A Crisis Of Hate: The Highest LGBTQ Murder Rate Reported In History

A total of 52 reported anti-LGBTQ homicides happened in 2017.

Two women embracing Photo by istock

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) is an organization that works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and HIV-affected communities. Since 1996, the NCAVP has released national research reports on the hate violence that is experienced in our communities. They do this work to better understand the needs of our society to comprehend the level at which anti-LGBTQ hate is existing and why.

Since the release of the Crisis of Hate report in August of 2017, the number of reported homicides has continued to increase, reaching a total of 52 reported anti-LGBTQ homicides in all of 2017. That is the highest number recorded since 1996 with an 86% increase from 2016 — as per their 2017 report released today.

While the report doesn’t name a specific data point for the reason of this dramatic increase, they do recognize the impact civil rights violations and legislators have on our communities. As Trump’s administration continues to rollback civil rights protections on all levels — marginalized communities are seeing the direct impact not even a year after his inauguration. Every piece of legislation that hacks at civil liberties directly effects the LGBTQ community because we all have different intersecting identities. This is the time for our movement to recognize that and grow even more radical in nature of how we seek to resist against the powers that be.

Matthew Murrey was found was found stabbed to death in his Hyattsville apartment on May 30th, 2017. He was last seen out with friends at a local gay bar and had talked with friends about attending D.C.’s Black Pride celebration which occurred over that Memorial Day weekend. He never made it.

“While much of this violence is not new, but rather amplified, this past year has sparked a national conversation about the escalation of hate violence against so many marginalized communities. NCAVP hopes that sharing this information now will encourage people to reject anti-LGBTQ bias whenever it occurs, and to resist any hateful rhetoric or policies put forward by this administration or by legislators,” the introduction reads.

While transgender women of color are most impacted by this horrific violence — cisgender gay, queer and bisexual men have experienced an extreme uptick in hate based violence. Where in 2016 there were 4 reports of homicide in this demographic, in 2017 there were 20 hate-based murders of cisgender gay men.

Savyon Zabar was one of those men, found strangled in his Upper West Side New York apartment on January 4th, 2017. Fernando Munizaga, a former employee of Zabar’s told the media: “He was a huge figure in the gay community. He gave us a voice. He gave us opportunity. He gave a platform to the gay Latin community.”

To me, this is reminiscent of Matthew Shepard and times when cisgender straight men have wielded their toxic masculinity to turn hateful views into physical violence. 45% of the murders of cisgender queer men were the cause of hook-up violence–they were targeted on dating apps and then murdered because of their identity.

Of the total 52 hate-based murders of LGBTQ this year, 27 were transgender and gender non-conforming people, compared to 19 reports for 2016. And it seems that the intersections of racism and anti-LGBTQ views have only continued to fester with 71% of the victims being people of color. (31 (60%) of the victims were Black, 4 (8%) were Latinx, 2 (4%) were Asian, and 1 (2%) was Native. Additionally, 12 (23%) of the victims were white and 2 victims’ racial and ethnic identity is unknown to NCAVP at this time.)

Jaquarrius Holland was killed in Monroe, Louisiana on February 19th, 2017, but her homicide came to light weeks later because of misgendering from the local police. Friends and community members lovingly shared their memories of Jaquarrius online through the hashtag #PrettyBrown, which she used to refer to herself.

As the conversation on gun violence grows at a national level — it seems we need to be including it in inter-community conversations as well. Guns were used in 59% of the total number of homicides thus far in 2017, including three people who were shot and killed by police.

Sean Ryan Hake, a 23 year-old transgender man, was fatally shot by police responding to a call about a domestic incident at Hake’s home on January 6th, 2017. A friend remembered Sean as a caring person, saying: “He had a genuinely good heart and he had struggled with his problems. But he always made sure that he was there for other people.”

These stories are important to read. We need to bear witness to the atrocities happening in our community. How they’re happening, why they’re happening, and who they’re happening to.

Rest in peace and power. We will not forget you or the others who were not been included in this report because they were misgendered, mis-identified, undocumented, or the incidents weren’t labeled hate crimes when they were.

Mesha Caldwell, Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow, Sean Ryan Hake, Savyon Zabar, Bill Denham, Dontae Lampkins, JoJo Striker, Jaquarrius Holland, Keke Collier, Chyna Gibson, Glenser Soliman, Ciara McElveen, Alphonza Watson, Andrew Nesbitt, An Vinh Nguyen, Kenne McFadden, Bruce Garnett, Chay Reed, Mx. Bostick, Earl English, Imer Alvarado, Sherrell Faulkner, Kevin Wirth, David Swartley, Matthew Murrey, Josie Berrios, Neil Rodney Smith, Ava Le’Ray Barrin, Michael “Chris” Jones, Ebony Morgan, Robert Lee Covington, Rodriguez Montez Burks, TeeTee Dangerfield, John Jolly, Jaylow MC, Juan Javier Cruz, Gwynevere River Song, Kiwi Herring, Ally Lee Steinfeld, Anthony Torres (Bubbles), Derricka Banner, Scout Schultz, Elizabeth Stephanie Montez, Candace Towns, Giovanni Melton, Sydney Loofe, Brooklyn BreYanna Stevenson, Brandi Seals, Shanta Myers, Brandi Mells, Kerrice Lewis, Kaladaa Crowell.