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.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Profile: Julius Pateman

In early May of this year, I began volunteering for the Rashawn Brazell Memorial Fund, as I was recruited by the Co-Founder of RBMF Larry D. Lyons . Before I was invited by Larry to attend an interest meeting, I had never heard of the fund, or the killing of Rashawn; however once I found out what actually happened, I was touched. Being apart of RBMF has opened my eyes to the different hurdles and discrimination we face as a whole in LGBT community. Of course I’ve heard of “gay bashing” but it had been awhile since I knew of any current incidents, but the real issue is that they go unreported, and unsolved.

I am the Communications Coordinator for the Fund, and it’s my job to make sure our followers are updated on what’s going on within the fund, our scholars, and also in the LGBT community. Rashawn’s death affects me tremendously, knowing that his killer is still on our streets, and could possibly strike again. Rashawn was a rising scholar, and had big dreams of going off to college. That is my drive for volunteering for the fund, as we continue his legacy by helping students attend college and offer academic and moral support thru our Mentor Program.

Monday, November 23, 2009

16 Year Old Beaten with Metal Pipe

Sixteen-year-old Jayron Martin was beaten with a metal pipe by his classmate. Martin notified two principals and his bus driver reporting the alleged threats to them – and they didn’t budge. Jayron Martin said he begged two principals at his school and his bus driver for help before he was hit repeatedly with a metal pipe. Martin reveals to local Houston affiliate KHOU.

“All they kept saying was, ‘We going to get you. We going to fight you,’ and all that and so when they started coming after me they were like, ‘You’re not going to be gay anymore.’ They just kept hitting me,” he said.

Hours before the incident, Martin said a friend told him a group was planning to attack him. The teen said he talked with two administrators about his concerns. The administrators took a written statement from him, said Martin.

“I sat down in the cafeteria and I started writing the letter and so then I handed it to them and they said, ‘We are going to call y’all down and stuff like that,’” he said.

Martin said he was never called to the office, and the administrator didn’t call his mother.

Martin entered the school bus where he constantly was being harassed and threatened by students. After exiting the bus he was chased, hailed down, and beaten while others stood and looked. He was beaten for minutes until a neighbor came out hailing and cocking his shotgun.

“Harris County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested the 16-year-old who beat Martin. The accused teen is facing aggravated assault charges. His case is in the juvenile court system, and those records are sealed.”

Martin was knocked into a concussion and suffered cuts and bruises throughout his limbs. He says he does not want to return to school. His mother is currently exploring filing a civil lawsuit against the students and school for ignoring their son’s plea for help.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Why does black community reject civil rights for gays?

By J.B. Salganik, Owings Mills
From the Baltimore Sun.

This letter is in memory of Jason Mattison Jr., an openly gay, African-American Baltimore high school student who was raped and murdered this month ("Mystery cloaks death of teen who 'had a life ahead of him,'" Nov. 18).

It may be hard for some people to admit that, while racial inequities still exist so obviously in our city and women on average still do not get paid as much as men, the fact is that the current arena of the civil rights struggle in our country is the fight for equal rights for homosexuals.

As a Baltimore City public school teacher, I hear about one homophobic slur an hour. Usually, this homophobia is reserved for gay men rather than lesbians, who are somewhat more accepted. Even intelligent, educated adults I meet will often surprise me with such prejudice, and this is especially true in the black community.

Usually this prejudice is justified by religious convictions, but slave owners used to go to church on Sundays and quote the Bible too. Gay people have always existed, in every culture and country in history, yet we are told their sexual orientation is unnatural and perverted. What is the threat that these people pose to the rest of us that they must be denied their full rights of citizenship? What disqualifies homosexuals from the principles of equality set forth in the Declaration of Independence as inalienable?

Further, the moral superiority that the intolerant award themselves on this issue offends me even more.

You would think that the leaders of the black community, a group that has experienced so much discrimination and prejudice over the course of American history, would be the last to turn around and stigmatize other people, but the opposite is true.

The greatest crime of American slavery was the destruction of African-American families, yet isn't that exactly what is being done to homosexuals in this country? (Pollsters say that the heavy black turnout for President Barack Obama in California also pushed the Proposition 8 ban on gay marriages into law.) People need to realize that, historically, the same organizations that have sought to deny rights to gays have also discriminated against blacks.

As such, my heart goes out to the gay African-American men and boys of Baltimore and the nation. I sincerely hope to see the day when they can feel safe in their own communities and enjoy the full benefits of American life, including the chance to serve in the military and to marry. Or simply feel safe in high school.

By now we all should know that their difference is part of our nation's strength, and the hate that they receive daily is the main measure of our nation's weakness. Truly, we are only as free as the least free among us.
Link to story here.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Murder of Puerto Rican Gay Teen

Juan A. Martinez, 25, was arrested and charged with five counts for the murder of Puerto Rican gay teen Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado, 19.

“Juan A. Martinez Matos was arrested late Monday in connection with the slaying of Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado, whose decapitated, dismembered and partially burned body was found Friday afternoon on a road in central Puerto Rico.”

Martinez calls the decapitated and dismembered body a cause of “gay panic.” Martinez admits to thinking that Mercado was a female prostitute before inviting him to his home. It was there before the initial act of sex that Martinez found out that Mercado was male.

The U.S. Attorney's Office, in consultation with local officials and other agencies, would determine whether the slaying will be prosecuted as a hate crime.

