Stonewall50 Saw a Staggering Uptick in Homicides, Hate Violence

A new report from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs is shedding light on hate-motivated crime during Pride season.

Twenty-two anti-LGBTQ protests, 14 murders, and two deaths in detention. Those are the sobering numbers coming out of a report today from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP).

While queer people across the world celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots that sparked the modern-day LGBTQ rights movement in June, festivities were also marked by a staggering uptick in violence against the community, according to NCAVP. The organization, which tracks homicides and hate crimes against LGBTQ people across the nation, has released a summary on violence during Pride season for the first time in its nearly 40-year history.

“This two month process was one of the most emotionally draining that we’ve had at work when we’re supposed to be celebrating,” Eliel Cruz, director of communications for the New York City Anti-Violence Project, tells NewNowNext.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Community members celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in June 2019.

NCAVP historically issues annual reports on anti-LGBTQ incidents. In 2017, the organization broke with the tradition and put out a second update in the middle of the year, warning community members of the deadliest year on-record for LGBTQ people.

Cruz says it’s the first time since that 2017 deep-dive that the organization has issued a special report. Every Pride season, NCAVP sees an uptick in in violence against queer people, in part because advocates believe LGBTQ people suffer a backlash for visibility.

“I don’t want to say it’s a spike in violence,” Cruz adds. “There was a concerted number of homicides in those two months that felt really heavy.”

While 2017 had been the deadliest on record for transgender people in particular, with 29 slain, 2018 showed a slight decrease with 26 deaths. This year started off on a more hopeful note. By April, advocates had tracked only four transgender homicides. But May saw three transgender murders in quick succession.


Monica Roberts, a nationally renowed transgender advocate and author of the blog TransGriot, remarked during that time, she’d feared summer would bring such a trend.

“When the weather warms up, [incidents of] anti-trans violence rise along with the warmer temperatures,” she wrote.

Between mid-May and mid-July, LGBTQ homicides tripled from the previous three months, averaging two per week.

Of the 14 LGBTQ homicides, half of the victims were black transgender women.

Two transgender women also as a result of detention during Pride season; Johana Medina, an El Salvadoran asylum-seeker, died after leaving ICE custody the first day of June, and Layleen Polanco died at Riker’s Island Jail in June.

The report also points out that White Nationalists targeted Drag Queen Story hours and other Pride events at least 22 times. Nationally, it totals 10 unspecified violent incidents, three reports of vandalism, three assaults, and one verbal assaults.

It concludes that President Trump’s anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and agenda fueled a climate of hate against the the queer community.

“From an increase in the number of legislative attacks on the rights and protections of LGBTQ communities, to an increase in the severity of hate violence against LGBTQ people, our collective struggle continues,” it states.

Kate Sosin is an award-winning, trans-identified news and investigative reporter.