Hate Crimes Foundation Launches As FBI Reports Rise in Attacks

The FBI reported on Monday that hate crimes involving race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnic or national origin or physical or mental disability rose nearly eight percent last year.

Hatecrimevictims_3CNN reports: “As has been the case since the FBI began collecting hate crime data in 1991, the most frequent motivation was racial bias, accounting for 51.8 percent of the incidents in 2006. That was down slightly from the 54.7 percent in 2005. Also in 2006, religious bias was blamed for 18.9 percent of the incidents; sexual orientation bias for 15.5 percent, and ethnic or national origin for 12.7 percent. Of the 7,330 offenders identified by police, 58.6 percent were white, 20.6 percent were black, 12.9 percent were of unknown racial background and other races accounted for the remainder. The greatest percentage of incidents, 31 percent, occurred near residences or homes. Another 18 percent occurred on highways or streets, 12.2 percent at colleges or schools, 6.1 percent in parking lots or garages, 3.9 percent at churches, synagogues or temples. The remainder occurred at other specific locations, multiple locations or unknown locations. Lack of full participation by the more than 17,000 police agencies around the nation somewhat undermines year-to-year comparisons.”

Last week, over 100 people attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the official launch of the Gay American Heroes Foundation at the Broward County Library. The newly-formed organization, which I wrote about back in August, is spearheading the construction of a traveling exhibit that would commemorate LGBT victims of hate crimes and raise awareness about the problem.

Gah_2A scale model of the exhibit was unveiled which will display the word HEROES on six colored panels, stars, with the name, vocation, home state and date of death of each hero, and pictures of each hero on adjacent panels. All people viewing the exhibit will first enter an entrance where they can view video, see information regarding hate crimes in the USA, and offer their thoughts and blessings to those who have been murdered due to the sexual orientation or gender identity. At right is one of the group’s marketing materials as well as a very simple, preliminary mock-up of how they intend the exhibit to look.

At the launch, Gay American Heroes raised $17,000 through a silent auction, private donations, a $5,000 donation from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and its Adopt-a-Hero program in which donations can be made in the name of a specific hate crime victim. Present at the launch were Founder and President, Scott Hall, Chip Arndt, Board of Director, spokesperson and Director for Outreach and Finance, Jack Rutland, Board of Directors and Executive Director of Stonewall Library and Archives, David Cornell, Board of Directors and Development Director of Dade Community Foundation and The Reverend Grant Ford, Pastor of the Sunshine Cathedral.

Merrill Lynch came on board as the group’s first corporate sponsor. To date, Barry University, Clemson University, Florida University, Harvard University, Nova University, Penn State, and Yale University have agreed to display the exhibit and the accompanying education exhibition on their respective campuses in 2008. The group’s goal is to raise $75,000 in order to build the traveling exhibit.

The group also has a Facebook group and a MySpace page.

As I noted previously, I have agreed to serve as an honorary board member for the non-profit, along with many others.

Exclusive: National Memorial for LGBT Hate Crime Victims Launches [tr]


  1. Tread says

    That ad is a bit stereotypical. A “redneck” with a board? Perhaps they should re-evaluate and actually do research into who is committing these hate crimes instead of aiming for the stereotypical “hate crime perpetrator”. Hate crimes are committed by a wide gamut of people.

  2. the queen says

    well I don’t think because you get bashed or murdered that makes you a hero. and the choice of the bear for the basher on the poster doesn’t make sense either. he looks like your average customer at any levi/leather bar here in town. not surprised at the rise in crime, ‘tho ’cause when you start asserting yourself, and fighting for your rights, the creeps don’t like it. more power to the queens.

  3. Leland Frances says

    Applause to you Andy for supporting this! Alas, here we go again with the Bitch Queens trashing this great group of people over word choice; now joined by silly attacks on the bashing illustration. Give me a fucking break! Unlike the people behind the project, I’d wager that most of those clucking like barren old hens have done nothing formally yourself to try to do anything to combat anti-LGBT hate crimes. Speech may be free, but is there any reason why one can’t ask it to also be fair? So before anyone else piles on, please present your credentials. What have YOU done today to stop others, regardless of what they look like, from attacking gays?

