Rashawn & Beyond: Anti-Violence News for Queer People of Color

The Rashawn Brazell Memorial Fund aims to establish a sustainable tribute to Rashawn that promotes critical thought about the impact of violence and intolerance, particularly upon queer communities of African descent.

Through this blog, we provide action alerts, event postings and breaking news as a means of informing these communities in ways that enable them to combat racism and homophobia.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Life Sentence for Killing of South African Lesbian

A life sentence was given to Themba Mvubu, 24,for taking part in the gang rape and murder of lesbian Soccer player Eudy Simelane from South Africa. The rape and murder adds to the spree of rapes against South African lesbians known as “corrective rape.” Corrective rape is defined as a practice in South Africa done to “correct” the sexual orientation of lesbian women.

"Simelane was one of the first women to live openly as a lesbian in KwaThema township, near Johannesburg. A keen footballer since childhood, she played for the South African women's team and worked as a coach and referee. She hoped to serve as a line official in the 2010 men's World Cup in South Africa.

But in April last year she was accosted while leaving a pub and robbed of a mobile phone, trainers and cash. She died from wounds to the abdomen after being gang-raped and stabbed 12 times. Her naked body was dragged towards a stream and dumped.

Thato Mphithi was also convicted in the killing earlier this year. He was given a sentence of 32 years for pleading guilty to murder, robbery and attempted rape. Khumbulani Magagula, 22, and Johannes Mahlangu, 18, who also faced trial in the rape and murder were acquitted of all charges.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ex-gay Teenager Appears on Tyra

A disturbing video of Jeffrey, 16, was uploaded months ago on Youtube.com, showing Pastor Patricia McKinney of Manifested Glory Ministries casting an “unclean spirit” out of the teenager. Jeffrey sat down with talk show host Tyra Banks this week where he revealed to her that although the “unclean spirit” is out of his body he still struggles with “temptations” of homosexuality.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Profile: Reginald P.

This week begins a series of profiles on the volunteers of the RBMF. It's an introduction to the men and women who contribute time and energy to ensuring that the legacy of Rashawn Brazell lives on.

I began volunteering in 2005 after a meeting with Larry Lyons and
Mervyn Mercano about the fund and its purpose. I chose to volunteer
because I was looking for a way to contribute to a greater good in
society and I was attracted to the idea of honoring a young man who
had attributes I value in myself - care for one's neighbor, ability to
connect with others.. At the beginning, I worked on the upkeep of the
website and building a database of organizations associated with the
fund. At present, I function as the Scholar Selections Coordinator -
working to put the scholarship in the hands of applicants, aiding in
the choosing of awardees and invitees to the Mentorship Program.

The murder of Rashawn Brazell, like the murders and violence committed
against anyone is a testament to the need of knowledge where there is
now ignorance. What touches me specifically about Rashawn's case is
that his profile is like mine: young, gay, black, male. It is easy to
put myself in his place and that is something frightening to conjure.
It's because of that I'm urged to live my life fully - to complete the
life that was cut short because of ignorance. To that effect, my
life's goal is to be an advocate for peace, knowledge, and service.
The desire to help people is paramount in Rashawn's legacy. An
organized community striving to do just that - through initiatives
like those of the RBMF - is wholly worthwhile.

Reginald can be reached at regip7@gmail.com

Sunday, September 20, 2009

On a hot summer evening in the gay-friendly West Village neighborhood of New York City, seven young women from New Jersey were verbally threatened and physically attacked by a twenty-nine-year-old man. In a not uncommon travesty of justice, the New Jersey Seven, as they came to be called, were sent to prison for defending themselves. The Fire This Time tells the story of the seven womens trial and prison sentences, and the years-long fight by relatives and activists to get the women released. Along the way, the film reveals in devastating detail how the media, homophobia, and racism all work together in American culture to stigmatize and victimize gay people of color.

To find out more about The Fire This Time please visit their Youtube Channel.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Weekly Digest

Rashawn Brazell Memorial Fund highlights the suicides of queer young people.

Obama should dump 'don't ask, don't tell' .

Ione Lloyd grants RBMF an interview on her play Dirty Little Black Girls.

This National Suicide Prevention Week, the RBMF encourages you to learn more about suicide rates in the LGBT community.

Two-Thirds of GLBT Americans think nation is headed in the right direction.

Don’t forget to RSVP to the Rashawn Brazell Mentor Mixer.

British Envoy slain in anti-gay killing in Jamaica.

