pandemic the U.S. government would not acknowledge until it began to affect the heterosexual population of this country. As Schwarz says in the Huffington Post: “During the AIDS epidemic Vito watched the world he loved crumble beneath his feet. By the time Vito received his AIDS diagnosis in 1985, the epidemic was well into its first decade, and thousands had already died. Vito had long been involved in empowering his community, so he found a way to channel his rage and grief into effective and history-making activism. ‘Why We Fight,’ Schwarz goes on to say, “was a fiery 1988 speech given before a tumultuous crowd of angry ACT UP demonstrators at the New York State Capitol in Albany.” The Queer Rhetoric Project records that the speech was delivered first in Albany as a part of the “9 Days of Protest” demonstration, and then later in Washington, D.C. at the Department of Health and Human Services.
“Why We Fight,” in its entirety, can be found here. Toward the climax of his fierce indictment of a medical and political regime in the U.S. marked by footdragging and homophobia, Russo said, almost prophetically:
“Someday, the AIDS crisis will be over. Remember that. And when that day comes, when that day has come and gone, there’ll be people alive on this Earth, gay people and straight people, men and women, black and white, who will hear the story that once there was a terrible disease in this country and all over the world, and that a brave group of people stood up and fought and, in some cases, gave their lives, so that other people might live and be free. So I’m proud to be with my friends today and the people I love, because I think you’re all heroes, and I’m glad to be part of this fight. But, to borrow a phrase from Michael Callen’s song, ‘all we have is love right now. What we don’t have is time.'”
The wrack and ruin of the AIDS pandemic is still with us, and the disease as dangerous as ever. The Unfinished Lives Team asks you to join us in honoring Vito Russo on the anniversary of his birth by advocating for increased research funding, effective education, and regular testing until this horrible disease is finally defeated. For now, like Russo, we must continue the struggle–remember the fallen–and do the work of hope. Happy Birthday, Vito!
July 11, 2012 Posted by unfinishedlives | ACT-UP, gay men, GLAAD, GLBTQ, Heterosexism and homophobia, HIV/AIDS, HIV/AIDS prevention, LGBTQ, New York, Protests and Demonstrations, Remembrances, Social Justice Advocacy, Vito Russo, Washington, D.C. | ACT-UP, Celluloid Closet, gay men, GLAAD, GLBTQ, Heterosexism and homophobia, HIV/AIDS, HIV/AIDS prevention, LGBTQ, Media Issues, Protests and Demonstrations, Remembrances, Social Justice Advocacy, Stonewall Riots, Vito Russo | Comments Off on “Why We Fight”: Fallen Gay Activist’s Fierce AIDS Speech Remembered on His Birthday
If you are a first-time visitor to the Unfinished Lives Project website, we invite you to read A Welcome Message introducing you to our project. We are truly grateful for your visit.
The Unfinished Lives Project website is 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. LGBTQ people in the United States are suffering a slow-rolling decimation of terror and murder all across the country. Every locale and demographic of society are affected: First Nations, Anglo, Black, Latino and Latina, South and Southeast Asian, Transgender, Bisexuals, Gay men, Lesbians, disabled, young, and mature. Homophobia has a long, crooked arm, and it is reaching out to snatch the life away from women and men whose tragic stories are under-reported to begin with, and whose memories are swiftly forgotten.
The horror of these killings transcends the shock and bereavement of loved ones and friends. These are not typical homicides; they are not killings for money or drugs, incidents of domestic strife, or crimes of passion. The vicious nature of hate crimes against LGBTQ persons is extremely brutal, grotesquely violent, and egregiously hateful.
Each murder serves the LGBTQ population as a sobering warning about the actual level of danger in our communities. The message these killings send is that freedom and open life for LGBTQ people is a cruel dream. Every time we remember one of these victims, however, the intentions of their killers are frustrated. To remember these women and men is to begin the process of changing the culture that killed them.
Our Project Director
Stephen V. Sprinkle is Director of Field Education and Supervised Ministry, and Professor of Practical Theology at Brite Divinity School, Fort Worth, Texas, a post he has held since 1994. An ordained Baptist minister, he is the first open and out Gay scholar in the history of the Divinity School, and the first open and out LGBTQ person to be tenured there. Read More…
Recent Social Justice Advocacy Activity By Dr. Sprinkle
Summer 2009 – Dr. Sprinkle responded to the Fort Worth Police Department and Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission Raid on the Rainbow Lounge, Fort Worth’s newest gay bar, on June 28, 2009, the exact 40th Anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion. Dr. Sprinkle was invited to speak at three protest events sponsored by Queer LiberAction of Dallas. Here, he is keynoting the Rainbow Lounge Protest at the Tarrant County Courthouse on July 12, 2009. Read More…
Communicate with the Unfinished Lives project team:
Schedule a Presentation
Dr. Sprinkle will gladly present his acclaimed presentation to your organization. To arrange an Unfinished Lives presentation for your organization or group, please contact us.
