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Telling the stories of LGBTQ Murder Victims

The stories of Sakia Gunn, Matthew Shepard, and other LGBTQ murder victims should be remembered and told in a way that honors their lives and raises awareness about the impact of hate crimes on marginalized communities. This is a call to action to end anti-LGBTQ violence and discrimination.

Sakia Gunn: Remembering Her Life

Who Was Sakia Gunn?

Sakia was a 15-year-old lesbian who lived in Newark, New Jersey. On May 11, 2003, Sakia and her friends were waiting for a bus home after a night out when they were approached by a group of men. The men made sexual advances towards the girls, and when Sakia rejected their advances, she was fatally stabbed in the chest.Sakia's tragic death sparked widespread outrage and calls for change. She is remembered as a vibrant young woman who was taken too soon because of hate and intolerance. Her story shines a light on the need for greater protections for LGBTQ youth and increased public education around hate crimes. 

Matthew Shepard's Story: A Tragedy Remembered

"I am the same person I always was. If you live through the experience of being gay and lesbian, it's a huge struggle. It's hard enough to tell people, let alone to get them to accept you. And when they don't, you get this hit squad mentality where people are going to beat and kill you because they don't like you."

Matthew Shepard was a 21-year-old college student who was beaten and left for dead in a hate crime in Laramie, Wyoming in 1998. He died days later from his injuries. His murder prompted widespread outrage and activism, leading to the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act in 2009, which expanded federal hate crime protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

Other LGBTQ Murder Victims: Honoring Their Memory

Jorge Steven López Mercado

Jorge was a gender-nonconforming teenager who was brutally murdered and dismembered in Puerto Rico in 2009. His murder, which was classified as a hate crime, led to widespread protests and calls for greater protections for LGBTQ people in Puerto Rico.

Angie Zapata

Angie was a transgender woman who was beaten to death in Colorado in 2008. Her killer was later convicted of a hate crime, marking the first time that a transgender murder had been classified as such under Colorado law.

The Impact of Hate Crimes on LGBTQ Communities

According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, LGBTQ people are more likely to experience violent hate crimes than any other marginalized group.

In 2019, there were 22 reported hate crime murders of LGBTQ people, and 16 of those were transgender women of color.

The impact of these hate crimes extends beyond the individual victims and affects entire communities, including increased fear, trauma, and social isolation for LGBTQ people.

Challenges in Reporting and Prosecuting Hate Crimes

Reporting Challenges

LGBTQ people may be hesitant to report hate crimes due to fear of further victimization, lack of trust in law enforcement, or lack of awareness of their legal rights. Additionally, underreporting and misclassification of hate crimes can make it difficult to fully understand the scope of the problem.

Prosecution Challenges

Hate crimes can be difficult to prosecute due to insufficient evidence or undercharging by prosecutors. Additionally, many states do not have hate crime laws that include LGBTQ people, making it more difficult to hold perpetrators accountable.

A Call to Action: Ending Anti-LGBTQ Violence and Discrimination

Support LGBTQ Organizations

Support LGBTQ organizations that work to promote equality and fight discrimination, such as the Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, and The Trevor Project.

Speak Out Against Hate

Speak out against anti-LGBTQ hate and violence whenever you see it. This can include reporting hate crimes, calling out hate speech, and supporting victims and their families.

Advocate for Policy Change

Advocate for policy change at the local and national level by contacting elected officials and participating in grassroots advocacy efforts.

Become an Ally

Take steps to become an ally to LGBTQ people by learning about the issues facing our community, being willing to listen and learn from our experiences, and advocating for equality and inclusion in all areas of society.


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