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Remarks at the Rally to Commemorate the 2nd Anniversary of the Murder of Sakia Gunn

May 11, 2005, Military Park, Newark, NJ

By Louie Crew

My gaydar is broken, but I sense there are at least some of you who are 
straight who are here to join with us today.  Bless your hearts!   We are 
grateful that you would risk sharing our stigma.   We need your help.  May 
your numbers increase!

No one group can make it all alone.  We all need each other - straights and 
lbgts alike, blacks, whites, Asians and multiethnic persons alike; women and 

The Newark Pride Alliance is that, an alliance, and we want to promote 
healthy alliances everywhere.   Some of you who are straight are there when 
things are said that would never be said when people know lbgt persons are 
present.  You know what I mean.  And those things will continue to be said 
until you, and those like you, say, "For as much as you are talking about my 
friends, you are talking about me, and I won't allow it."

All of our public schools need to develop alliances between gays and 
straights.   If there is not such an alliance in your school, you don't even 
have to be lbtg to start one.

I am delighted that my bishop is here.  Thank you, Bishop Croneberger. 
Raise your hands all who are clergy:   I charge you to find more to join 

These crimes will continue until the leaders of all institutions in this 
community get serious about their job to serve everyone, not just

Violence does not just happen.    Bullies act in the most predictably when 
they think no one will be concerned, they pick on those already the most 

We are here today because those in power in this community are not doing 
their jobs, they are not fulfilling the obligations to make Newark  a safe 
community for all citizens, especially for unpopular citizen.

We are here today because of the brutal murder of Sakia Gunn two years ago 
at the main intersection of the city.

We are here today because the mayor has not fulfilled his commitment to 
assure safe spaces for lesbian and gay youth in this city.

We are here today because we do not have the lesbigay youth center that  so 
desperately need.

We are here today because too many of the clergy of this town, like Pontius 
Pilate when Jesus was brought before him, want to wash their hands of the 
matter.  New Jersey's LAD (Law Against Discrimination) exempts religious 
institutions, and too many congregations and their leaders use that 
exemption as a license to teach hate and shame.  This must stop.

We are here today because too few people in this community treat us their 
lesbian and gay neighbors as themselves.

Far too many Christians treat the bible as a weapon rather than as Jesus 
treated it, as a book of life.     "God so loved the world.."  Not just the 
heterosexual world, but the world, all of it, absolutely everyone of us. 
"God so loved the world..that whosoever believeth....,  whosoever believeth, 
whosoever believeth..."

Just what part of whosoever is so difficult to understand?

As slaves reminded the world with strong irony:  Not everybody talking about 
heaven is going there!

We are here today because racism limits the humanity of this place - this 
city, this state, this nation, this world.

We are here to proclaim that the lives of lesbians of color, the lives of 
gays, bisexuals, and transgendered persons of color are of equal value to 
the lives of white lesbians of color, the lives of white gays, white 
bisexual and white transgendered persons.

Today I Googled for the name "Sakia Gunn" and in the whole world wide web 
found only  5,010 hits.          I googled for the name "Matthew Shepherd" 
and found 128,000 hits, over 25 times the attention given on the internet to 
Sakia Gunn.

That, folks, is wrong.   We cannot reverse evil, we cannot end murder, if we 
don't know that it is happening.      On May 11, 2003, when Richard 
McCullough stabbed to death 15 year old Sakia Gunn, he acted just as 
egregiously, just as heinously, as did Russell Henderson (an Eagle Scout) 
and Aaron McKinney on October 12, 1998 when they crucified Matthew Shepherd. 
Matthew and Sakia are both in God's arms today, but we are not.  We are 
stuck here to remove the injustices that sent them both to God.

We are here today because our Newark's schools and institutions of higher 
learning have not done their job well.  It is one thing to receive students 
who bring the hatred of the street with them when they begin their 
education.  It is quite another for us to graduate them still holding the 
hatred of the streets, often with no evidence of ever encountering serious 
challenges to that hatred.

 What colleges and universities in Newark are safe for gay students?

 Which of these institutions has added to the curriculum the texts so vital 
for everyone to learn to live with  one another, not threatened by our 
differences, but delighting in our great diversity?

 What high schools in Newark  have added to the curriculum the texts vital 
to have lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered people to understand our 
many contributions to the rich heritage of science, literature and the arts? 
Rita Mae Brown once said, "If Michelangelo had been straight, he would have 
painted the Sistine Chapel off white and used a roller.

How many of their chancellors, deans, and department heads have worked with 
lesbian and gay colleagues and students to make a safe environment?

Why are the campus police and security officials often the ones least open 
the concerns of lesbians and gays?

If we act in alliance, in solidarity, we can end this violence.

                                                          -- 30 --

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