Ten Years Later, Lambda Legal Remembers Sakia Gunn

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May 14, 2013
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Sakia Gunn

Last Saturday marked 10 years since Sakia Gunn, a 15-year-old Black lesbian, was murdered in downtown Newark, N.J., for being who she was. Today, we honor the memory of Sakia Gunn and all those we’ve lost because of anti-LGBT hatred and violence. Too many of those we have lost were young people of color, like Sakia, whose stories aren’t being fully told by the media.

On May 11, 2003, Sakia, a high school sophomore and basketball star, and her friends were heading home to Newark from the West Village in New York City. She was killed by a man for rebuffing his advances. This tragic story is a reminder that LGBTQ people still live in a culture where they are under a constant threat of violence for simply being themselves.

We all have a responsibility to take action and to keep working until all young people are safe and respected, no matter what their sexual orientation or gender identity. We must hold people accountable for violence and discrimination, and use the courts when necessary. And most importantly, we must love and teach all our children to be themselves and to respect and support others to do the same.

On Saturday, our colleagues at Liberation in Truth Social Justice Center, which was renamed the Sakia Gunn Memorial Social Justice Center, led a march in Newark along the path that Sakia walked the night she was killed. We are grateful to Liberation in Truth and other community groups and leaders whose efforts have created a safe space for LGBT youth in Newark.

As we commemorate Sakia’s life, let us each mark this day by rededicating ourselves to fighting discrimination and hate against LGBTQ youth—and to educating all of our youth about respect for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Resources:

Know Your Rights: LGBTQ Teens & Young Adults

Out, Safe & Respected

National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs

Photo: democracynow.org (CC 3.0)