The Trevor Project is a great source for suicide prevention.

Noam Chomsky gives an interesting interview on student protesting.

The site Student Activism is up and running again.

Dirty Little Black Girls: A Play

By Jared Dewese & Steven Emmanuel

Ione Lloyd’s conceptual Dirty Little Black Girls received an audience in Brooklyn recently courtesy of Freedom Train Productions. Dirty Little Black Girls follows the tradition of Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuff by using monologues and everyday women characters to move the plot. It centers on the lives of three modern day Park Slope, Brooklyn domestics. One a young Nigerian girl being enslaved and tortured by a black mistress, A Jamaican hot-blooded lesbian having an affair with her white female employer, and the third a sexy, intelligent, and misunderstood street-wise black girl. Each woman, including the white female employer, is trapped in circumstances that often seem inescapable. Unlike the mammy and coon characters of Broadway and Hollywood yesteryear, Lloyd has created rich and complex characters that will endear any audience they greet. Ione Lloyd recently granted us an interview where she talked about the inspiration for her play.

Tell us a little bit about Dirty Little Black Girls and how you conceptualized the story.
Dirty Little Black Girls is the story of 4 sexy women all in bondage to their circumstances, living and working in Park Slope Brooklyn. The cast includes three domestics of color: A 16 year old modern day slave from Nigeria, A Jamaican housekeeper who’s having an affair with her white female employer, a drop dead gorgeous ghetto fab nanny whose getting her PHD in chemistry, a late 40s desperate white housewife who’s having an affair with her housekeeper and one free character - The Little Black Devil a black female character in white face that devils the women into changing their lives, some for the better and for others.
All of these ladies and I use that term loosely - despite differences in age, sexuality or race are looking to escape and trying to figure what freedom is and what to do with it once it’s been won. This play honors our differences and celebrates the commonalities of the human experience. The white character is not the villain of this play, I’m actually not sure who is I think it depends on the audience’s mood.

Music and movement are key elements; the women often do the same chores at the same time - never knowing how connected and similar their lives really are. I was incredibly blessed to have such an amazing cast and director. When a piece is in development your director really needs to have your back , Michael Goldfried who directed this project not only had my back but he was down for whatever and was an inspiration to me and gave the actors and myself a safe place to play and ask questions the kind of questions only dirty little black girls would ask. With my work I take people of color out of the boxes (coffins, jail cells, stereotypes) society has put us in and create from a place where everyone can simply be.

Did your experiences growing up play a part in the molding of Dirty Little Black Girls?
Yes as it does with all of my plays. That’s why I refuse to get therapy, what would I have left to write about?

Why did you title the play Dirty Little Black Girls?
It creates a physical reaction different in each person and that really is where the play begins.

Why did you become a playwright?
I’m a born story teller.

Where did you the inspiration for your characters?

Where did you find your cast of amazing actresses?
I have no idea why these women aren’t famous but when they are they’d still better do my plays!

How did you become involved with Freedom Train Productions?
They had been following my work.
Have you had any other plays produced?
I’ve actually never been produced I’ve only had staged readings or bare bones workshops.

What’s in the future for Dirty Little Black Girls? Film? More stage readings?
I’m praying on all of the above and more.

Anything else you would like to share?
Tell everyone to hit me up on facebook to keep in touch search Ione Lloyd

Sunday, September 13, 2009

National Suicide Prevention Week

by Steven Emmanuel

In lieu of National Suicide Prevention Week the Rashawn Brazell Memorial Fund highlights five stories, domestically and abroad, of gay youth and gay young adults who have committed suicide because of the homophobia they have endure.

Eleven-year-old Jaheem Herrera’s body was discovered by his 10-year-old sister, Yerralis, hanging from a closet in their Atlanta home. Herrera was constantly being bullied at school, often harassed because of his feminine demeanor. Herrera’s mother, Masika Bermude, complained several times to the school board, but her demand for intervention often went ignored. Herrera committed suicide on April 16th.

After months of persistent bullying Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover committed suicide. The athlete-student was found by his mother, Sirdeaner L. Walker, hanging from an extension cord in the second floor of their Massachusetts home. Walker-Hoover would have turn twelve two days later.

Eric Mohat, 17, was a music and theater lover. In 2007, on the day he shot and killed himself, he was told by a classmate, "Why don't you go home and shoot yourself, no one will miss you." Earlier this year his story resurfaced, after his family filed a lawsuit against his school requesting the school start an anti-bullying program and demand the death of their son be recognized as “bullycide.”

Daniel Cudd, 23, and Roger Irons, 21, both United Kingdom natives, were found dead in separate incidents in their hometown of Falmouth, Cornwall. Cudd and Irons succumbed to the hostility and torment they faced for being gay. Cudd was discovered life-less at his home and only 48 hours later Irons was found hung from a park tree.

National Suicide Prevention Week was established by the American Association of Suicidology.

To learn more about National Suicide Prevention Week please visit

To get counseling please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Obama should dump ‘don't ask, don't tell'

Source: Chron

By Patrick F. McCann

The recent killing of Houston native and sailor August Provost III while he was apparently at his post on base in San Diego provides the most tragic and poignant illustration that it is well-past time to cast the discredited policy of “don't ask, don't tell” on the trash heap of history. This sad and pointless incident ought to have something good come from it.

Although one hesitates to speak about any criminal matter before the investigation is complete, and the accused in this case has now apparently taken his own life and we will never know his side of this sad tale, his family asserted that Provost had been harassed for his sexual orientation for nearly a year. They stated that though he lived an openly gay life with them, he feared bringing this to his command's attention for fear of being kicked out of the Navy.

Yet by all accounts this was a good and decent man, a sailor who enlisted out of a desire to serve his country, and was honorably at his post when his killer or killers struck. Perhaps his attack might not have been prevented, as no one knows what lurked in the attacker's heart. Whatever his orientation, though, this man deserved better, from his service, and from the citizens he swore to protect.

I urge President Barack Obama to honor his memory by finally casting aside the disastrous “don't ask, don't tell” policy that has oppressed gay and lesbian service members and actually undermined our national security.

Not one American life has been saved by this policy, which forbids gay service members from honestly declaring their orientation while in the service. In fact, in a time when we are using Coast Guard members to guard land-based supply convoys, and when our active and reserve and guard service members are stretched to the breaking point, our various services spend an enormous amount of time trying to expel good, honorable soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines whose only crime is that they may be gay.

One wonders how many posts go unfilled because they were held by a perfectly competent and diligent soldier whose service suspected he was, or he admitted he was, gay? Can our country truly afford this kind of foolish short-sighted behavior in a time of war, when we need every skilled medic, nurse, infantryman, pilot, navigator and ship's crew member?

Perhaps more important than the simple fact that this policy does not work is the fact that it is fundamentally unfair. If a nephew or cousin or relative of mine, or anyone's, wished to serve the country that gives them shelter and freedom, what man or woman has the right to deny them because they are gay? Are we to deny them the right to vote as well? To run for office? There are a few special times in life when one knows, deep in one's heart, that one is a citizen of a democracy; when one votes, when one stands for public office, or pays taxes, and finally, perhaps, most importantly, when one dons the uniform of one's country. We should not deny our neighbors the right to stand up for the very freedom they enjoy.

There are those who will raise their voices and say others will not serve with gays. They are wrong, because our service men and women, for the most part, serve with them now, and for the most part, this recent tragedy notwithstanding, respect them and leave them in peace.

There are those who say it will affect retention and recruitment. They are wrong. No man or women looking to undertake the enormous risks and hardships we now demand of our service members in facing two wars gives a tinker's damn whether or not they will work alongside gay men and women. Younger people in this time simply do not think in this old and hate-filled way. Moreover, they know full well that they will work alongside them in civilian life, so why should it make a difference?

Our military places Jews and Muslims together with Christians and Wiccans, atheists and animists, blacks, whites, Latinos and Asians and expects them to work together. So far that has proven remarkably successful, so much so that the military is often held up as an example to others in our society. The voices that say no to this change are the voices of timidity and cowardice, of fear and unreason.

I urge President Obama to display the courage that Seaman Provost did in joining the service. I ask that he show the same fortitude that Harry Truman did when he integrated the armed forces more than 60 years ago by executive order. I humbly ask that he formally and forever discard the failed policy of “don't ask, don't tell.” This policy has hurt our sailors, our airmen, our Marines and our soldiers. It has torn good men and women from the service life they chose and love. It has only wounded, not strengthened, our country. Don't keep “don't ask, don't tell.”

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Fight at Piedmont Park causes people to 'stampede'

By Dyana Bagby

The Atlanta Police Department said people with guns were fighting in Piedmont Park at about 9 p.m. today causing hundreds of people to "stampede."
There were no initial reports of injuries and police said the scene was deemed safe after the crowd was dispersed. The park closes at 11 p.m. and most people were leaving the park at about 9:30 p.m.

