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.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Gov. Paterson Says Marriage Equality Bill Will Pass in New York

Source: Rod 2.0

New York Gov. David Paterson says he expects to sign a marriage equality bill into law in the coming weeks.

Paterson says he expects the Senate to approve the measure. That would make New York the seventh state to legalize same-sex marriage. The Democrat-led Assembly approved 89-52 its version of the marriage bill in May. The bill has been stalled in the Senate.

Says the governor: "No longer in New York' will same-sex couples have to worry about insurance coverage, being allowed to visit each other hospitals, or whether they will be guaranteed the same rights as other married couples under law." Paterson's remarks were cheered by more than 1,200 people at the fall dinner of the Empire State Pride Agenda.
The governor expects to place the bill on the agenda for a special Senate session in the weeks ahead. But there are concerns that a Senate marriage vote may be tied to deal to balance the Empire State's $3 billion budget deficit. "I don't think the issue of civil rights should be tied to the budget," Alan Van Capelle of Empire State Pride Agenda tells WABC.

Click here to read full story.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Senate Passes Landmark Bill

Victory is herald throughout the nation as the senate approves and passes a hate crime bill inclusive of LGBT folks. Named after Matthew Shepard, the Wyoming native murdered 11 years ago, the Matthew Shepard Act “include crimes based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.” The measure was first introduced by the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass ten years ago and has been kept under a congressional agenda after failing several times to be passed.

Hate crimes law enacted after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1968 centered on crimes based on race, color, religion or national origin.

The expansion has long been sought by civil rights and gay rights groups. Conservatives have opposed it, arguing that it creates a special class of victims. They also have been concerned that it could silence clergymen or others opposed to homosexuality on religious or philosophical grounds.

The FBI reports that 16 percent of hate crimes are motivated by sexual orientation, fueling Attorney General Eric Holder’s desire to get the bill passed urgently. “It has been one of my highest personal priorities to ensure that this legislation finally becomes law,” he told the Associate Press.

Read full story here.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Justice for Price

Jack Price, an openly gay man from Queens, NY was viciously attacked by two hoodlums who “didn’t have hate on their minds”. Daniel Rodriguez and Daniel Aleman were caught on tape beating the defenseless Price. Both Rodriquez and Aleman claimed self-defense, but by the looks of the video is evident that both are lying. According to the suspects, Price was soliciting men by writing his phone number on a wall before being confronted by Aleman and Rodriquez. Somehow this story doesn’t add up.

[Rodriguez] claimed that Price provoked him by writing graffiti of a sexual nature in the bodega where the confrontation began.

Then, prosecutors say Rodriguez admitted to using an anti-gay slur and stealing Price's wallet. He also allegedly told detectives, "I was angry, cause Jack is disgusting."
Price insists he did not write any graffiti and otherwise did nothing to provoke the attack. And as for Rodriguez' dad, Price's family says they may never forgive his son, but they don't blame him.

Price is expected to leave the hospital within the next few days. He has been on breathing tubes since the altercation.
Read full story here.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Jack Price March & Rally In Queens

Source: Joe.My.God

By Joe.My.God

This afternoon the Farmboyz and I traveled to the working-class neighborhood of College Point, Queens, far past the end of subway service, to attend the march and rally in support of gay bashing victim Jack Price. We were a bit concerned that the 90+ minute trek from Manhattan might hamper a strong show of support, but were very pleased to arrive and find about 300 LGBT activists, allies, and supportive locals already on the street near the site of the attack.

After a 15-minute march down College Point Boulevard to the sullen or unknowing stares of locals, we were shocked to find a group of 20 or so counter-protesters, PRO gay bashers, already in a pen perilously close to the park where the rally was to take place. Leading the pro-bashers was Mr. Leviticus Tattoo himself. He and his co-thugs wore stickers in support of the jailed cowards as they shouted "Free Daniel Rodriquez!" and "No hate crime!" Among their signs was "Daniel doesn't hate gays!" Riiiight. Fortunately, there was a huge NYPD presence on hand and the two groups were not permitted to get closer than shouting distance.
Read full story here.

Friday, October 16, 2009

A mother's story: Hate crime brings new bond with transgender child

Source: The Grio
By: Bonnita Spikes

Early on, l knew my son Michael was different. While my three other sons begged me to buy them G.I. Joe figurines and were obsessed with football, Michael preferred playing with My Little Pony and taking tap dance lessons.

In Prince Georges County, Maryland where we live, we have a diverse group of friends so the idea of having a gay son didn't scare or shock us. Sure, we feared he had a hard road ahead of him - being bullied at school, getting fired from his job for being gay and facing the possibility that he may never be able to be legally married - but with our love, we knew he was going to be okay.

When Michael turned 16, he told us that he wasn't a gay man. Instead, he was a transgender woman named Michelle who had been dressing as a woman when he left the house. At that point, my husband and I both realized that this was a big deal. My son was now my daughter.

Even though I am an activist and somewhat liberal, I didn't know what being transgender meant. After doing some serious soul searching, my husband and I concluded that our child needed us. Unlike too many of her friends whose parents had kicked them out for being gay or transgender, we were going to open our minds even further than what we thought was possible. It was difficult. But we started going to family therapy and things were slowly getting better.

