Today New York City's Jackson Heights neighborhood is also home to a large, mostly Latino LGBTQ community, which has transformed the area into a destination spot that rivals Chelsea and the Village. It's also become home to LGBTQ families seeking good schools, affordable rents, an easy commute, and a vibrant community in a kid-friendly — and queer-friendly — environment.

Jackson Heights wasn't always as safe or welcoming to LGBT people as it is today. Two hate-motivated murders eleven years apart galvanized the LGBT activists in the neighborhood and sparked actions that made it the welcoming community it is today.

Holiday Break

I wanted to post a quick announcement to let my listeners know that I've decided to take a break from posting new episodes during the holiday season, and will return will all-new episodes in the new year. I've had a great first year doing this podcast, and I'm grateful to all the listeners who subscribed and shared this podcast with friends and family. I'm looking forward to bigger and better things in the new year.

I'll be taking some time during the break to research and prepare new episodes. I'm currently researching what will probably become a series of episodes on the Red Summer of 1919, when more than 20 race riots broke out across the US, following the return of black soldiers from the battlefields of World War I. I'm also researching some gender-motivated hate crimes — that is, motivated by hatred of women — for episodes in the year to come.

Thanks to everyone for making the first year of this podcast succesful. I'll see you in the new year!

Episode 14: Lynching

Democrats in the House of Representatives have launched public impeachment hearings against President Donald Trump, following an inquiry into whistleblower testimony that Trump asked the President of Ukraine to investigate the family of a political opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, and withheld military aid to Ukraine for additional pressure.

Trump's reaction has been characteristically over the top, with the victimhood dial turned to 11. He raised a significant number of eyebrows in his tweet on October 22. He wrote: "So some day, if a Democrat becomes President and the Republicans win the House, even by a tiny margin, they can impeach the president, without due process or fairness or any legal rights. All Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here - a lynching. But we will WIN!"

On October 9, 1983, 10-year-old Christopher Vaughn was out hunting with his father when the two of them came across the body of an African-American male in a grassy ditch next to some power lines. The body was so severely damaged that authorities had trouble identifying it. Police asked the public for help with the identification.

On October 10, the 15-paragraph article at the bottom of the front page of the local newspaper described the victim as a 5-foot-7-inches and in his 20s. There was a small tattoo on his left hand, and he wore blue jeans and a beige sweater and was barefoot when found. He had a small goatee and "light mustache." Two of his bottom teeth were missing. Investigators combed through missing person reports before identifying the victim as Timothy Coggins the next day.

This week marked the 21st anniversary of Matthew Shepard's death. Since the details of Matthew Shepard's murder are widely known and readily available for anyone to look them up, I wanted to do something a little different from the usual narrative for this episode. Fortunately, I had the chance to sit down and talk with Veronica Kennedy, who was a classmate of Matthew's at their boarding school in Switzerland, to learn more about who Matthew was and what he meant to those who knew him well.

What follows is our discussion.

For the last 20 years of his life, Caughman lived on W. 36th Street in Manhattan, at the Barbour Hotel. The single room occupancy hotel now provides housing for people transitioning out of homelessness, but Caughman was not homeless. Svein Jorgensen, the chief executive of Praxis Housing Initiatives, which manages the Barbour, said that of the 100-odd residents, Caughman was one of the few who were actually permanent tenants and not part of the transient program.

Caughman took up can and bottle recycling to make extra money and keep busy. He used the money he made, in part, to help finance trips to Washington, DC, where he enjoyed attending congressional hearings. Caughman was searching for recyclables on the night of March 17, 2017, when he had a fatal encounter with 28-year-old James Jackson.

Arthur "J.R." Warren was a 26-year-old African American gay man, who resided in Grant Town, West Virginia. He lived with his parents and his 16-year-old sister Audra on Paw Paw Street, nestled between the main road and the railroad tracks that is home to most of Grant Town's black residents. His mother, Brenda, worked as a salesclerk at the Ames department store outside Fairmont. His father, Arthur, was a former coal miner who was unable to work due to a motorcycle accident that mangled his leg.

On July 3, 2000, he was murdered by two teenage white males, in what is believed to have been a hate crime.

Discrimination and denial of opportunity put many transgender people in harm's way by leaving them vulnerable to poverty and homelessness and causing some resort to sex work as a means of survival.

That was the situation facing 43-year-old Duanna Johnson, an African American transgender woman living in Memphis, Tennessee, in 2008. She struggled with poverty, unemployment, and crack addiction, as well as several arrests for prostitution.

On February 12, 2008, Johnson was arrested on a charge of prostitution, which was later dropped. Johnson was booked at the Shelby County Criminal Justice Center in Memphis. While Johnson was waiting to be fingerprinted, she was beaten by an officer, while another held her down. She was maced when she refused to comply with an officer's orders after the officer insulted her. 

October 27, 2018, began as a peaceful Saturday morning. It was the Sabbath many of the residents of Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood, and there was a slight drizzle as they made their way to synagogue. The tree-lined neighborhood about 10 minutes from downtown Pittsburgh is a hub of the city's Jewish community, and one of the largest predominantly Jewish neighborhoods in the country.

A profound sense of security reigned in Squirrel Hill, which is home to a dozen synagogues, including the Tree of Life Synagogue, where a killer waited outside.

In Western culture, we're taught at an early age that it matters when men hold hands. At a young age, boys may hold hands with other boys or even hug and kiss. But as they approach their pre-teens, they learn to believe that their human nature is unacceptable. It's so intolerable that some men even turn to violence to prove it. This enduring legacy of masculinity that tells us men shouldn't hold hands is unnecessary, sad, and dangerous.

Spencer Deehring and Tristan Perry, a gay couple in Austin, Texas, had a violent encounter with this brand of toxic masculinity on the night of January 19, 2019. They were holding hands as they frequented bars in downtown Austin in celebration of a friend's birthday.

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