Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Gay Martyr for Justice Harvey Milk Celebrated Throughout America

San Francisco, California – Harvey Milk Day, May 22, celebrates the life and legacy of love of Harvey Bernard Milk, born May 22, 1930, and gunned down in his San Francisco City Hall office on November 27, 1978.  He was the first openly gay person elected to a major political office in the United States when he won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.  His close associate,  gay activist Cleve Jones, says of his friend Harvey, “He fought for gay people, against war and for workers and the poor. He stood with women, immigrants, seniors and youth. He forged coalitions that built power for ordinary men and women and moved us all forward with his humor, compassion and great love for his people.” 

In today’s San Francisco Chronicle, Anne Kronenberg, another intimate friend of Harvey’s who managed his successful election campaign to the Board of Supervisors, reflects on Harvey’s legacy of human rights progress in the 33 years since he was assassinated.  She writes, “In 1977” (the year of Harvey’s election), “we were taking baby steps in our fight for equal rights. In 2012, we have come a long way as the dialogue on equality is a top-of-mind issue and specific actions are reaching that goal. Harvey Milk’s life and death changed the course of history,” Kronenberg went on to say. “Milk’s legacy, to give people hope for a better tomorrow, is very much alive in the hearts of anyone working to achieve change. Thank you, Harvey!”

In 2010, the State of California officially set aside May 22, the anniversary of Harvey’s birth, to be an annual celebration of his memory, the story of the struggle for LGBTQ rights, and of the continuing effort to make this a better world.  His work in education (successfully opposing the infamous Briggs Initiative, also known in California as Prop 6), and in youth empowerment is now being championed by the Harvey B. Milk Foundation, founded by Harvey’s nephew Stuart Milk and his friend Anne Kronenberg.  To learn more about Harvey’s life, times, assassination and witness for justice, see the Academy Award winning films The Times of Harvey Milk (1984) and Milk (2009). In book form, the definitive work is still Randy Shilts’s The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk (St. Martins Griffin, 2008).

The Unfinished Lives Project Team joins grateful Americans from every walk of life in the celebration of Harvey Milk, hate crimes murder victim, gay rights pioneer, and friend of all marginalized people.  Though he died, yet he lives in our hearts and minds, and in the living shrine of liberty made up of the lived experiences of increasing millions of out and proud LGBTQ people.  Happy Birthday, Harvey!

May 22, 2012 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, bi-phobia, Bisexual persons, California, gay men, GLBTQ, gun violence, Harvey B. Milk Foundation, Harvey Milk Day, Hate Crimes, hate crimes prevention, Heterosexism and homophobia, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Remembrances, Social Justice Advocacy, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Gay Martyr for Justice Harvey Milk Celebrated Throughout America

Anti-Transgender Violence Hot Topic for LGBT Community

Trans peopleNew York City – The Associate Press reports that a major anti-transgender violence forum slated for October 7 will address the rising incidence of attacks against transgender New Yorkers.  Brooklyn Law School is hosting the forum,which will be attended by the family of Lateisha Green, transwoman of color, who was murdered in Syracuse last year.  Her convicted killer, Dwight DeLee, was convicted of manslaughter in her shooting death three months ago.  The conviction was the first under New York State’s hate crimes law, sending a message to perpetrators of violence against transgender people that transphobic attacks will no longer be tolerated in the Empire State.  The Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, organizers of the Brooklyn forum, point out that transgender people face increasing degrees of “pervasive discrimination, harassment and violence.”  Statistics gathered by transgender advocacy groups note that 12% of all violent attacks against LGBT people in 2008 were perpetrated against transgender people.  As Joseph Erbentraut, Great Lakes Regional Editor for EDGE reported earlier this week, Lesbians, Gay Men, and Bisexuals are complicit in these crimes of violence because of prejudices they hold against gender non-conforming people.  Activists agree that lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals are hardly immune from the prejudice vented against transpeople by the society.  Each group too easily absolutizes the gender presentation they are familiar and comfortable with.  Jokes and slurs aimed by LGB people against transgender people, calling them “trannies” or “drag queens” differ little from the epithets cast at them by straight haters.  While actual instances of anti-trans violence by LGB people are rare, the bias is symptomatic of a tragic lack of awareness that all prejudice against members of the sexual minority is interconnected.  The Lateisha Green case, however, is a source of hope in New York.  While the conviction of DeLee was based on anti-gay epithets he used while murdering Green rather than transphobic ones, the severity of the first-degree manslaughter sentence woke the Empire State legal community up, and began a movement to add transphobic language to the hate crimes penal code as well as homophobic speech.  The precedent-setting case sends a message that attacks against transgender New Yorkers will no longer be tolerated.  Erbentraut reports that all sources he contacted agreed that the most effective way to blunt anti-transgender violence would be the swift passage of comprehensive hate crimes protections and employment security legislation at the federal level, such as the Matthew Shepard Act, now in the House-Senate conference process, and the recently introduced Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

