With the imminent arrival of transphobic and homophobic bigots from East Texas Nov. 16, we can’t see a more proper time to look back on the anti-LGBT oppression which unfortunately continues to this day. We do this to remind our readers that the old slogan, “Silence = Death” is accurate and that bigotted attacks follow unchecked bigots.
CONTENT WARNING: This story depicts blatant bigotry and violence.
May 15, 1988 – Tommy Lee Trimble and John Lloyd Griffin, two gay men, were planning on having a normal weekend in Oak Lawn. Unfortunately, this weekend would be their last. The two men, described by friends as, “hard-pressed to purposely squash a flea”, were harassed and later shot to death by Richard Lee Bednarski in Reverchon Park. Bednarski and 9 of his friends, all from Mesquite High, drove to Oak Lawn to “egg the fags”. Bednarski convinced Tommy and John to drive him and some of his friends to Reverchon Park. He told them to get naked, when they refused, he shot both of them. Tommy died immediately, John 5 days later.
Bednarski was later convicted of the two murders but was sentenced to 30 years rather than life in prison.
Why? The homophobic judge who issued the sentence, Jack Hampton, felt that Bednarski, a son of a cop, who was scheduled to attend university, was a “good kid”. The judge said later that he believed the victims wouldn’t have been killed if they “hadn’t been cruising the streets” for men, and “‘I put prostitutes and gays at about the same level, and I’d be hard put to give somebody life for killing a prostitute.” The judge was later censured for his remarks and a bias charge was levied against him. Judge Hampton beat that charge in 1989, and held a party inside Union Station while angry protesters gathered outside. His supporters shouted homophobic slurs at the protestors. This same judge attempted to intimidate black voters outside polling booths ultimately lost a bid for judicial re-election in 1992. He retired after his loss.
While losing Hampton the election, led to a more just judicial system. The LGBT community would still be subject to vigilante and police violence.
The killer Bednarski completed his parole in 2018. Tommy and John are alive in our hearts.
For more information about this story: