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Memorial Day

Or if you want to copy the statement, it is in html below:
Hon. Jerrold L. Nadler, of New York.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in recognition of the first annual Memorial Day for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community. This special day has been established to remember the many who have lost their lives due to killings, beatings and suicides that have resulted from the homophobic attitudes prevalent in our society and throughout history.

Every year, on the anniversary of the Warsaw ghetto uprising, the world commemorates Yom Hashoah or the Day of Remembrance for the Holocaust. Although several museum throughout the United States and Europe include exhibits recalled the homosexual experience during the Nazi era, most Yom Hashoah services fail to mention that part of Hitler's reign of terror was the systematic attempt to eliminate homosexuals from Germany. It is estimated that, under his plan, tens of thousands of homosexuals were arrested and thousands were confined to death camps along with others he deemed "undesirable". Today's solemn remembrance is part of an effort to remove the veil of silence about this tragic history of persecution and killings, underscore the seemingly endless chain of hate crimes, and provide education aimed at eradicating intolerance and violence against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons.

I salute Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, the Church of the Holy Apostles, the International Association of Lesbian and Gay Children of Holocaust Survivors, and the many other religious and community organizations that have joined in coalition to cosponsor today's solemn commemoration of the many lives lost as a result of a national reaction to homophobia. May their lives serve as reminders of the horrors of prejudicial acts of this kind. Let us honor their memory by committing ourselves to ending bigotry toward all people regardless of who they are or who they love.


REMARKS BY C. VIRGINIA FIELDS, MANHATTAN BOROUGH PRESIDENT May 6, 1999

I AM DELIGHTED TO BE A CO-SPONSOR AND PARTICIPANT IN THIS 1ST ANNUAL MEMORIAL DAY FOR THE GAY, LESBIAN, BISEXUAL AND TRANSGENDER COMMUNITY.

I AM THRILLED TO BE ABLE TO WORK WITH CONGREGATION BETH SIMCHAT TORAH (CBST), THE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF LESBIAN AND GAY CHILDREN OF HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS AND THE CHURCH OF THE HOLY APOSTLES AS WELL AS SO MANY DEDICATED CO-SPONSORS.

I WOULD ESPECIALLY LIKE TO THANK RICK LANDMAN, WHO HAS WORKED SO VERY HARD TO PUT THIS EVENT TOGETHER AND WHO REACHED OUT TO ME TO INVITE ME TO PARTICIPATE.

WE JOIN TOGETHER TODAY BECAUSE WE RECOGNIZE THAT VIOLENCE AGAINST THE LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL AND TRANSGENDER COMMUNITIES REMAINS A VERY SERIOUS PROBLEM. WE KNOW THAT IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT WE REMEMBER THE HISTORY BEHIND THESE ATTACKS AND ENSURE THAT WE NEVER ALLOW EVENTS LIKE THE HOLOCAUST TO HAPPEN AGAIN.

THE SYSTEMIC PERSECUTION AGAINST GAY MEN AND LESBIANS UNDER THE NAZI REGIME AND THE DESTRUCTION OF THE RENOWNED INSTITUTE OF SEXUAL SCIENCES LED BY DR. MAGNUS HIRSCHFELD IN 1933 SET BACK THE MOVEMENT FOR SEXUAL EQUALITY DECADES. ONLY WITH THE ORGANIZING OF THE MATTACHINE SOCIETY, THE DAUGHTERS OF BILITIS AND THE SUBSEQUENT STONEWALL REBELLION, THE 30TH ANNIVERSARY OF WHICH WE CELEBRATE THIS YEAR, DID THE LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL AND TRANSGENDERED COMMUNITY FIND THE CHANCE TO RE-ASSERT ITSELF AND ACHIEVE EQUALITY.

IT IS FITTING THAT THIS MEMORIAL DAY COMMEMORATES THE LOSS OF GAY, LESBIAN, BISEXUAL AND TRANSGENDERED LIVES THROUGH KILLINGS, BEATINGS AND SUICIDES THROUGHOUT HISTORY AND IMPORTANT THAT WE RECOGNIZE THAT VIOLENCE AGAINST PEOPLE AS A RESULT OF THEIR SEXUAL ORIENTATION, RACE, SEX, CREED, NATIONAL ORIGIN AND RELIGION CONTINUES TO PLAGUE SOCIETY TODAY.