October 8, 2009 Posted by | African Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Bisexual persons, ENDA, gay men, gun violence, harassment, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Legislation, Lesbian women, Matthew Shepard Act, Media Issues, New York, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Anti-Transgender Violence Hot Topic for LGBT Community

Murder Most Foul: Transgender Holocaust in the United States

trans day of remembrance collageChicago, IL – The Great Lakes Regional Editor of EDGE reports that the slaughter of transgender persons in the United States has already gone 12 per cent higher than last year at this time, and the grim statistics are growing.  Joseph Erbentraut, in his important essay, “Violence Against the Transgendered Only Getting Worse,” published on edgeonthenet.com, notes that the silence and invisibility common to LGBT hate crime murders is intensified for transgender Americans.  As in the case of Paulina Ibarra, the lives of transgender victims are often ignored until a more culturally sensational aspect of the crime surfaces, as it did in the August stabbing death of the East Los Angeles Latina transwoman when a known parole jumper surfaced as a “person of interest” in the investigation.  Until then, Ibarra’s brutal murder was largely neglected, even by the LGBT press, and her life has been reduced to a string of seamy innuendoes and a few glam photos.  Other notorious instances this year have been the broad-daylight attack on Ty’lia “Nana Boo-Boo” Mack in D.C. last month, Lateisha Green, shot to death in Syracuse, NY last November, Angie Zapata, bludgeoned to death with a fire extinguisher in Greeley, CO last July, and Duanna Johnson and Ebony Whitaker who died on the streets of  Memphis, TN last November and July, respectively.  According to Erbentraut, the media are largely to blame for this stunning neglect of one of the most important human rights stories of 2009: “Underreporting from official statistics leaves the issue in the hands of media outlets, which have historically been known for problems identifying victims’ genders through using incorrect names and pronouns,” he writes.   “The past year has also seen a number of examples of media programs condoning violence against the community,” Erbentraut continues, “including a radio news program on KRXQ Sacramento which referred to gender dysphoric children as ‘idiots’ and ‘freaks.’ Co-host Arnie States said he ‘[looked] forward to when [transgender children] go out into society and society beats them down…'”  While 32 states have some form of hate crime legislation that increases the penalty for violence against LGB people, only 11 have statutes covering their transgender population.  Only Brazil, with 80 transgender murders this year, has a larger number of transgender killings than the United States.  Until gays, lesbians, and bisexual people and their allies begin to take violence against transgender people, especially transgender people of color, as seriously as they do crimes against themselves, this deplorable trend will surely continue.

September 30, 2009 Posted by | African Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Bludgeoning, California, Colorado, gun violence, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Illinois, Latino and Latina Americans, Law and Order, Legislation, Media Issues, New York, Social Justice Advocacy, stabbings, Tennessee, transgender persons, transphobia, Washington, D.C. | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Murder Most Foul: Transgender Holocaust in the United States


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