Terrance Heath

LGBT Hate Crimes Timeline

Filed By Terrance Heath | October 07, 2008 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Media, Politics, Politics
Tags: hate crimes against LGBT people

Yesterday was the 10th anniversary of Matthew Shepard's murder. I didn't get chance to blog about it (or much else) yesterday.

Ten years ago yesterday, I was in a hotel in Albuquerque, NM -- helping to facilitate an HIV/AIDS prevention and education training for a Latina organization -- when heard about Matthew Shepard. I was brushing my teeth while listening to the morning news on television. (I still watched TV news back then.) At some point during the report about Shepard, I came out of the bathroom and sat down on the bed. I may have still had my toothbrush in my mouth. I know I was only half dressed, and had to hurry to finish dressing and get downstairs for the training.

It was an hour before I could speak to anyone, and even then I could only manage to tell them what I'd seen on the news. I kept running back up to my room to catch the news during breaks. At some point my update was that Matthew had died. Later, I flew back to D.C., and the first thing I did was to go to a huge rally at the Capitol, where I met up with some of my friends who were also trying to get their brains around what happened.

The response to Shepard's death was huge. But, like Cathy wrote, a lot has happened since then. A lot of people have been targets and victims of hate crimes.

The short answer is all about who Matt was and who we are as a community. He was white, educated and in many ways the archetype of the "good gay." Was this really the truth? I watched Judy Shepard speak at American University last night, as always a powerful voice for diversity and, as always, she kept it real. Matt was not perfect, he was a beloved child, but flawed like all of us. His family loved him and misses him horribly. Their ability to turn grief to action humbles me every day in my work with the Matthew Shepard Foundation.

So today, instead of another re-telling of a story we are all too familiar with, I ask you to google a couple of names: J.R. Warren and Sakia Gunn. I also worked to get the media - and the community - to pay attention to these brutal hate crimes, without nearly as much success. Read their stories, see who they were. Do the math. Ask yourself why the thousands who hit the streets for Matthew Shepard in new York City could not take the PATH train to Newark for Sakia. Why was I one of a bare handful of white folks are her funeral? Why indeed.

That's part of the reason I started the LGBT Hate Crimes Project; to tell those stories that we aren't too familiar with. There are lots of them. Too many in fact, to the point that it's impossible to tell them all.

For more than a year now, I've been researching and re-telling the ones that I can. In a previous post, I included a timeline of LGBT hate crimes, based on the cases I've researched. In the spirit of remembering Matthew's death, and in the spirit of Cathy's post about remember all the others whose names and stories are not as familiar, I'm re-posting the timeline.

I've also been playing around with Splashcast for a while now, and decided to create a "channel" consisting of the videos I've gathered on some of these stories.

Add LGBT Hate Crimes to your page

For the duration of the week, I'm going to make an effort to add a few more stories to the ones above.


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What a resource, Terrance.

I hope to never have to use it in the future. :(

Melanie Davis | October 7, 2008 10:41 PM

Yes, thank you! Like Remembering Our Dead, perhaps in conjunction, this could be a useful tool to remind people of just how much we need hate crimes protections like a united ENDA.

You know when I read that they were dedicating a bench to Mathew, all I could think about was what about everyone else. So many have died or been attacked in some ways. I am not saying that what happened to matthew shouldn't be acknowledged but his death is not more important than someone else because he was white and educated. I really believe we need to come together to fight all of the isms together. Sexism, racism, cisexism, and homophobia are all fruit of the same poisonous tree.

In my humble opinion, this is the pivotal issue of our movement in the 21rst century. Based on a reasonable projection, given the creeping fascism that always employs a marginalized scapegoat, we can easily project a worsening scenario in the next decade.
The death of innocents cannot, must not continue without our persistent attention to the disease of hate. Hate is strange malady in the fact that it afflicts so many others outside of the host.
Hate crimes are a symptom of a diseased society that must be healed from within.
Often have I pondered the broad disparities of societal reactions to racially motivated murders compared to gender based murders.
Our third class status as citizens of this country allows the media at large, and even members of the TGLB community, to react with apathy...if we react all.
I received proof of our communal apathy last month when I wrote a letter to TG News asking my community for support, assistance, input etc. for a book on TG hate crime I was thinking about writing. Nobody wrote to me. Nobody.
I still think a book on the wholesale, continuous murder of diversity by hate crimes is an important thing...a necessary thing to point to the inhumanity of gender oppression.
But I can't help but also think that we are compicit by our apathy.

If anyone who reads this would like to make this book happen I will offer whatever talents I have as a writer to collaborate. This could even be a group effort that would elevate our esprit de corp in the dusk of the forthcoming long sad night.

On a personal, McCain, Palin, Qbama, and Biden can all kiss my transexual ass. I am legally married to the woman of my dreams for 28 years.

Namaste Rosie