You might have heard that New England had a blizzard this past weekend. Sometimes I get a lot of artwork done on a snow day, but in this case there was too much shoveling and digging that needed to be done for it to become a studio extravaganza. Today my muscles are sore, so I'm glad my task at hand is carving and not printing, as printing can be physically strenuous.
In my research for this print, which is a tribute to LGBT people who have been murdered in the past 30 years or so, I found 33 names to use. Thirty of those names were derived from Google searches. These are mostly the well-publicized murders, like the killings of Matthew Shepard and Brandon Teena. The other three murders are ones that affected me directly -- the killing of my friend and neighbor Joe Kelly (see previous post) and the murder shortly afterward of a lesbian couple named Martha Alsup and Susan Galvin who were well known psychotherapists in Boston and friends of a friend (you can find a short article about their murders here). The fact that I have personally known of three gay people being murdered who do not appear in Google searches would lead me to believe that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of others.
Because I want to truly honor these individuals, I made sure that rather than just list their names I studied their stories a bit. I read the details of each death, and some of the information that came to light about their killers as well. It was difficult work, compounded by the fact that my spouse was away on a nine-day business trip while I was doing the research, so I was home alone. I had to be careful how much I read in one sitting and how late at night I continued to work. It was scary. I prayed a lot.
Obviously, a list of 33 individuals is not enough to draw any hard conclusions about murders of LGBT people in general, but I did discover some interesting things based on my small sample:
- Lesbians seem to be often killed as couples, much more often than gay men. Of the six lesbians in my list, four were killed as a couple. A fifth was attacked with her partner, but the partner survived. Only one lesbian in my list was alone.
- Of the 33 murders listed, only one was carried out with a gun, which was the Harvey Milk murder. I find this very interesting. The Milk murder could properly be called an assassination, and in America we do assassination with guns.
- All of the other murders were carried out either by stabbing, beating, or a combination of both. "Crimes of passion" I think they're called; close and intimate and personal.
- All 33 of the murders I've listed were committed by men.
Suffice it to say, I'm glad to be done with my research. I'm using this time spent carving to offer my love and blessings to all these persons who have died from hate and ignorance and fear. And may I be relieved of my own hate and ignorance and fear, because of course I have them too.