Can­dace Towns

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There has been an over­whelm­ing fre­quency of homi­cides against trans­gen­der Amer­i­cans in 2017, with an av­er­age of more than two mur­ders per month na­tion­ally. Un­for­tu­nately, Ge­or­gia was at the fore­front of this alarm­ing epi­demic, both in terms of num­bers and the di­ver­sity of threats, with four trans­gen­der res­i­dents killed by strangers, in­ti­mate part­ners and law en­force­ment.

The year also saw the pass­ing of ground­break­ing lo­cal LGBT politi­cians and artists, gra­cious phi­lan­thropists and long­time neme­ses. Here are a few of the no­table deaths of 2017:

Bishop Ed­die Long

Bishop Ed­die Long, who led 25,000 fol­low­ers through At­lanta in a march against same-sex mar­riage in 2004, and a few years later set­tled law­suits from sev­eral young men who ac­cused him of ro­man­ti­cally groom­ing them as mi­nors, died Jan. 15 af­ter a sud­den bat­tle against what New Birth Mis­sion­ary Bap­tist Church of­fi­cials de­scribed as “an ag­gres­sive form of can­cer.”

Long had largely re­ceded from pub­lic life af­ter the sex scan­dal un­til he ap­peared in an on­line video, look­ing gaunt and frail, a few months be­fore his death.

Joan Gar­ner

Joan Gar­ner de­ployed the same grit and op­ti­mism that re­sulted in her be­ing the first openly LGBT politi­cian elected to the Ful­ton County Com­mis­sion in 2010 in her bat­tle against breast can­cer, which she suc­cumbed to April 18. A long­time ac­tivist for LGBT equal­ity, Gar­ner was also a pow­er­house for pro­gres­sive causes, and her death was mourned by many Demo­cratic politi­cians.

Gar­ner is sur­vived by her wife, Ful­ton County State Court Judge Jane Mor­ri­son.

Rowan Feld­haus

Au­gusta res­i­dent Rowan Feld­haus sought

Earl English had a larger-than-life charisma, which made it all the harder for his friends, fam­ily and co-work­ers to un­der­stand why his life would end as bru­tally as it did May 16. DeKalb County po­lice found the 28-year-old gay man in­side his home with a plas­tic bag over his head and gun­shot wound in his arm. Po­lice ruled English’s death a homi­cide, but as of Oc­to­ber had made no progress in iden­ti­fy­ing any sus­pects.

“He was the type of per­son if you knew him you loved him,” English’s friend, Tuby­ous Hawes told the AJC.

Ava Le’Ray Bar­rin

Athens res­i­dent Ava Le’Ray Bar­rin was shot to death on June 25 when an ar­gu­ment be­tween two groups of trans­gen­der friends es­ca­lated into gun­fire.

“I re­mem­ber a girl who loved to make peo­ple laugh,” one of Bar­rin’s friends wrote in an on­line obit­u­ary. “A girl who gave me the strength and the courage to find my­self … and will re­main my beau­ti­ful an­gel.”

Tee Tee Danger­field

Trans­gen­der East Point res­i­dent Tee Tee Danger­field, 32, was shot and killed in her car July 31, and po­lice have ar­rested a sus­pect they say was cap­tured on sur­veil­lance cam­eras with Danger­field just be­fore her mur­der.

Danger­field was re­mem­bered as a skilled server and union shop stew­ard, whose air­port co-work­ers or­ga­nized one of two lo­cal memo­rial ser­vices.

Re­becca Ran­son

In 1984, the ground­break­ing At­lanta les­bian play­wright Re­becca Ran­son wrote “War­ren,” one of the first plays to deal with the then-nascent AIDS cri­sis, with a por­tion of the pro­ceeds sup­port­ing ur­gently needed re­search.

“Her writ­ing al­ways in­cluded this hon­est ef­fort to fight for peo­ple and their hu­man­ity and voices, not just the LGBT com­mu­nity,” 7 Stages’ artis­tic di­rec­tor Heidi Howard told art­ af­ter Ran­son died from Alzheimer’s disease Sept. 4.

Scout Schultz

On Sept. 16, Ge­or­gia Tech po­lice re­ceived calls of a per­son on cam­pus with a weapon, and soon four of­fi­cers were sur­round­ing se­nior Scout Schultz, or­der­ing them to put down a mul­ti­pur­pose tool that in­cluded a small knife. Schultz, who iden­ti­fied as bi­sex­ual and non­bi­nary and served as pres­i­dent of the univer­sity’s Pride Al­liance or­ga­ni­za­tion, re­port­edly re­fused to drop the tool, while telling the of­fi­cers, “Shoot me.”

Video footage from that night shows Schultz, who had pre­vi­ously at­tempted sui­cide, slowly ad­vanc­ing in the di­rec­tion of one of the of­fi­cers be­fore be­ing shot and killed by po­lice. Schultz’s fam­ily and peers have de­scribed their death as “sui­cide-by-cop,” and an il­lus­tra­tion of the need for more men­tal health re­sources for Tech stu­dents. Clock­wise from top left:

Can­dace Towns’s plans to meet her friend Malaysa Mon­roe fell through on Oct. 28, and three days later Bibb County po­lice found Towns’s body, the trans­gen­der Ma­con res­i­dent hav­ing been shot and killed.

“If I needed any­thing she would give it to me,” Mon­roe told the Ma­con Tele­graph. “She would give me the clothes off her back.”

An­tron-Re­shaud Olukay­ode

“I just want to be able to fight in a very cre­ative way, that I can leave my mark on here,” At­lanta res­i­dent An­tron-Re­shaud Olukay­ode told about liv­ing with HIV. “When I do leave — and say that I fought the good fight, and I left some color for the world.”

The poet, painter and self-de­scribed “artivist” de­parted this world Nov. 12, hav­ing dec­o­rated it with his bright aura.

Pamm Bur­dett

Pamm Bur­dett did her best to keep good deeds un­der the radar, but those fa­mil­iar with her work on be­half of the Lloyd E. Rus­sell Foun­da­tion knew Bur­dett’s gen­eros­ity and com­mit­ment to LGBT At­lanta were bound­less.

She helped fund the early days of Ge­or­gia Voice, was in­stru­men­tal in the cre­ation of The Phillip Rush Cen­ter and aided count­less causes and in­di­vid­u­als through­out LGBT At­lanta. Bur­dett died Nov. 17 af­ter an ex­tended ill­ness.

De­cem­ber 22, 2017

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