This article is the result of an 8-month investigation by News21 in conjunction with our reporting partner, ProPublica’s Documenting Hate Project. The story delves into the LGBTQ community’s distrust in law enforcement and the barriers that exist to having an LGBTQ bias crime recorded by law enforcement and later prosecuted. Personal accounts from victims of alleged hate crimes and anti-LGBTQ harassment are featured.
This article was written with News21 fellows Renata Cló and Emma Keith. Transgender victims’ cases are frequently complicated by the circumstances surrounding their deaths, which makes it difficult to classify their homicides as hate crimes. The victims are often killed by a romantic partner, sex work client or stranger.
While not a classified hate crime, the Upstairs Lounge Fire was the largest massacre of LGBTQ individuals pre-Pulse. Thirty-two people died in the fire 45 years ago after an arsonist, believed to be a disgruntled patron of the club, set fire to the stairs. A group of 200 New Orleans residents marched recently so people would remember its importance. Marchers reflected on the blatant LGBTQ discrimination that influenced the city’s response to the blaze.