AS WE WITNESS ACTS OF VIOLENCE SUCH AS THAT PERPETUATED AGAINST JAMES BYRD IN JASPER, TEXAS, AGAINST MATTHEW SHEPPARD IN WYOMING, AGAINST BILLY JACK GAITHER IN ALABAMA AND COUNTLESS OTHER VICTIMS. IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT WE ALL STAND TOGETHER TO COMBAT THIS RASH OF HATE CRIMES. IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT WHEN BLACK PEOPLE ARE ATTACKED, THAT GAY AND LESBIAN PEOPLE SPEAK UP, THAT WHEN GAY AND LESBIAN PEOPLE ARE ATTACKED THAT BLACK PEOPLE SPEAK OUT. WE MUST CONDEMN ALL OF THESE ACTS TOGETHER REGARDLESS OF WHAT COMMUNITY IS BEING VICTIMIZED, OR ELSE WE ALLOW SUCH VIOLENCE TO DIVIDE AND DIMINISH US.

I PLEDGE MYSELF TO CONTINUING TO WORK ON THE PASSAGE OF THE HATE CRIMES BILL IN ALBANY AND TO WORK WITH THE ANTI-VIOLENCE PROJECT AND OTHER CONCERNED ACTIVISTS AND ORGANIZATIONS, WITH ALL PEOPLE OF GOOD CONSCIENCE TO FIGHT BACK AGAINST HATRED, TO PROMOTE A SPIRIT OF UNITY AND TOLERANCE FOR ALL PEOPLE. MY MANHATTAN IS A BOROUGH IN WHICH WE ALL LEARN TO LIVE TOGETHER AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER.




The concept for a Memorial Day sprang from the spiritual and religious side of the GLBT community. Part of the program included a candle lighting ceremony, with 4 candles being lit. A candle was lit for the gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people who died due to their sexuality or gender.


The spiritual readings spoken during the candle lighting ceremony are as follows:

Spiritual Reading #1 by Rabbi Roderick Young (of Congregation Beth Simchat Torah)

We pause to remember those past generations of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, who lost their lives due to bigotry, hatred and ignorance. May the memories of those whom we lovingly recall tonight, inspire us to be ourselves and lead lives worth remembering.
Our thoughts turn to those who were murdered: those martyrs of our people whose graves are unmarked, and whose names are no longer known.
As we remember them, let us meditate on the meaning of love and loss, of life and death.


Reading #2 by Reverend Pat Baumgardner (of New York Metropolitan Community Church)
We promise in the words of Ruth: Even death shall not part us from them. Their names are established over our inheritance from them. The names of the dead shall not be cut off from among us.
In every generation people have murdered G-d's children because they were deemed to be different. Throughout history we have suffered in fear and silence as gays, lesbian, bisexuals and transgender people were beaten, murdered, or succumb to their own weakness. The time has come for us to change the future by remembering and memorializing these deaths with proper respect.


Reading #3 by Reverend Barry Signorelli (of the Church of the Holy Apostles)
Doesn't G-d plant in us some little bit of the divine outrage at seeing injustice and oppression, just as G-d did for the prophets of the Bible? Isn't our feeling of outrage a reflection of what G-d feels in seeing the suffering of G-d's own creatures? So let us take a moment in our collective silence to think of those who died because of their sexuality or gender and pray for the time when societies will appreciate all of G-d's children.



ONE OF AMERICA'S FIRST HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL FOR THE HOMOSEXUAL COMMUNITY



A Memorial was unveiled at the May 1999 Memorial Day Program. The Memorial is to remember the Nazi Persecution of the Homosexual Community during the Third Reich. There was a competition to choose the piece of art, and three excellent submissions were screened. The contestants were Bruce Eves, Peter Harvey and Noreen Dean Dresser.

The submission which was chosen to be the Memorial was by Noreen Dean Dresser. It consists of a piece of art which is (40" x 60") on a long rectangular canvas of museum quality. "Shows the transformation of the badge system of triangles to reveal the multi-meanings. Taking the yellow badge for Jews and the pink badge for Homosexuals, they are intertwined into an atmospheric skyscape. A bright pink line edges the triangle that pierces the blue night bottom half of the artwork. This triangular atmospheric sky pulls the space from the temporal to suggested eternal light. Meanwhile, the blue field below holds the specific temporal pine box as open grave. The piece used pipe with hair, railroad tie, earth from Jerusalem, Auschwitz and Sachenhausen, injection needle, coal and stones. A uniform scrap with number and pink badge wraps around the RR nail. A sky of darkness and rain is at the bottom of a grave opening."


