LGBTQ advocates are calling for the media's attention to the heartbreaking murders of four black lesbians in December 2017. Although none of the killings were connected to each together, LGBTQ organizations say there is a brutal and disturbing pattern of violence taking place against black lesbians in the United States.
According to HuffPost, the four women who killed were Kaladaa Crowell (along with her daughter, according to authorities) from West Palm Beach, Florida, and Kerrice Lewis from Washington, D.C. Additionally, lesbian couple Shanta Myers and Brandi Mells and their children were murdered in upstate New York that same week.
We have been seeing an increase in violence against members of the LGBTQ community since the end of the [presidential] election cycle.
Tillery added, "Anti-LGBTQ, immigrant and people of color rhetoric was really being kicked up at that time, and it certainly has continued with [Donald Trump's] administration." Regardless of the different circumstances behind the killings, the murders of the four women have left the American LGBTQ community terrified and heartbroken, according to Tillery.
"We’ve seen people across the country who now feel like they’ve been given some permission to act on their bigotry in ways that we haven’t seen in the past. I think that there are many more instances of violence because of that. People in the LGBTQ community and communities of color are experiencing a lot more fear and trauma because of that," she told The Huffington Post.
In the case of Kaladaa Crowell, who worked as a behavioral health case worker, authorities say that she and her daughter were shot on Dec. 28 in West Palm Beach, Florida. She was described in heartwarming words by her partner, Robin Denson, who told The Palm Beach Post, "Kaladaa was the sweetest person. She’d give the shirt off her back to help anybody … she was my girlfriend and that was our home."
Loved ones of Kerrice Lewis also shared emotional words for the 23-year-old who was viciously murdered on Dec. 28, according to the police. Lewis' grandfather, William Sharp, spoke with Fox 5 DC and described Lewis as a "free spirit" who was "full of life" and "would light up a room, just talking, and laughing." Speaking of her brutal death, Sharp said, "Anytime you lose a family member, especially like this, it just rips your heart out."
In Troy, New York, the reported killings of lesbian couple Shanta Myers and Brandi Mells and their two young ones on Dec. 28 left the LGBTQ community rattled. Authorities reported that the family of four had been dead for five days before they were found. Troy police chief James Tedesco said, "Only a person of savagery would do something like this. Nobody that’s been involved in this case is going to forget this."
On social media networks, observers have criticized the perceived silence over the deaths of these black women as one Twitter user said, "Black lesbians are dying for being black lesbians and y’all can’t even say the word lesbian in light of their death." Another Twitter user noted, "How many black lesbians have to die within the first few weeks of 2018 for anyone to care?"
While writing about the December killings on Jan. 1, LGBTQ author Julia Diana Robertson offered her take on just why there was little to no outcry surrounding these shocking murders. "When lesbians are murdered the distinct media bias keeps the general population in the dark," Robertson wrote. "This bias is multiplied where 'butch' lesbians are concerned, and compounded if you’re a woman of color. Lesbian relationships are typically downplayed, sexuality is often omitted, and there’s a resulting lack of focus (with both investigations and media) on potential hate crimes — even where the murder is exceptionally horrific (as in this case)."
Perhaps it would help to condense the running sentiment from LGBTQ members and allies on these murders into a social demand. It's a simple and fundamental one: Say these women's names.