Sprinkle wins IPPY Award

Stephen Sprinkle

Unfinished Lives: Reviving the Memories of LGBTQ Hate Crimes Victims by Rev. Stephen V. Sprinkle has been awarded the national silver medal from the Independent Book Awards for outstanding excellence in Gay/Lesbian Non-Fiction. The award is known as the IPPY.

Sprinkle teaches at Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth and was promoted last month to professor of practical theology and director of field education and supervised ministry. He has been at the school since 1994 and held the position of associate professor before his recent promotion. He was involved in the reaction to the Rainbow Lounge raid and is featured in the film Raid of the Rainbow Lounge. He is a frequent speaker at Cathedral of Hope.

In his book Unfinished Lives, Sprinkle tells the stories of 14 LGBTQ hate crimes murder victims throughout the U.S. More than 13,000 women, men and youth who have lost their lives to unreasoning hatred since 1980.

“I set out to change the conversation on hate crimes in this country, to put a human face on the outrage of homophobia and transphobia robbing us of so many so brutally,” Sprinkle said.

—  David Taffet

The Rev. Stephen Sprinkle to sign copies of book on LGBT hate crime victims at COH on Sunday

The Rev. Stephen Sprinkle

From PR guru Kris Martin:

What: The Interfaith Peace Chapel hosts a lecture by the Rev. Dr. Stephen Sprinkle on his new book, Unfinished Lives: Reviving the Memories of LGBTQ Hate Crimes Victims. The lecture will be followed by a DFW panel discussion and community dialogue on the violence and murder of Americans because of their sexual orientation or gender presentation.

Who: Stephen Sprinkle, author of Unfinished Lives, is changing the conversation on LGBTQ hate crimes and showing how bodies matter. Sprinkle is associate professor of practical theology at Brite Divinity School, and theologian in residence at Cathedral of Hope. There will be a lecture, book signing and panel discussion, with a reception to follow.

When: Sunday, March 27, 3:30-5:30 p.m.

Cost: Free of charge.

Where: Interfaith Peace Chapel , at the Cathedral of Hope United Church of Christ
5910 Cedar Springs Road, Dallas, TX  75235. http://www.interfaithpeacechapel.org

—  John Wright

NC man ‘turns straight,’ murders gay roommate with ax and shotgun, blames Mucinex

Michael Anderson: “Mucinex made me do it.”

STEPHEN V. SPRINKLE  |  Unfinished Lives

In one of the grisliest murders the local Catawba County Sheriff’s Department can recall, a teen roommate used the gay panic defense to justify his alleged ax-and-shotgun murder of an older gay man.

Michael Anderson, 19, of nearby King’s Mountain, is accused of murdering 38-year-old Stephen Starr at about 4:45 a.m. on Monday in the Hickory house they shared.

The Hickory Daily Record reports that Anderson, claiming he “turned straight” during alleged sexual advances by Starr, shot him with a shotgun and pistol, carved words into his body and wrote some others with a pen, before lodging an ax in the victim’s stomach.

“He shot his roommate and took an ax to him,” Catawba County Sheriff Coy Reid told the Daily Record. “It’s one of the nastiest crime scenes I’ve been to.”

—  admin

Atlanta Eagle’s $1 million settlement stands in sharp contrast to Rainbow Lounge outcome

Stephen V. Sprinkle  |  Unfinished Lives

The Atlanta City Council has voted 14-0 to award the Atlanta Eagle Bar $1 million in response to a federal lawsuit filed by a private attorney on behalf of 19 clients unjustly arrested in a botched police raid last September, according to a report by WTVM News 9 and the Associated Press.

The night of Sept. 10, 2009, four dozen police crashed the Underwear Night special event at the Atlanta Eagle, slamming patrons to the floor, using homophobic slurs, and arresting and detaining 62 people. Police targeted the gay bar on the pretext of illicit sex and drugs, allegations that were never proven.

The owner of the Eagle, Richard Ramey, went immediately on the offensive against the raid, saying to The Atlanta Journal Constitution on Sept. 12, 2009, ”Our problem is with the way our customers were treated.”

Nick Koperski, a bar patron present at the time of the raid, said in the same article: “I’m thinking, this is Stonewall. It’s like I stepped into the wrong decade.”

