Camden's Rough Neighborhoods' Violence Claims The Life Of A Gay Youth
|Wauynee Wallace * Family Photo|
CAMDEN, NJ -- In what Camden Police Chief Scott Thomson has labeled the worst outbreak of violence in decades due to an ongoing spike in gang and drug-turf battles, Camden has recorded 40 homicides, a dozen more than at this time in 2011. But one victim's death is not being linked to that spike in violence, according to Camden detectives who still have no motive in the killing of openly gay 17 year old Wauynee Wallace's last month.
Wallace's mother, Ebony, the single mother of another adult son and an 8-year-old daughter, is not satisfied with the police investigation and along with her son's friends is frustrated. Wallace, who lives Camden's Whitman Park neighborhood, is convinced that someone knows who shot her son in the back of the head as he walking with two friends who said they heard the shot, turned around, and saw him falling face down, with his eyes closing. They fled without seeing the shooter according to police reports of the incident.
On Chase Street, friends have put up a memorial to Wauynee Wallace at an abandoned house. Like other tributes that pop up hours after a death, the words In lovin Memory are spray-painted before his name on a white sheet. Teddy bears, cards, and empty liquor bottles line the base.This memorial also includes a rainbow flag.Friends described Wauynee Wallace as a selfless, outgoing, and charismatic gay teenager, comfortable with his sexuality despite living in a city where gay youth said they were verbally harassed constantly and warned to stay off certain blocks.People "make us feel like we're literally a dog instead of a human," said Heaven Filmore, 18, a close friend who lived near Wallace and who was with him the night he died. "Words definitely hurt, if you got to hear it every day, every hour on the hour."Wallace was trendy, friends said. He would wear an orange athletic T-shirt and orange boots and shorts. He dyed the top of his hair blond, red, and other colors. He named his hairstyles - like the "peanut-butter-and-jelly." He wore wigs and makeup, his mother said.He was known to snap his fingers and say, "I'm to the gauuds," which meant he was looking good that day, friends said.He designed his own clothes and promised to design a cousin's wedding gown for a fall ceremony, now postponed since his death."There will never be another like him. Never. . . . It's impossible," said Ziare Nock, 18, a close friend. ~ The Philadelphia Inquirer
Jason Laughlin, a spokesman with the Camden County New Jersey Prosecutor's Office said that without a motive or witness, Camden Police investigators have no case. So far this year, law enforcement has solved fewer of the city's homicides - 44 percent - than in previous years, when the rate has typically been around 65 percent. Laughlin noted that the city was just hit with a large batch of homicides all at once, and authorities generally have trouble getting witnesses to come forward in the tougher crime ridden areas.
For Ebony Wallace- she hasn't left her house much since her son was killed- hopes soon to leave the city where she grew up - where she was raised in a strict two-parent household that required her to get A's and B's, and, despite a teen pregnancy, she graduated on time in 1992 from Woodrow Wilson High School.
She told the Philadelphia Inquirer that she picked up her son's ashes last Thursday and plans on storing them until she graduates from Camden County College, where she's just two courses short of associate degrees in accounting and business administration. Then she plans to move on.
"I understand the hate that breeds in my 'hood," she said. "I understand why they kill, why they sell drugs, why they murder. I understand where we come from, but why my kid? My baby was a good kid."
Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays Attacks California Anti-Reparative Therapy Bill's Author In 'Open' Letter
|Senator Ted Lieu, D-Torrance|
REEDVILLE, VA -- Regina Griggs, the Executive Director of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gay, (PFOX) sent a scathing letter to California State Senator Ted Lieu, (D) who is the principal sponsor of legislation, SB 1172, that would ban so-called “ex-gay” therapy for minors. In her letter, Griggs said;
"[...]Your bill will turn California into a nanny state by usurping the civil rights of parents who support their child's right to receive therapy for unwanted same-sex attractions, especially when that child has been sexually molested. This smacks of fascism and ex-gay bashing."
When he introduced the measure Lieu said, “The entire medical community is opposed to these phony therapies. Everyone agrees that this quackery needs to stop.”
Lieu, whose district includes portions of Long Beach, Los Angeles and San Pedro, introduced his bill to protect LGBT youth from the practice because “being lesbian or gay or bisexual is not a disease or mental disorder for the same reason that being a heterosexual is not a disease or a mental disorder. And the medical community is unanimous in stating that homosexuality is not a medical condition.”
Known as reorientation, reparative, conversion and ex-gay therapy, the practice attempts to change a subject’s sexual orientation.
After the declassification of homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1973, the mainstream practice of “ex-gay” therapy began to fade. According to the APA, therapists “became increasingly concerned that aversive therapies designed as SOCE for homosexuality were inappropriate, unethical, and inhumane” and study after study showed that enduring change was uncommon.
In 2007, an APA task force report on the issue observes,
“The visibility of SOCE has increased in the last decade. … From our survey of recent publications and research, most SOCE currently seem directed to those holding conservative religious and political beliefs, and recent research on SOCE includes almost exclusively individuals who have strong religious beliefs.”