    For the record, this is the group’s extremely valid explanation of their word choice: “All people who live honestly about their sexual orientation are heroic, as it takes great strength and courage to face the daily struggles for personal freedom in the face of enormous opposition; to ultimately give their life for said freedom makes them heroes.”

    Unlike the victims of 9/11, the individuals covered in this exhibit weren’t simply sitting in a building one day that was blown up not for who they were but for the significance of the building itself. The subjects of this exhibit, however, were consciously targeted, either with predatory premeditation such as Michael Sandy, or spontaneous crimes of opportunity built around homohatred such as Matthew Shepard, or eruptions of homohating rage such as that which drove Gwen Araujo’s killers. Each was just going about being themselves, into a world still filled with antigay/antitrans animals, whether they roam the streets of one of the largest, most sophisticated cities in the world such as New York City where Denny was stalked, or the modern West of Wyoming where Shepard was beaten to death, or within miles of the gay ground zero of San Francisco whose TV stations first reported Araujo’s brutal execution. Each of them went out alone the night they died, simply, fully being themselves, not in “safe” gay places, and they never made it home. THAT is the lesson this exhibit needs most to teach nongay America; that in 2007 you can still be killed for just being yourself; and by their ignorance of that, by their refusing to denounce those who demonize gays whether it be the President of the United States or a pulpit pimping cretin in a clerical collar or a psychopath and his inbred clan waving signs and shouting “Fags Die God Laughs” or rappers or Beenie men——THEY, the silent ones, the apathetic ones, are simply unindicted coconspirators. Note that, according to the FBI report, the percentage of hate crimes against gays has not just gone up, but is at least 50% higher than the highest estimates of our percent of the population. And these are just the attacks that have been REPORTED!

    By getting not us but that general public to ask, “Why ‘heroes’?” and giving them such answers, more will learn who otherwise never would that the logical conclusion of dehumanizing people is death. And that we are not the “Other,” just the occasional victims they hear about, tsk tsk, or kneeslapping minstrel show stars like Carson and Ross the Intern, or fodder for jokes in Adam Sandler movies, or celebrities with uncontrollable impulses busted in public restrooms like George Michael. We are the faceless ones until a surviving relative gives our picture to the newspaper. We are young. we are middle-aged, we are old; we are white and Black and Brown and Asian; we are poor, we are middle class, we are rich; we pass for straight or couldn’t pass in a fog; we die in fem drag and college student drag, in clothes we bought at Wal*Mart sales or along Rodeo Drive; at the hands of the college educated AND two-by-four wielding cretins. We are someone’s sons and daughters and brothers and sisters and fathers and mothers and friends and neighbors, and the risks we take just being fully human makes us, yes, a kind of hero.

    And it’s time we STOPPED only talking to each other about it!

  4. anon (gmail.com) says

    No, Leland that is just silly. There are several problems with conflating heroism with victimization. The two need to remain distinct. (And what does this have to do with 9-11? The people in the towers were always referred to as victims. The firemen were referred to as heroes.)

    1) They’re just confusing people. If the general public can’t figure out what they are trying to say then they’ve lost them.
    2) Victims aren’t really heroes in disguise and being brave does not automatically make you a hero. You degrade the meaning of heroism by making these problematic conflations. Likewise, the holocaust could be said to have had many victims but few heroes. It is important to note this as a way of extending a sense of responsibility to the wider world, aka shame.
    3) I’ve already noted elsewhere the lack of consistency in their selections and the whitewashing of categories. For example, str8 people who were victims of hate because their attackers thought they were gay. Str8 people who came to the rescue when a gay person was attacked, etc.
    4) The male pictured is alas a victim of stereotyping on the part of the committee, as noted.
    5) There is a holocaust museum (several, actually), so why not a hate-crimes museum? This whole project would be much better if regained some focus.

  5. Seattle says

    I’ve got to agree about the misuse of the word “hero” here. What did they do that was heroic?

    “Martyr” would be more correct, but it’s got too many Islamist associations to use. More to the point, these victims were never given the opportunity to be heroes because their lives were snuffed out due to prejudice. Victims of these attacks who survive and then report the crimes are closer to being heroes since it takes guts to report this kind of abuse.

    The use of the word “heroes” in this way needlessly raises this whole side issue, rather than focusing on the actual problem.

