Out Impact Magazine Features Hate Crimes Work of Unfinished Lives Project
This guest post is from Unfinished Lives which is a place of public discourse which remembers and honors LGBT hate crime victims.
Out Impact, the Gay Online Magazine, has a feature news article on the work of the Unfinished Lives Project and its Director, Dr. Stephen V. Sprinkle, in its latest issue. Chrishelle Griffin, a graduate of Spelman College, carried out the interview with Dr. Sprinkle for Out Impact.
In a portion of the Q & A, Griffin asked Dr. Sprinkle what he believes are the most glaring misconceptions about hate crimes against LGBTQ people. “Let me share two with you,” Sprinkle responded.. ”The first is that LGBTQ hate crimes victims were engaging in ‘risky’ behaviors that contributed to their deaths. This is nothing but an internalized version of the old ‘gay panic defense’ that says we are somehow responsible for the victimization we suffer. I never met a gay hate crimes survivor who had a death wish,” Sprinkle said. ”These women and men were simply trying to live what is normal for them. They were looking for love, seeking companionship, or whatever. Straight people do the same sorts of things all the time. We, however, live in a culture that makes our lives vulnerable—all of our lives, for every one of us. That is the message most of us never seem to get. As long as the majority culture permits some of us to be killed and maimed, every one of us is at risk.”
Sprinkle then shared a further misconception that he wishes would be dispelled from the American mind: “Second,” Sprinkle went on to say, “the murders of LGBTQ people are not ‘tragedies.’ There is nothing tragic about murder. It is an outrage, a capital crime, an attack on the whole human race and the persons of the victims who are targeted, but not a ‘tragedy.’ People don’t get worked up over tragedies. They experience a catharsis from a tragedy, and then move on. Hate crime murder is a human horror perpetrated against some members of a group to terrorize the whole group. We must find our anger about this, so that we will act to stop these senseless hate crimes.”
In response to Out Impact’s question, “Who pushes you to be better?” Sprinkle said, “Two groups of people motivate me to be better. The first group is made up of my students. I teach theology at Brite Divinity School, and the wonderful interaction I have with students continually pushes me to be better. The second group of people is made up of the family, friends, and lovers of the LGBTQ hate crimes victims I have met around the nation. Mothers, sisters, dads, children, co-workers, neighbors, broken hearted lovers: many of them have become “accidental activists,” shoved by circumstance into the glaring light of public advocacy because of the unspeakable horror they endured when hate took away someone dear to them. These are great Americans, and the notion of their courage keeps me going.”
For the complete interview and a series of photographs illustrating the work of the project, go to: http://www.outimpact.com/activism/gay-rights/hate-crimes/steve-sprinkle-tackling-hate-crimes-lgbtq-community.
Stephen V. Sprinkle is Director of Field Education and Supervised Ministry, and Associate Professor of Practical Theology at Brite Divinity School, Fort Worth, Texas, a post he has held since 1994. An ordained Baptist minister, he is the first open and out Gay scholar in the history of the Divinity School, and the first open and out LGBT person to be tenured there.