|Shannon Washington, photo by FAMUan newspaper|
Last night, there was a gathering of those in the LGBT community to mourn, and discuss how to prevent this from happening in the future. At a minimum, we need to educate law enforcement and others on the realities of abuse in same-sex relationships (which mirror the incidence in the heterosexual population) and the difficulties encountered by lesbians, and especially gay men and transgender people, when it comes to report such abuse. FAMU President Dr. James Ammons told students at the historically-black college that Shannon's murder should serve as a "teachable moment" about being careful about choosing your friends. My only concern with that statement is that in the African-American community, homophobia runs hot... and such advice might be taken as, "Stay away from 'the gay'!" I hope that is not what he meant.
Below is the statement I issued on behalf of PFLAG-Tallahassee:
“PFLAG-Tallahassee joins with many in our community in mourning the violent death of FAMU student-athlete Shannon Washington. In a world where one’s sexual or gender identity has been used by those filled with hatred to justify beating and killing LGBT people, a death like Shannon’s is even more shocking because it happened within the context of a same-sex relationship. Relationships should be based on love and respect. The home should be a place filled with that love and safety. PFLAG-Tallahassee offers a place for families and friends and LGBT people to gather in love, and move equality forward, one person and one family at a time. We continue in our commitment to help people find resources and support as they navigate their way toward healthy relationships.”