Several arrests were made and two people was possibly maced, said APD LGBT liaison Officer Dani Lee Harris.

"The APD got a call about an unruly crowd at the park and responded to the scene. There were two Code 20s [use of mace] and several arrests were made, but it's not known yet how many," Harris said at about 10:15 p.m. "The crowd is dispersed and the scene is secure." She added there were no reports of any injuries.

Hundreds of people were gathered in the park today as part of an unofficial gathering of Black Gay Pride, with DJs playing music and numerous cookouts taking place. Sundays in the park is part of a long standing tradition at Black Gay Pride.

Ryan Lee, editor of David Atlanta magazine and senior reporter at Southern Voice, who was at the park tonight when the incident took place, said he heard no gunfire and police told him a fight broke out among a group of people who had guns. He said at about 9:30 p.m. the APD was attempting to clear out the park.

"There were people fighting with guns and that caused people to stampede," an APD officer told Lee at about 9:30 p.m. at the scene.

Earlier today, the park was filled with people dancing to music and picnicking as well as walking throughout the park.

"I like this crowd — I like coming to Pride because you can meet a lot of people from all around and you are able to be yourself," said Tee, 34, of Detroit, Mich., who was attending her first Black Gay Pride.

"I've been hearing about this party in the park for years. I've always heard this is the spot to be during Pride," she said.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


Source: The Audre Lorde Project

A few weeks ago at a meeting with the NYC Human Resources Administration (HRA) we learned that the new procedure to address transphobic discrimination at HRA, which was developed over the last year with community input, is still not approved. In fact we learned that very little progress had been made. When asked when the procedure would be approved Jane Corbett, the Executive Deputy Commissioner of Constituent Services and Policy Improvement at HRA stated that she did not know when it would be approved.

This is unacceptable.

Our recent communication with HRA has been hostile – their admitted lack of progress amounts to a refusal by HRA to prevent Transphobic discrimination. Trans and Gender Non Conforming people face rampant Transphobia, discrimination and harassment when seeking to access welfare/public assistance in New York City every day. Every day that HRA does not approve the procedure this injustice continues.


Please continue to forward this email as widely as possible and continue to collect petitions and postcards. Thank you so much to everyone for all your support – to date we have over 900 signed postcards and petitions! Look out for upcoming announcements about future campaign activities.

Join us in continuing to pressure HRA and Support Justice for Trans and Gender Non Conforming people!

1)Sign the e-petition and get others to sign.

2)Collect HRA Postcards. We are also collecting signed postcards to send to HRA. You can either:

·Make your own copies - Download the HRA Postcard, print it, sign it, get others to sign and mail the signed postcards to TransJustice, ALP, 85 South Oxford Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217. Download postcard here.


· Request postcards - Contact Mya Vazquez at 718-596-0342 x 23 or mvazquez@alp.org , tell us how many you want and where to mail them to.

3) Get involved with the campaign. To volunteer with the campaign or get more information contact mvazquez@alp.org

TransJustice, a project of the Audre Lorde Project, is one of the first community organizing groups created by and for Trans and Gender Non-Conforming (TGNC) People of Color in New York City. The Audre Lorde Project is a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two-Spirit, Trans and Gender Non Conforming People of Color Community Organizer Center based in Brooklyn, New York.

Campaign Background

Since 2005, Trans and Gender Non-Conforming (TGNC) communities in New York City have been urging the Human Resources Administration (HRA) to address the rampant Transphobia, discrimination, and harassment that Trans and Gender Non-Conforming people in New York City face when seeking to access welfare/public assistance.

In June of 2008, a week before the Fourth Annual Trans Day of Action (annual March organized by TransJustice of the Audre Lorde Project) which was set to protest at HRA headquarters, HRA officials agreed to meet with TransJustice to hear community concerns. After this first meeting with HRA in the Fall of 2008, TransJustice formed a committee of organizations including the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, Housing Works, Queers for Economic Justice and others, to develop a HRA procedure to address transphobic discrimination at HRA. To date HRA has not approved this new procedure.

In 2005 the New York City Human Resources Administration and a Citizen Advisory Transgender Sub Committee developed Best Practice Protocols for Working With and Serving Trans and Gender Non Conforming Employees and Clients (the new procedure is based on this document), these protocols sat on the shelf for years and were never implemented nor adopted by HRA. This cannot happen again.