This is the submission of Peter Harvey, entitled "Vita Brevis".
It is an oil painting (35" x 46") of pink tones with the rainbow. "It seems to me, the lover who cares for the dying friend is like those soldier-lovers shoulder to shoulder in the front line at Thermopylae, there is no hope or surrender, only death for one or both. Also those left behind to mourn must be ferocious in their grief as Achilles or Alexander at the bier of Hephaestion.
Although somber I hope that the heap of bodies is not gruesome, there is no need to do that, and with the rainbow flame, the colors of the Gay Liberation movement, I try to add a hopeful light to the scene. My version of John Flaxman's "Achilles Mourning over the Corpse of Patroclus" (1793) which I placed within the symbol of the pink triangle, is the connection between the past and the present I mentioned earlier. It is an article of Faith, but not in any conventional religious sense, faith in our own history, dignity and fortitude."


This is the submission by Bruce Eves. The artwork was comprised of nine individual (14" x 17") brown panels with a thin metal frames which can be arranged in a single row (17"x 126") or a grid of three rows of three panels (42" x 51") as shown in slide.
A piece I have been struggling with for some months now has finally resolved itself by combining the language and number systems. Its genesis was a paragraph found in an old issue of the New York Review of Books which reads:
In October 1934, the Wurzburg wine merchant Leopold Obermayer, a practicing Jew and a Swiss citizen, complained to the police that his mail was being opened. He was taken into custody and, when it was discovered that he was a homosexual, subjected to an endless series of interrogations and beatings and incarcerations. Despite his courageous protests and petitions, the Swiss government found it inexpedient to intervene on his behalf. Hew as given a secret trial, sentenced to life imprisonment, and died in Mauthausen in 1943.


This section will start to list names of people who were killed or committed suicide due to their sexuality. It is very sketchy at this point, but hope to have it done for next year's GLBT Memorial Day. It is in a random order as names come across my attention. Please feel free to email more names and information.
  • Allen Schindler, the gay sailor murdered in a men's room by his shipmates

  • Matthew Shepard - (age 21) 1998 Wyoming, was beaten to death.

  • Harvey Milk - San Francisco, 1979, was shot at City Hall.
  • Brandon Teena

  • Alan Turing - comitted suicide after being exposed as being gay. He was considered an early pioneer in the computer field.

  • Josh Belluardo (age 13)who was called a faggot by his murderer who also said, "gay people deserve to die" when he beat Josh to death (Canton Georgia 1998).

  • "Marsha P. Johnson" whose body in 1992 was found near the Christopher Street pier in NYC.

  • Donald Scott Fuller (a/k/a Lauryn Page)was stabbed to death in Austin Texas on January 8, 1999. He was 18 years old and often wore make-up and dressed as a woman. The police have not yet decided if this was a hate crime.

  • Billy Jack Gaither who was beaten to death and then set on fire on February 19, 1999 in Coosa County, Alabama.

  • Men killed in a bombing of a gay bar in London, May 1999.


There is another website which is just devoted to tracking the people who were killed due to their sexuality. It is at www.gender.org/remember. Or you can click here and then use the "BACK" key to return to this website.
Click to see the other website



WORLD-WIDE MEMORIALS AND MONUMENTS

THIS LIST IS IN FORMATION... If you know of more cities or have specific pictures are information about these monuments or memorials for the homosexual persecution during the Nazi Era, please email me. So far I believe that there are memorials or monuments in the following cities:


There are also several museums that contain exhibits that mention what happened to the homosexual community during the Naz Era. This list is also in formation:
  • United States Holocaust Memorial Museum - Washington D.C.
  • Museum of Jewish Heritage - A Living Tribute to the Holocaust - New York City
  • Schwules Museum - Germany
  • Sachenhausen
  • Museum of Tolerance - Los Angeles
  • Jewish Museum - Holland (has a gay exhibit)
  • Imperial War Museum - planned for 2000



    NEW DOCUMENTARY BY ROB EPSTEIN AND JEFFREY FRIEDMAN


    The Academy Award winning team of Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (The Celluloid Closet, Common Threads - Stories from the Quilt, The Times of Harvey Milk, have been working on PARAGRAPH 175, a new documentary about the experience of homosexuals during the Nazi era.
    The film is scheduled to be completed in early summer, for broadcast on Channel 4 in the UK and HBO/Cinemax in the US. Strategic planning for distribution and exhibition is currently underway and will likely begin with a series of international film festival screenings at the end of the year.
    PARAGRAPH 175, is being produced under the sponsorship of Reflective Image, Inc., classified by the Internal Revenue Service as a non-profit organization.


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    IF YOU WANT TO E-MAIL US... Please type MEMORIAL DAY in the "Subject Field". INFOTRUE@yahoo.com rick