But everything changed in December 1999, the day my daughter Michelle became the target of a hate crime.

While standing in line with her friends at a club in Atlanta, Michelle was struck in the head with a metal pipe by a stranger who did not like the fact that she was a transgender woman. She fell to the ground and her skull split open.

The doctors weren't very hopeful - they didn't think she was going to make it. As she lay there unconscious, she was unrecognizable. Her head was shaved, there was a V-shaped scar down the side of her face, and she was bruised and swollen.

For weeks, my family, my friends and my minister prayed by her bedside, not confident that we would ever hear her voice again. When she finally woke up, we were ecstatic. But we were realistic that a full recovery was miles away. Michelle had temporary amnesia and didn't even remember me. One day, I asked her if she knew who I was and she said, "No, but you seem like a really nice lady."

Those moments made my heart break, but my daughter was alive and that's all that mattered.

After her attack and full recovery, I reached out to the Gay, Transgender, Lesbian and Bisexual National Hotline for support and was referred to the Sexual Minority Youth Alliance League. They offered me educational workshops about the transgender community and they introduced me to other women like Michelle. Most important, they encouraged me to bond with Michelle on a mother-daughter level. So we started shopping for clothes and makeup together, getting our nails done and hanging out at home more. Now, Michelle feels more comfortable with me and vice versa -she even puts pressure on me to dress more fashionable when going out.

I look at her and I see someone amazing - someone fabulous.

I was fully aware of the homophobia that haunts our community. However, it was not until my child was beaten and left for dead did I ever truly believe that having the courage to be true to oneself could result in being killed. Yet, Michelle's story is not rare. Unfortunately, for many trans women living in the U.S., violence and death are a way of life, especially those who are African American. According to the Human Rights Campaign, 1 in 12 transgender Americans faces the chance of being murdered; while the average person has about a one in 18,000 chance.

From one parent to another, more work needs to be done to protect our children regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity. We are all products of God and deserve to live, be loved and have peace of mind.

Link to story here.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Quit Leaving Queers Behind

The Human Rights Campaign building was defaced amid their National Fundraising Dinner on October 10th. Ironically, the attack was not motivated by homophobia. Encrypted in paint was the message, “Quit Leaving Queers Behind”. The message was from the radical queer group “Queers Against Assimilation.”

Queers Against Assimilation released this letter:

Communique from the Forgotton:

Human Rights Campaign HQ Glamdalized By Queers Against Assimilation

HRC headquarters was rocked by an act of glamdalism last night by a crew of radical queer and allied folks armed with pink and black paint and glitter grenades. Beside the front entrance and the inscribed mission statement now reads a tag, Quit leaving queers behind.

The HRC is not a democratic or inclusive institution, especially for the people who they claim to represent. Just like society today, the HRC is run by a few wealthy elites who are in bed with corporate sponsors who proliferate militarism, heteronormativity, and capitalist exploitation. The sweatshops (Nike), war crimes (Lockheed Martin), assaults on working class people (Bank of America, Deloitte, Chase Bank, Citi Group,Wachovia Bank) and patriarchy (American Apparel) caused by their sponsors is a hypocrisy for an organization with human rights in their name.

The queer liberation movement has been misrepresented and co-opted by the HRC. The HRC marginalizes us into a limited struggle for aspiring homosexual elites to regain the privilege that they‘ve lost and climb the social ladder towards becoming bourgeoisie.
Last night, Obama spoke at the HRC fundraising gala and currently the HRC website declares, President Obama underlines his unwavering support for LGBT Americans.

The vast amount of organizing resources the HRC wastes on their false alliance with the Democratic party leaves radical queers on the margins to fend for themselves. Our struggle has always had to resist the repression of conservative tendencies in government and society to gain liberation in our lives.

The gourmet affair was sponsored by 48 corporations including giants Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, and Wachovia Bank. At $250 dollars a plate the HRC served our movement a rich, white, heternormative atmosphere that purposefully excludes working class queer folks.

REMEMBER THE STONEWALL RIOTS! On the 40th anniversary of Stonewall, pigs raided a queer bar in Texas, arrested and beat our friends, and we looked towards politicians and lawyers to protect us. This mentality is what keeps the money flowing to the HRC and their pet Democrats, and keeps our fists in our pockets.

Most of all we disagree that collective liberation will be granted by the state or its institutions like prisons, marriage, and the military. We need to escalate our struggle, or it will collapse.

~~Love and Solidarity~~

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Respect for All

Dear New Yorker,

Raising our children free of hate and prejudice should be among our highest priorities.

Last Friday I, along with the New York City Department of Education, announced a new initiative that will expand and strengthen the City's efforts to combat bullying and bias-based harassment in our schools.

These measures to stop bullying represent a significant expansion of Respect for All, a program that began in 2007 to combat harassment in schools on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, or disability.

While Respect for All has already demonstrated some success, my office worked with advocates to look for ways to expand and improve upon the program.