The Atlanta Police Department refused to cooperate with an investigation by the Atlanta Citizens Council. Charges brought against employees and patrons either failed to win convictions, collapsed for lack of evidence, or were otherwise dismissed, according to a report by EDGE.

Last March eight employees of the bar were found not guilty of trumped up charges by the Atlanta Police Department in a ruling handed down in Municipal Court.

Investigations into the raid found that the Atlanta Police Department did not have a warrant to raid the bar on the night in question. Mandatory revisions to police procedures will be carried out in response to the settlement.

The vindication of the Atlanta Eagle stands in sharp contrast to the outcome of the Fort Worth Police Department’s infamous raid on the Rainbow Lounge just months before the Atlanta debacle. Like the Georgia raid, all charges against patrons arrested at the popular Fort Worth gay bar have been dropped without comment from the city.

Unlike the Atlanta outcome, however, the Fort Worth Police Department has never issued an apology or admitted any wrongdoing in the illicit raid on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion.

This has been in spite of the public action disciplining officers of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) for their part in the raid, and a formal apology issued by the executive of the TABC. Factors contributing to the non-resolution of the Fort Worth police raid may include a less-than-robust defense of bar patrons by the Rainbow Lounge ownership at the time of the bust, and the less aggressive approach Fort Worth gay leaders employed to bring the city and the police department to account.

Justice for Atlanta, but how about for Fort Worth? We guess the mayor of Fort Worth has more control over the courts, the press, and the gay establishment in North Texas than the mayor of Atlanta. A good thing? You be the judge.

—  admin

Gay teen Asher Brown laid to rest in Houston

The Rev. Stephen Sprinkle
Cross-posted from Unfinished Lives

HOUSTON — Asher Brown’s uncle told a big gathering of mourners and family supporters on Saturday, Oct. 2 that school bullies “ripped him up and tore him down everyday.”

A crowd of hundreds blanketed a Houston park beside Moore Elementary School to express grief over the death by bullying of 13-year-old gay boy, Asher Brown.

Bright balloons floated in the air as the line of friends patiently waited to sign the memorial book and get a chance to speak to David and Amy Truong, Asher’s parents. His uncle, a Christian minister, MC’ed the memorial service.

”The bullies picked on my nephew because of the way he dressed, how he talked, and the fact he was small. He was a David among Goliaths,” Rev. Truong told the large crowd. ”But Asher’s heart was so big! His heart made him a giant.”

Asher’s school friends, the few who stood by him no matter what, were present and spoke. One of them said there was a “Bully Free Zone” sign at Hamilton Middle School where Asher faced torment every day for being different, for being gay, and for being vulnerable. His friend said that the sign meant nothing. Nothing was done by anyone to protect Asher, himself, or any other target of ridicule at Hamilton. The Truongs had repeatedly tried to get school officials to help their son, but the school basically ignored their calls and emails.

Initially, a spokesperson for the school district denied that any appeals had come to the school about Asher and the severe bullying he was facing there. Now the Cy-Fair Independent School District is acknowledging that “some communication” concerning Asher did indeed come from his parents.

The gay teen shot himself in his Dad’s closet on Sept. 23 after bullying became unendurable for him. When David Truong, Asher’s Dad, found Asher lying on the floor of his closet, he thought at first that his son had fallen asleep reading a book–and then he saw the blood.

Referring to Asher’s six friends who spoke at the outdoor memorial service, David Truong said, “These kids are the true heroes of this whole thing. They are speaking out, and we need to support them.”

Houston City Councilwoman Jolanda Jones told the crowd that she and Mayor Annise Parker are taking this senseless killing in Houston as a “call to action” for passage of a zero tolerance anti-bullying law that will be named “Asher’s Rule” as a fitting memorial to a good boy who just wanted to live his life–though bullies wouldn’t let him.

Many supporters from the LGBTQ community came to show their support for safe schools for all children, and to support Asher’s family.

Asher’s uncle declared that “gay and straight alike are perfect in God’s sight. God doesn’t make any mistakes.” What happened to his nephew was not going to be dismissed as simply a “gay issue.”

”This is a hate issue, and we are not going to rest until all children are safe from hate at school,” he said.

For more photos of the Asher Brown Memorial Service, click here.

Stephen V. Sprinkle is director of field education and supervised ministry, and sssociate professor of practical theology at Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth.

—  John Wright