Saturday, September 10, 2011

PFLAG Statement on Shannon Washington Murder

Shannon Washington, photo by FAMUan newspaper
I will be posting more of my spiritual/cultural/theological brain firings over this weekend.  But for now, I want to acknowledge the tragic death of a 20 year-old FAMU women's basketball player... a case of domestic violence within the LGBT community.   As noted, I was out-of-town during the Labor Day weekend when Shannon Washington and her partner Starquineshia Palmer were apparently engaged in a rapidly escalating battle between each other.  Palmer stabbed Washington in the neck and back, and according to reports, surrendered to police saying, "I did it.  I killed her."

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.”


phoebe McFarlin said...

Well said.

Sandra Washington said...

Hello there. My name is Sandra Washington and I am the aunt of Shannon Washington who was murdered over a month ago. I wanted to personally thank you for the wonderful words that you said in behalf of my niece Shannon. You are right that these kinds of issues need to be addressed and brought to the light to help others who are dealing with these kinds of problems in their relationships. After all of this happened, we subsequently found out that she was being abused by her girlfriend. It's just so sad that things turned out this way for my niece and I miss her terribly EVERY DAY!! RIP Shannon and I LOVE YOU!!

SCG said...

Sandra, you're welcome and my deepest sympathy to you and the rest of your family on the loss of Shannon. It was a horrible tragedy. May you know peace in your heart. And may light perpetual shine upon Shannon.