In her letter, the PFOX head asserted:
"Are you aware that the American Psychological Association admitted at its August 2001 conference that no body of evidence existed to prove that sexual reorientation therapies are harmful?
In 2009, the APA stated that research on harm from sexual orientation change efforts is limited, and some of the research that exists suffers from methodological limitations that make broad and definitive conclusions difficult. [Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation, p. 67 (APA, 2009)]"
Griggs also angrily tells the senator;
"You endanger youth by denying their right to receive therapeutic help, promoting homosexual behavior to sexually confused youth, and conveniently ignoring the facts about the psychological and physical health risks of sodomy.
By your comments, it appears you lack credible knowledge about changeable sexual preference and that you have obtained biased information without consulting the ex-gay community."
Lieu's legislation is now pending approval from the assembly and Gov. Jerry Brown. If signed into law, the bill would make California the first state in the U.S. with a law cracking down on a therapy denounced by lawmakers, medical professionals, mental health practitioners and former patients as fraudulent and dangerous.
Griggs letter also refers to the Centers For Disease report issued in 2011 which noted the uptick in new infection rates attributed to men who have sex with men. Griggs highlighted the new infections rates in the those aged 13 to 24 youth, commenting,
"Talk about harm to children! Why do you want to prevent youth from receiving counseling for unwanted same-sex attractions when those attractions can kill them?"
The PFOX head ends her letter with,"Gay activists don't want this report made public, how about you?" The CDC report did receive widespread media coverage by mainstream and independent news outlets upon its release.
Senator Lieu's office offered no comment on the letter when contacted by LGBTQNation.
Another Chik-Fil-A Store Vandalised
FREDERICK, MD -- The Chick-fil-A restaurant located on on Urbana Pike in Frederick, Maryland was vandalised in the early morning hours Sunday according to Deputy-Corporal Gregory Santangelo, a spokesperson for the Frederick County Maryland Sheriff's office.
Santangelo said the items glued to the store's windows included marriage equality stickers and an image with the American and gay pride flags combined. There were also several homemade signs, he said, noting that physical evidence and video surveillance of a suspect were collected at the scene.
At least two other Chick-fil-A restaurants across the country have been vandalised after the company's president, Dan Cathy, told the Baptist Press he did not support gay marriage. The comments caused an uproar that included a day of support in which thousands of customers clogged drive-throughs and dining rooms at restaurants across the country and held same-sex kiss-in day at some locations.
The store opened Monday as usual since all Chik-fil-A franchises are always closed on Sundays according to company policies.
Descriptions of some of the stickers included the logo of the LGBTQ equality rights advocacy group, the Human Rights campaign, a yellow "equal" sign on a dark blue squared background.
“Under no circumstances does HRC condone vandalism or the destruction of property,” HRC spokesperson Dan Rafter said adding;
“While this is certainly an issue that has stirred strong emotions on both sides, the only way we can effect real progress is by having a civil dialogue and continuing to educate consumers about the groups that Chick-fil-A donates to; and how those groups routinely demonize LGBT people.
We change opinion by sharing our personal stories and humanizing this type of discrimination — not by vandalizing property in the middle of the night.”
Josh Levin, campaign manager for Marylanders for Marriage Equality, issued a statement that reads in part: "We abhor any vandalism or disrespect in this campaign.... We encourage our supporters to have conversations with people they know who may be undecided on the issue."
North Carolina College Dumps Chick-Fil-A
DAVIDSON, NC -- A small private liberal arts college in Davidson, North Carolina has elected to quit serving Chick-fil-A food at school sponsored late-night food-and-music events called After Midnight, which are held on one Saturday each month. The restaurant chain does not have an on-campus concession.
In an interview with local online news outlet DavidsonNews.net, student organiser Ben Wiley said that an online petition he started had garnered signatures, as of Monday, from 423 people – current students, alumni, professors and other employees signing, demanding the school to drop Chick-fil-A from the lineup. “This is is about saying we are trying to lower the demand for Chick-fil-A so that the Union Board no longer purchases it for us,” he said.
“We’re not petitioning because of the personal beliefs of the company officials. They can think what they want,” he said. But Wiley noted that students should be concerned about the company’s spending on anti-gay causes – estimated at $5 million over the past decade or so. “We’re contributing to it,” Mr. Wiley said.
In a statement to the Davidson community, Union Board President Adriana Nassar and Vice President Cameron Joe, said:
"We reached out to the Union Board members to begin initial conversations but because the board operates on consensus decision-making, a final decision is being put off until we can have face to face conversations and gather more student input.
Until a final decision is made, alternative options will be served at After Midnight and other Union Board events. The Davidson College Union Board is firmly committed to building an inclusive community that serves each member of our student body."
Davidson students are on summer break right now and the first 'After Midnight' is more than a month away. It’s not clear whether the petition will have any effect until the board meets when the school is back in session.