The newly expanded initiative will extend training programs to all elementary school teachers and counselors; provide principals with additional guidance in creating anti-bullying plans; and make creation of a safe and supportive learning environment factor into school evaluations. Parents will now have the opportunity to review principals' Respect for All plans to help determine which school environment is right for their children.

These new measures will train more teachers and hold principals more accountable.
In addition, I will pursue federal and private funding to develop, pilot and evaluate new staff trainings that could feasibly train every teacher in the New York City public school system, as well as funding to support development and implementation of new student lesson plans.

Below are links to two articles about the new initiative from Gay City News and the Staten Island Advance:



To report an incident of harassment in a New York City public school, please contact the Office of School and Youth Development at (718) 935-4357. You can also e-mail them directly at respectforall@schools.nyc.gov.

Thank you.


Christine C. Quinn


New York City Council

Profile: Steven Emmanuel

I began volunteering for the fund at the end of July 2009. Larry Lyon, the co-founder of the Rashawn Brazell Memorial Fund, reached out to me about becoming a volunteer. I’ve heard about Rashawn’s story the year before through some friends. The night I heard about Rashawn’s story, I googled his name and began to acquaint myself with this young man. I was appalled at what I was reading. I think the most troublesome part about Rashawn’s story is that he was a young Black gay man like myself. His murder could have easily happened to me or any other young black gay man. That reason alone was enough to get me to be a part of this incredible initiative. I have always held a strong commitment to social justice and a commitment to improving the quality of life for the black gay community. When Larry Lyon reached out to me I thought, what a better way to fulfill that commitment than by working with an organization whose mission it is to end social injustice in a disadvantaged community.

One of my main contributions to the fund is maintaining the blog site. I have done a lot of work with publications and I think this is the medium I can most lend my skills to. One of my goals for the site is to expand content delivery and updating it more frequently while adding personal interviews. The blog site adds depth to the fund’s initiatives, because it keeps people in the know about stories of anti-violence that affects queer communities, particularly those of color.

Rashawn Brazell has become the poster boy for everything that is wrong in the mainstream when it comes to reporting stories across mainstream color and sexual lines. It is important that we have a strong network of support that advocates for stories like Rashawn, because if no one steps up to the plate, the legacy of these young men and women would die in vain. At the end of the day, a cycle of bigotry and ignorance is what we want to lack.

Steven Emmanuel can be reached at sm07@hampshire.edu

Anti-LGBT attack in Hell's Kitchen: Speaker Christine Quinn Responds

Dear New Yorker,

Early Saturday morning there was a report of an anti-LGBT attack in Hell's Kitchen in which two individuals were the victims of a physical assault. I am obviously outraged by news that another bias attack has occurred in our city. But I am also deeply concerned by reports from the victims that NYPD officers responding to the scene did not appropriately recognize the seriousness of the incident. In fact, it has been reported that they failed to attempt to apprehend or even to collect contact information from the alleged assailant. If these reports are true, the behavior of the police officers involved was also outrageous and merits swift action by the police department.

In response I have spoken to Police Commissioner Kelly's office. They have agreed to conduct an investigation of these reports, and to have police officials meet personally with the victims this week. I am very gratified that the police department has agreed to my requests, and urge them to complete a swift and thorough investigation.

One of the most significant tools that have helped us to combat hate crimes here in New York City is having a strong police response to incidents when they occur. There was a time in our city when victims of hate crimes did not feel that the police were their allies. Any time a crime of this nature occurs, victims need to know they will be taken seriously.

To their credit, the NYPD have demonstrated that they normally respond aggressively and appropriately to such crimes. But even one such failure can begin to undermine all of our collaborative and historic efforts. In addition, every victim deserves to have their incident taken as seriously as any other. I will continue to work with advocates and the NYPD to increase and expand training when needed, so police officers have the tools they need to respond appropriately to bias attacks.

Attached is a sheet outlining steps that you can take if you or someone you know is the victim of an anti-LGBT attack. For more information, please contact my LGBT Community Liaison, Erik Bottcher, at (212) 788-5646. You can also e-mail me directly at the following link:


Thank you.

Christine C. Quinn
New York City Council

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Closeted Pastor Faces Murder Trial

Once again the extremes of internalized homophobia has revealed itself. Anti-gay - and closeted - Pastor Robert Reaves murdered the girlfriend of roommate and man- crush Steven Randolph. Randolph was unaware of Reaves sexuality and his advancements, but once it became clear to him that Reaves was something other than straight he reminded him of his heterosexuality.

“Randolph testified that in the fall of 2007 he did not immediately recognize the pastor's proposals as sexual advances toward him. But Randolph said once he realized Reaves' intentions, he told the pastor he was not homosexual or bisexual.

That encounter made Randolph so uneasy, he testified, that he not only left the house immediately to seek refuge with friends, he also got a gun from his cousin to keep in his bedroom.”

In 1988 Reaves was accused and convicted of sexual misconduct with young boys. The prosecution has evidence of Reaves advances to other men and jealous rages on their girlfriends.

Defense lawyers are arguing that the murder was not committed by Reaves, and that he is the wrong suspect in custody.