"It's at a very preliminary stage," Lymarie Llovet, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office in San Juan, Puerto Rico's capital, said Tuesday. "There's the potential for a federal investigation."

News organization are reporting that Martinez has been sexually abused by men during a prison term a few years ago which ignited regression.

According to Telemundo and other local reports, Martinez Matos confessed to authorities that he picked Lopez Mercado up from the street, thinking that he was a woman.

When he realized that Lopez Mercado was a man, Martinez Matos said he regressed to an incident when he was sexually assaulted during a prison term, Telemundo and local reports said.

That's when a conflict started between the two, authorities said, leading to the teen's death.

The slaying has received national coverage because of the relentless push by the Puerto Rican gay community. President Obama recently signed the Matthew Shepard & James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act which extends protections to acts “motivated by a person's actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.”

No word on whether or not Martinez would be charged with a hate crime.

Click link for full story.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Pray the Gay Away

Donnie McClurkin is at it again spewing more hateful and discriminatory speech against queer folks. The reformed homosexual calls gays “vampires”, lashes out at openly gay gospel singer Tonex, and asks him to “pray the gay away.” Much like he did. McClurkin has a (post-gay) history of banting about homosexuality even after allegations arise contradicting his newly found "lifestyle."
It is this sort of rhetoric that makes the mission of the Rashawn Brazell Memorial Fund that more crucial. There are men and women in attendance in this church who are being taught to hate themselves and to be internally homophobic. What makes it even worse is that often these people never leave the church and continue to sit at the throne of hypocrisy.

Watch the video here.

Rod 2.0 also gives a review of the video here.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Profile: Jared Dewese

I began volunteering for the Rashawn Brazell Memorial Fund in March of this year through association with Larry Lyons. I’d always admired the work Larry did with the fund and was more than pleased to become part of the efforts. I moved to New York from South Carolina five years ago, right before Rashawn’s murder. It was a case that was so real to me because I was a young gay black man, just as Rashawn was.

Throughout my life I had been taught by my parents to become involved in civic pursuits, and while I had from elementary school through college this was my first opportunity to really be a part of something that affected my demographic. Since becoming a part of RBMF, I have worked on various projects, most of the related to arts and culture and event planning which are areas that I am most interested and suited for.

Rashawn’s death made me sit up and understand the importance of visibility of the black gay man in mainstream society. So often new stories about our community is only reflected in the negative, and when that happens it makes our lives count less to the majority of people in this country. Perhaps, if black gay men were more visible in a positive manner, Rashawn’s killer would have been found by now or maybe even he would be alive. So it made me aware of the need to be accounted for and be honest about who I am to everyone. We are not just ‘down-low’ men or flamboyant hairstylist that are often portrayed in the media, and even if that is what some of us are there are many more of us who are not and we all deserve respect. It also came to me at this time that if we don’t get the simple natural respect we deserve as human beings, we must demand and command it.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Hate Crime Attacks Run Rampant in L.I.

It was the end of the run for Frank Carney, 16, as he was charge with menacing as a hate crime for being half of a duo of crazy homophobes yielding knives and chasing a 22 year old man through Bellmore, L.I. This arrest comes in the heels of another hate crime attack a few days ago in Long Island. Robert Bellamy, 23, was arraigned for a brutal beating and robbery of two men from Lakeview, L.I. After being questioned about his connection with the crime Bellamy retorted, "God made me hate gay people." Two other men are being sought in connection to the beating and robbery.

NYC Council Speaker Quinn Urges Marriage Equality Vote

Source Rod 2.0

Christine Quinn, the first gay person to lead the New York City Council, was asked earlier today about Tuesday's potential marriage equality vote in the New York State Senate. As she responded to the question, Quinn was "fighting back tears" and "struggled several times to control her emotions", reports the Daily News.

Said Speaker Quinn: "I obviously ... urge the members of the state Senate to vote for marriage equality. It's an incredibly important piece of legislation, and tomorrow is an incredibly important moment. If the bill is voted on and passed tomorrow, a week after a referendum .... passed in Maine that took rights away from the residents of Maine. Seven days after that the New York State Senate stands up and says all New York families are equal, what a message that sends about what we believe as a state."

Thursday, November 05, 2009

10 Year Old won't Pledge Allegiance to Flag

Will Phillips, 10, from Arkansas won’t pledge allegiance to the American flag until gay Americans have equal rights. When his classmates are standing and pledging allegiance, he stays seated as a sign of protest. The aspiring lawyer, whose parents are very gay-friendly, realized the contradiction of a nation that values “justice for all” but doesn’t recognize the legal rights that’s granted to an individual through due process.

Click for story here.

You're Invited!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Anti-Gay Activists Deliver Testimony

Earlier this week, Cirque Du Stupid was on full display as the D.C. City Council heard testimony from anti-gay “Christians” opposed to the marriage equality bill. The bill introduced by openly gay city councilman David Catania would end the same-sex marriage ban imposed in D.C. and allow same sex couples to get married. The bill has ten out of the 13 city council members as co-sponsors with only one city councilmember - Marion Barry of ward 8 - opposed to the bill. Council members Harry Thomas Jr., Yvette Alexander have asked for more time to read the bill before drawing a conclusion. The city council is expected to vote on the bill sometime during the forthcoming week.

Watch the video currently making the rounds of the net. Being homophobic seems like a part time job.