  6. Matt says

    Great Group but in all seriousness the picture of the redneck with a 2×4 is very sterotypical. It does kind of remind me of my childhood watching that old wrestler, Hacksaw Jim Duggin. He carried an American flag and a 2×4 like that.

    Sorry Leland, I didn’t read you long winded post. B-O-R-I-N-G.

  7. 24play says

    All of this criticism was raised when Andy first posted about Gay American Heroes. And from this roll-out, it seems not a bit of it was taken to heart by any of the organizers.

    Great intentions. Deeply problematic efforts. What a shame.

  8. Leland Frances says

    I’m sorry, ANON aka “too lazy and cowardly even to pick a screenname” and Seattle and Matt and 24Play—what were your credentials again for criticizing people attempting to make things better while you just bloviate out your asses?

    The fact that you don’t even try to get the message behind their word choice is no more their fault or mine than Obama’s failure to get how he fucked up with embracing a Donnie McClurkin.

    And you’re factually wrong asserting that 9/11 victims are never referred to as heroes. “The Pentagon’s America’s Heroes Memorial is dedicated to the 184 people killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the Pentagon.” – http://www.defenselink.mil/photos/newsphoto.aspx?newsphotoid=4018

    “(CNN)—On the sixth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, CNN asked users to share their stories of heroes from that fateful day and how they were being remembered. ….Joshua Miller of Peoria, Illinois, I would like to remember Patrick ‘Joe’ Driscoll today. He lost his life aboard Flight 93 on the morning of September 11, 2001. Joe was a man in his 70s who had had heart bypass surgery and hip replacement surgery…Theju Mudda of Bangalore, India: My deep condolences to the innocent people who got killed in the 9/11 event. The event should be remembered as Heroes Day—for the people who sacrificed their lives trying to save other lives and for the people who gave their lives for no mistake of theirs. etc., etc.”

    “The male pictured is alas a victim of stereotyping on the part of the committee”???? What a fucking RETARDED comment. Perhaps you and Matt should start an organization to defend them.

    “To be yourself—in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you like everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight,
    and never stop fighting. ~ E.E. Cummings

  9. Bill Perdue, RainbowRED says

    “I have no doubt we shall win, but the road is long and red with monstrous martyrdoms”.
    Oscar Wilde

    Wilde was a hero because he accepted himself.They victimized him for it just like they victimize all GLBT folk who accept themselves. But often their quiet heroism is met with violence.

    GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network, a member of UnitedENDA, says in their 2005 National School Climate Survey that 75. 4% of students heard “faggot” or “dyke” frequently. 37.8% were physically HARASSED because of sexual orientation and 26.1% because of their gender expression. 17.6% OF STUDENTS WERE PHYSICALLY ASSAULTED BECAUSE OF THEIR SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND 11.8% BECAUSE OF THEIR GENDER EXPRESSION.

    The US Department of Justice, in its report Hate Crimes on Campus (DOJ Publication NJC187249) says that campus hate crimes usually go unreported. They state that “students report hearing degrading language about women, gays and lesbians on a daily basis…” and that “the use of such language creates an atmosphere that permits conduct to escalate from mere words to stronger words, to threats, and ultimately to violence.”

    Young gays and lesbians aren’t the only victims, just the least protected. Violence and harassment against LGBT people as a whole is on the rise again according to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, also a member of UnitedENDA. Political and religious bigotry is the immediate and primary cause of violence against lesbians and gays. The usual suspects are the Republican-christian totalitarian axis of evil and Democrats who pander to bigots. Hostility to same-sex marriage is a flashpoint in encouraging violence. When San Francisco briefly allowed same-sex marriages ceremonies violence in that city rapidly spiked with a 14% increase.

    In 2007-8 with the elections generating higher levels of hate speech by politicians, priests and preachers these figures and the stats for hate crimes will rise in parallel. We’ll all have to remember to look out for one another until after the elections.

    The NCAVP’s and FBI’s counts are just indicators. They don’t include unreported incidents or those disregarded by homophobic police and DA’s.

    Malcolm X, before he was murdered, discussed taking the case against racist violence in the US before the UN and the World Court. We’d be doing ourselves a favor stealing a page from his book. Especially since UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour says that “violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons is frequently unreported, undocumented and goes ultimately unpunished. … This shameful silence is the ultimate rejection of the fundamental principle of universality of rights. … “ The UN and UnitedENDA want everyone in the LGBT equation protected from violence and discrimination even if Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi can’t stomach the idea.

