On March 6th, in Galveston, Texas, a city outside of Houston, a young African-American lesbian couple was killed and dumped near a dumpster. Britney Cosby and Crystal Jackson (pictured left) were 24 years old and out to their families, yet the main suspect for this crime is Cosby’s father.
These two women shared the same age and race as myself, and lived in the same state I do.
When the local news initially reported it, they referred to the couple only as “friends.” This caused many people to use social media to contact the news station, justifiably upset that they were unprofessional and bigoted by excluding the fact that the women were lesbian. After all, that’s likely why these women were killed in the first place—they were murdered because they were lesbian.
Murders like Britney and Crystal’s aren’t rare, and they aren’t new. Last year, when a transwoman was killed in Texas, there was no story or report about her or her death. The only reason I know of this woman’s death is due to a Transgender Day of Remembrance service I attended, where her friend asked that she may be remembered. Recently, there have been many news stories out of New York City of gay men and transwomen being killed and murdered. What is most interesting to me about all these stories is the same thing that was most interesting about Trayvon Martin’s story—for once, the news actually decided to report it.
The unfortunate truth, however, is that I am no more surprised about this father’s “honor killing” than I am about the death of Trayvon—because it’s nothing out of the ordinary for our society. Yet, what has bothered me the most about these murders is how the Black community refuses to rally around issues of justice for these two women and LGBTQ issues in general.
Where are the people of color who were outraged on Trayvon’s behalf?
Although upset, I am not surprised by the greater LGBTQ community’s response to these tragic murders—it has always prioritized the needs of white LGBTQ folk. It seems the broader Black & queer community doesn’t care what happens to its fellow LGBTQIA African-Americans. Whoever killed Brittany Crosby and Crystal Jackson in Galveston, Texas, is no different, in my opinion, than George Zimmerman.
When will these communities see that silence in regards to LGBTQ oppression is the same silence that allowed the KKK to perpetuate the lynching tree? The lack of Black communities seeing LGBTQ people as human beings has made them just as dangerous to queer folk as any racist is to a person of color.
There are times when I cannot take pride in the beginnings of the Civil Rights Movement. I cannot say “Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, I’m free at last,” knowing that we as a people seem to take no issue whatsoever with deaths, rapes, suicides, and lack of civil rights the LGBTQ community face. As if queerness identity taints Black identity—neither of which is a choice.
As a Christian, my heart aches for the Church and faith communities.
How many more people must die or suffer mental illness before the Church sees LGBTQIA people as human beings created in the image of God? And yes, that means God would have to be just as queer as heterosexual people are straight since we are all made in God’s image. The Church’s cry of “Wait!” is no different than the one Martin Luther King, Jr. was writing about in his Letter from Birmingham Jail—if we are being honest with ourselves, the audience is still the same too.
Martin Luther King was writing to pastors who were afraid to stand up and do the right thing for people of color, because they feared for their physical safety, in addition to possibly losing their job, ordination, and reputation. Pastors of today who refuse to marry LGBTQ folk, who fear to lose their ordination for speaking out, who worry about their reputation, and who cry, “Wait!” are no different than the pastors Martin Luther King was writing to while in Birmingham Jail. The Church, in general, is no different than those pastors.
Brittany and Crystal’s deaths hit home for me in so many ways. So I end with a quote from Dr. King’s letter:
I must honestly reiterate that I have been disappointed with the church. I do not say this as one of those negative critics who can always find something wrong with the church. I say this as a [follower] of the Gospel, who loves the church; who was nurtured in its bosom; who has been sustained by its spiritual blessings, and who will remain true to it as long as the cord of life shall lengthen.
Image via Elixher