by Leah Waldron
When it comes to America’s LGBT community, trans women and gay men are far more likely to be victims of violent hate crimes than lesbians. Or so we thought. Since June 22, approximately six weeks ago, six lesbians have been brutally attacked (and a seventh, killed) in hate crimes in Texas, Tennessee, Nebraska, Kentucky and Missouri. Lesbian-targeted hate crime is not a new phenomenon, but the growing number of cases may suggest an epidemic, or, at the very least, a sobering indication the rising levels of LGBT intolerance in America.
The crime wave began with the murder of Mollie Olgin, a 19-year-old lesbian who was shot in a south Texas park along with her girlfriend of five months, 18-year-old Mary “Kristene” Chapa, who narrowly survived after several brain surgeries. Chapa has been released from the hospital and is recovering, but the double-shooter is still at large.
Also in Texas this summer, Gina Adams was bar-hopping with friends when a male bartender threw her to the ground and began punching her in the face. Adams had never met the bartender before the incident, but reported that gay slurs were shouted before the attack. Adams told the press that the attack may have been motivated by the bartender realizing that she was a woman.
In a Memphis, Tennessee restaurant, Jackie Lloyd was repeatedly punched by a man who accused her of hitting on his girlfriend. Lloyd had been talking to an old female friend (from her high school days) when the man, visibly angry, began hitting her and screaming anti-gay slurs.
In Omaha, Nebraska, 33-year-old Charlie Rogers was tied up in her home while three masked men carved gay slurs into her flesh, and then set her home on fire. Rogers escaped by crawling to a neighbor’s home.
In Louisville, Kentucky, an unidentified 16-year-old lesbian had her jaw broken and lost several teeth after three men and one women jumped her (and two younger boys) in the street. One of the boys called the girl’s mother before the attack, telling her that a bunch of “grown-ups” were following them and yelling at them. When the girl’s mother arrived, EMTs were already on the scene.
And this week, a Missouri lesbian, Jeana Terry, was pulled out of her home and physically attacked by neighborhood children, all under the age of 16. Terry reported that she and her partner had been harassed by the children—all siblings—for months, but when Terry approached the parents about the problem, the issue was never resolved.
It is interesting to note that all six attacks happened in areas of the country where LGBT rights have been at the forefront of state or city politics. Missouri and Tennessee are home to the nation’s only “Don’t Say Gay” bills, which, if passed, would prohibit public school teachers from talking about homosexuality in the classroom. In Omaha, Nebraska this summer, the city was embroiled in controversy after the city council added LGBT to the city’s discrimination ordinance. This spring, in Kentucky, two men and two women were arrested under the Matthew Shepard Federal Hate Crime Law for kidnapping and attacking a gay man in a federal park. The arrest marked the first time the law had been used for a federal hate crime. June 22, the date Molly Olgin was killed, was the start of Texas’ Pride festivities.
Regardless of the motive, these brutal attacks demonstrate that a lesbian is no “safer” than a gay man or a trans individual, especially if she lives in an intolerant part of the country. But unlike gay men, who tend to be attacked by members of the same sex, lesbians are being attacked by the opposite sex—and often by more than one man. In all six lesbian attacks, at least one of the perpetrators was male, and in half of the cases, the ratio was three men (or more) to one.
As a lesbian who lives in the Midwest, it’s pretty scary out there. But it’s even more unsettling that the media has reported these cases as isolated events.
How many lesbians have to be brutally attacked (and killed) before the media calls it a crime wave?
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