Homo If Only He Had Been in a Boy Band
posted by October 18 at 10:19 AMon
This just ain’t right.
Tyron Garner, the African American plaintiff in Lawrence v. Texas, the case that overturned sodomy laws in the United States (and prompted the Supreme Court to reverse Bowers v. Hardwick, an earlier, rabidly anti-gay decision), died on September 11, 2006. He still hasn’t been buried, as his family can’t afford to pay for burial. If money isn’t raised immediately, Garner’s body will be chucked into an unmarked pauper’s grave by officials in Harris County Texas. Keith Boykin reports…
Ironically, it was a police officer in Harris County who barged into a private apartment and arrested Garner for having consensual sex with a male partner. And it was the state of Texas that spent an enormous amount of time and money in pursuing the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Thus, the state that sought to control his body while he was living may end up controlling it in his death.
So what’s the gay rights movement doing about this? Uh, not much.
Lambda Legal Defense Fund had previously announced a fund to be set up for Garner’s family to cover the cost of the funeral and burial, but apparently the funds have still not been raised. I don’t know the circumstances behind the fund, but Lambda is the second largest LGBT organization in the country and boasts an annual budget of $10.5 million….
Tyron Garner was a hero to the LGBT community. Without him, we would not be able to begin the conversation around marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples. So there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be buried with dignity and respect. His case, Lawrence v. Texas, was the most important U.S. Supreme Court case for the gay and lesbian community.
The gay rights establishment, dominated by white gays and lesbians, is often accused of being thoughtlessly racist. Sometimes the charges are baseless and self-serving. In this instance, however, if the gay rights establishment doesn’t get it in gear and raise the money needed to properly bury Garner, then the institutional racism could and should stick.
Keith Boykin is going to put info on his website about where you can donate a few bucks. As soon as it’s up, I’ll be sending off a check. You should too.
UPDATE: Too late.
I just received word from Mitchell Katine, the local attorney in the Lawrence v. Texas case, who informed me that Tyron Garner’s brother Darnell signed the papers just this morning releasing Tyron’s body to the county for cremation (at no cost). The fund which had been set up for his burial had raised only $225.00 in 6 weeks.
This should never have happened… This man was a hero to our community, and the community failed him. The group that created this fund could have written a check itself to cover the cost of this man’s burial. And the community that was solicited should have given up far more than $225, almost half of which came from the lawyer. Are the lives of black gay men disposable? Does no one care?
Although it is too late to preserve Garner’s body, it is still possible to preserve his legacy and to help his family. The family would like for Tyron’s ashes to be put in a metal urn (instead of a plastic bag), and they would like to print some obituaries for Garner. The total cost for the metal urn and the obituaries is $430.00, meaning they need an additional $205 from the $225 already raised.
Several people have already contacted me and offered to give more than that amount to the fund. I encourage anyone who is interested to make a contribution anyway. All excess funds will go to the family, the lawyer tells me. Contributions should be made payable to the Tyrone Garner Fund and sent directly to:
11757 Katy Freeway, Suite 100
Houston, Texas 77079