Saturday, May 12, 2012

Hate Crimes and Murder - The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia May 17

When I get so many hits on an old post, that don't seem to come from any one particular place, I have to find out what is going on. It seems the Advocate has an article looking at some past atrocities, that might account for the interest. 12 Crimes That Changed the LGBT World |

Violence against gays, lesbians, and the transgendered is a all too common.
There have been more than 600 reports of murdered trans people in almost 50 countries since January 2008 (including killings this year in Detroit, D.C., Florida, and California), and there was an overall 13% increase (in 2010, the most recently recorded year) in violent crimes committed against LGBT or HIV-positive people, according to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. Some murders are so iconic they’re steeped in popular culture: Brandon Teena, murdered by his rapists in Nebraska in 1993; Angie Zapata, a trans woman killed by a transphobic boyfriend (Zapata’s murderer was later tried on hate crime charges, a first for a transgender victim). But there are others that slip under the radar: some in which victims’ families never find justice — like Martha Oleman, a lesbian killed in Sugarcreek Township, Ohio, in 1997, her murder part of the state’s cold case files — and others in which police action is swift but resolution remains murky.
Some of the names and stories you have heard, such as Mathew Shepard, but others almost no one has heard of. It is a long article - one page for each of the stories (some are about serial killers that commit many crimes) and an introduction - so 13 in all - but most are about single people killed for being who they are.
While all crimes change the world, on the following pages are 12 LGBT crimes that won’t soon be forgotten, serving as a reminder of the enduring violence we face daily.
I won't cover them all, you can click through the link to the article for that, but a few of the ones that you probably haven't heard of follow.

The story that brought all the readers to my blog over the past few days, seems to be the story of Gwen Araujo, a transgendered teen who was murdered when she was outed. I have written of her elsewhere, so I won't repeat myself here.

Sakia Gunn was 15 years old, an AG (or aggressive butch lesbian) and was murdered because some guys hit on her friends and they said they weren't interested because they were gay.
But one of the men in the car, Richard McCullough, didn’t like rejection. According to Democracy Now, he jumped out of the vehicle and began choking one of the girls. Gunn and her friend Valencia* tried to stop him and Gunn hit McCullough. He turned and stabbed her in the chest before running back to the car and fleeing the scene.
Turn down a man's advance and face violence.

That wasn't the end of the story of course. The non-reaction from the media was astounding to some, given the attention paid to Mathew Shepard. It was not so mysterious to others.
One only had to do the math, Renna says, to understand why the lack of interest. “Poor. Person of color, gender-nonconforming. Who cares?” Renna says. “Well, we did, and while I was at GLAAD we fought for The New York Times and CNN to cover her death, which still haunts me, since I would have reacted in exactly the same way she did in her situation. Meeting another accepting and loving family who could not give voice to their grief was painful.”

Some local activists also indicted the black community of Newark, arguing that homophobia kept the mayor and black political leaders from doing more to help LGBT youth and from paying attention to a bias murder where both the victim and the perpetrator were black. Kelly Cogswell and Ana Simo asked in The Gully, “Where are the professionally outraged activists like Al Sharpton who always appear en masse to hold politicos accountable when young black people are cut down by hate and no one is doing anything? After all, he didn't let white censorship and racism stand in the way of protesting the murder of Amadou Diallo in New York, or Timothy Thomas hundreds of miles away in Cincinnati. The reason why Sakia Gunn was killed, and why her murder has faded from the headlines, is that both whites and blacks wish young black queers would disappear. Until things change, they will, thanks to violence, AIDS, and hate.”
The religious right likes to make the broad statement, that no culture has ever been accepting of gays or the transgendered. But of course they make that statement in ignorance of the vast variety found in different cultures.

A case in point is the story of Fred “Frederica” C. Martinez Jr.
Fred Martinez was a Native American two-spirit or nádleehí, what the Navajo call a male-bodied person with a feminine nature. He felt like a boy who was also a girl; a third gender that was both male and female. His family was accepting, and Martinez often dressed in feminine garb, a signature girl’s headband keeping wispy bangs out of his eyes. By all accounts from teachers, counselors, and friends, he was a healthy, happy, well-adjusted freshman at Montezuma-Cortez High School. But after the rodeo that night, Martinez met 18-year-old named Shaun Murphy at a party and accepted a ride from Murphy and one of his friends. The two dropped Martinez off, but he and Murphy met again later, and the reason has never been fully explained. Murphy later bragged that he had “beat up a fag.”
Police ignored a mother's pleas for 10 days after the disappearance. I guess a missing Two Spirit, high-school freshman doesn't rate that much attention. The story is part of the documentary Two Spirits, which aired on PBS. Like Mathew Shepard, he died of blunt force trauma and exposure. Not many seem to care.

You would think that some stories would be well known just based on the gruesome details of the case. The Handcuff Man is one such case.
For decades, bartenders, hustlers, and gay clubgoers in Atlanta’s Ponce de Leon corridor — an area where gay sex trade was common — circulated rumors about a mysterious man who mutilated and murdered young gay and bisexual men. There was talk of this urban legend, the Handcuff Man — as locals dubbed him — for years, and many swore that the man would offer men $50 to drink a pint of vodka, sometimes telling them he was studying the effects of alcohol. Often, the next thing the victim would know — assuming he lived — was that he had been dumped in a deserted area, handcuffed, his genitals set on fire.
People died. At least one was so badly burned he had to have his legs amputated. Eventually, a local attorney Robert Lee Bennett was identified as the Handcuff Man. In prison he admitted being gay. (Prick a homophobe, and they will often bleed rainbow - that is, you will often find a repressed homosexual.)

There is so much more in the article. On the stories here, and others. Some you may have heard of; some I doubt you have.

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