    Whatever the numbers, these beatings, murders and other kinds of abuse are intolerable. These aren’t the Dark Ages and we shouldn’t have to live with that fear.

  10. Derrick from Philly says

    I’ll be damned! Whenever Leland Frances and Bill Perdue come close to agreeing on any subject then it’s time to stand up and take notice. Of course, I had to look up the definition of “hero” after reading these comments and thinking about the original controversy. The word “courageous” kept coming up in every definition I read.

    aybe you have to be near age fifty or older to understand that just being “out” makes you courageous…being murdered for it makes you more–why not a “hero”?

  11. Bill Perdue, RainbowRED says

    People who think that Shakia Gunn, a young lesbian, Matthew Shepard, a young gay man, and Gwyn Araujo, a young transsexual aren’t heroes are mistaken. They paid in blood because they couldn’t stand the closet. Everyone who accepts themselves and goes on in spite of the bigots is a hero. Even if, especially if their lives are snuffed out by the bigots.

    Today is the 9th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance. It gives us an opportunity to remember why we stand together, even if we come from different communities. It’s so we won’t fall together.

  12. anon (gmail.com) says

    Head for the hills folks! Bill, Leland and Derrick all agreeing on something? Inconceivable!

    However, to quote/paraphrase the Princess Bride: “I do not that word means what you think it means.”

    There probably is a good word out there, something along the lines of “steadfast”, and if I have time, I’ll try to find one. As far as being self-accepting goes, not all the victims were out (some were not even gay), and would we regard the Phelps clan as a bunch of heroes?

    As far as this ridiculous exercise in false modesty goes, they should just put up a Frank Kameny statue and be done with it. Who’s kidding whom here?

  13. Paul says

    It all comes down to the circumstances of each situation. I deeply mourn the ruthless murder of Gwen Araujo, for example, but she was exhibiting terrible judgment hanging out with and fucking rednecks (while tricking them about her pre-surgery gender).

    No I’m not blaming the victim in the slightest, or suggesting in any way that “she had it coming to her.” (She was only 16, for chrissakes.) But as we’ve discussed in previous posts, some people are clearer targets. Gays and TVs/TGs, especially in small towns, should travel in packs or move. A capacity for self-defense is a capacity for self-preservation.

    Yes I know many of these victims were in situations they couldn’t avoid, and the brutality of their murders is horrendous. I’m just recommending a little healthy paranoia—we have a lot of enemies, and we always need to be vigilant of the possibility we’ll be the next victims/martyrs.

  14. Paul says

    Who’s kidding whom with being Anon? I mean really. You can post under any name you want. It doesn’t have to be your real name.

    They were victims of murder, became martyrs for the cause, and are fondly, understandably, and rightly or wrongly remembered by their loved ones as heros. How much more parsing of semantics do we need?

  15. Derrick from PHilly says

    I thought “ANON” was some kind of Egyptian god. But I do recognize postings by “ANON(GMAIL.COM)”. I thought he was black, and even though he’s not–I still like him all right.

  16. anon (gmail.com) says

    Derrick: thank you for elevating me to deity status!

    Amon-Ra was a sun god (various spellings include Amen–which has Christian significance you’ll note). Was briefly usurped by Aten. Then there is Sun-Ra, God of music I think. Far from being black, I’m practically translucent. No sun gods for me.

  17. Tread says

    Alas, here we go again with the Bitch Que…ZZZZzzzzzzz

    Leland, you have to make your tirades more concise.

    And also address the legitimate point I raised which is that more than just white rednecks commit hate crimes.

    Black people commit hate crimes against other black gays, etc. You don’t have to be white and from the back woods to be able to hate.

  18. ame says

    According to that FBI report hispanics do not commit hate crimes.
    Do you know why?
    Because for the victim side they are put into an ethnic group hispanic.
    For the offender side they put into ‘white’.

    This obviously makes the ‘whites’ commit more crimes then one would normaly consider a ‘white’ offender hate crime.

    This also means that a hispanic cannot commit a racial ‘hate’ crime against a white.

    Aren’t statistics just great?

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