Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"We Refuse to Live in Fear" - Boston LGBT Vigil for Jorge Mercado


WHEN 19-year-old Jorge Steven López Mercado was found burned, decapitated and dismembered on November 14 by the side of a road near Caguas, Puerto Rico, the loss was felt immediately by everyone who knew him. But his death also touched countless others who understand what it is like to live in fear of harassment and violence because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or intersex (LBGTQI).

Activists across the U.S. went into action to respond to this terrible crime and show that if we come together, we can fight bigotry and violence. Equality Across America made the call for vigils last weekend.

In a vigil organized by Join the Impact Massachusetts, more than 60 people came together in Boston on Sunday, November 22nd, to mourn the deaths of all victims of anti-LBGT violence. Some speakers called for continuing the pressure to win full equality under the federal law as the way to stop such violence.

Don Gorton of the Anti-Bullying Project and Join the Impact argued that while he felt the recent passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Act was significant, it's "hardly solace" in the wake of Mercado's murder. He said misogyny, homophobia and transphobia have common roots and that activists must fight for a change in society's attitudes.

Local representatives Sonia Chang-Diaz of Suffolk County and Carl Sciortino of Somerville and Medford spoke as well. Sciortino, who works closely with the Massachusetts Trangender Political Coalition, highlighted the lack of protection for transgender people under Massachusetts law.

Hector Tarrido-Picart of the International Socialist Organization spoke about Mercado's murder in the context of the general assault on working people Puerto Rico via massive layoffs and high unemployment. He also talked about the solidarity among LGBT activists, students and workers in Puerto-Rico in fighting for full equality.

Akunna Eneh contributed to this article.
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