Dr. Sprinkle has given his Unfinished Lives presentation to these and other community groups and organizations. Read More…
- "All American Boy"
- "Kill the Gays Bill"
- 2013 Hate Crimes Statistics
- A Welcome Message
- Abiding Truth Ministries
- African Americans
- AIDS Healthcare Foundation
- Alliance of Baptists
- Alma Books Korea
- Amendment One
- American Bar Association (ABA)
- American Family Association
- Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
- Anglo Americans
- Anoka-Hennepin School District
- Anthrax threat
- Anti-Defamation League of New England
- Anti-Gay Hate Groups
- Anti-LGBT hate crime
- anti-LGBT hate crime murder
- Anti-LGBT hate crimes
- Appalachian State University
- Archbishop Desmond Tutu
- Arlington National Cemetery
- Art and Architecture
- Asian Americans
- Atlanta Eagle Bar Raid
- Atlanta Police Department
- Austin Police Department
- Austin Pride
- AWB/Iron Guards Movement
- B.R.A.V.E. Society
- Back 2 Stonewall
- Baptist Church
- Barton College
- Bayard Rustin
- Beatings and battery
- Being Gay is a Gift From God Campaign
- Bill de Blasio
- Bisexual persons
- Black Hebrews
- Blame the victim
- Bombs and explosives
- book desecration
- Book excerpts
- Book Tour
- Boston College Law School
- Boston Latin School
- Boy Scouts of America
- Brandon McInerney
- Brewster County Texas
- Brite Divinity School
- Bullying in schools
- Burger King
- Burning and branding
- C Street "The Family"
- Campus Pride
- capital punishment
- Carolyn Wagner
- Catawba College
- Cathedral of Hope
- Cathedral of Hope Houston
- Cedar Springs/Oak Lawn Neighborhood
- Center for American Progress
- Center for Anti-Violence Education (CAE)
- Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR)
- Center for Homicide Research
- Center on Halsted
- Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Central United Methodist Church Toledo
- Character assassination
- Child abuse
- Christine Quinn
- Chungdong First Methodist Church Korea
- Church in the Now
- Cinco de Mayo
- cisgender people
- Civil Rights Movement
- Clarendon Church of Christ
- Clergy Call
- Cokesbury Books
- Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church
- Coretta Scott King
- Councilman Chris Seelbach
- Covenant Christian Church
- Crimes against humanity
- cyber voyeurism
- Dallas Commissioners Court
- Dallas County Texas
- Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance
- Dallas hate crimes
- Dallas Morning News
- Dallas Police Department
- Dallas Stonewall Democrats
- Dallas Voice
- Dan Savage
- Daniel Hernandez
- Daniel Radcliffe
- Daughters of Bilitis
- death threats
- Decapitation and dismemberment
- desecration of corpses
- DFW Trans-Cendence
- Diana Butler Bass
- Disabled persons
- Domestic Violence
- Don't Ask
- Don't Tell (DADT)
- Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT)
- Donnie Romero
- Dr. Stephen V. Sprinkle
- drag queens
- Dragging murders
- Dream Act
- Duke Divinity School
- East Carolina University
- East Texas
- East Texas PFLAG
- Elton John
- Employment discrimination
- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
- Equality Baltimore
- Equality Michigan
- Equality North Carolina
- Equality Texas
- Equality Toledo
- Euro Pride 2011
- European Court of Human Rights
- Ex-gay conversion camp
- Fairness Fort Worth
- Faith In America
- false report
- Families United Against Hate (FUAH)
- First Christian Church Wilmington
- First Nations
- First United Methodist Church Eureka Springs
- Flight 93
- Fort Worth Police Department
- Forum on the Military Chaplaincy
- Fr. John MacNeill
- Fr. Mychal Judge
- Frank Kameny
- Fred Phelps
- French homophobia
- Gabrielle "Gabby" Giffords
- Gang violence
- gay and lesbian foster parents
- Gay Bar Raids
- Gay Bars
- gay bashing
- Gay Equity Team (GET)
- gay gene
- gay men
- gay panic defense
- gay panic defense ban
- Gay Pride Month
- Gay Russia
- gay teens
- gay veterans
- Gay-Straight Alliances
- Gays and Lesbian Opposing Violence
- gender identity/expression
- Gender Variant Youth
- gender-neutral youth
- genderqueer youth
- Georgia Equality
- GET EQUAL Texas
- Gore Vidal
- Governor Asa Hutchinson
- Governor Jerry Brown
- Governor Rick Perry
- Great Britain
- Greenwich Village
- gun violence
- Gwen Araujo
- Happy Holidays
- Harvard University
- Harvey B. Milk Foundation
- Harvey Milk
- Harvey Milk Commemorative Postage Stamp
- Harvey Milk Day
- Harvey Milk Foundation
- Hasidic Jews
- Hate Crime Statistics
- Hate Crimes
- hate crimes prevention
- hate speech
- Hero of Hope
- Heterosexism and homophobia
- Highland Baptist Church
- Hillary Clinton
- Hillcrest Neighborhood
- HIV/AIDS prevention
- homophobic child abuse
- Homosexuality and the Bible
- House of Blahnik
- Housing Discrimination
- Houston Clergy Council
- Houston HERO ordinance
- Houston Independent School District
- Howard University
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