On Friday June 22nd 2012, queers around the country left work early to start their Pride weekend- and so began 72 hours of drinking, flirting, flaunting and dancing. While we were busy indulging in the traditions of PRIDE, two young lesbians in Texas were fighting for their lives after being left for dead with bullets in their heads.
Maybe you have heard of Mollie Olgin, 19, and Mary Kristene Chapa, 18, or perhaps you missed the small bit of press that covered the horrendous crime that left Mollie dead and Mary fighting for her life in a local hospital. When news finally found its way to Chicago on Monday, details were few and far between – and have since tapered off leaving us wondering what, if any justice is being served. What actions are being taken across the country to get to the root of this senseless crime?
This is a sad story of two young lesbian lovers from Portland, Texas. They had been dating for close to a year and family and friends were supportive of their relationship. On their way to a movie, the girls stopped by a local park to “kill some time”. The detour led the girls to an encounter leaving one girl dead and one girl fighting for her life. It left a small town stunned, and LGBT activists scrambling to set up vigils nationwide.
News continues to trickle in slowly, stating only sparse facts. On Saturday, these two young lesbians were discovered in a park, 9 hours after they were shot in the head. Can you even think about being with your partner as she lies dying in the grass next to you- just waiting for someone to find you? While the news of the crime quietly spread in Texas, hundreds of lesbians, queers and allies gathered for Chicago’s Dyke March. As the local Texas paper awkwardly fumbled around for words describing the sexual orientation of the girls- Chicago’s Lesbian Community awkwardly came together in numbers too small and voices too silent in a feeble attempt to show solidarity and march for equality and civil justice through the streets of our city.
In retrospect – I fear we forgot why we were marching. I am saddened because while we are able to march peaceful and free in Chicago, there are so many places in this world where freedom of expression is not a possibility. I say this because our reaction and our actions are the only true power that we have to evoke change in this world. And if we fall apathetically silent then we are surely defeated. Then we are giving up not only on ourselves and our personal freedoms – but we are giving up on every young queer woman out there in the small towns scattered across this country who look to places like Chicago for hope and possibility. Our action, not our apathy, is the only way that we can let the Texas Rangers know that we are watching this case very closely. That we care and want justice to prevail so these two young women do not just fade into yesterday’s headlines.
Authorities still have no proof that the crime can be classified as one of hate. The vigils bring little attention, but attempt to recognize and celebrate the life of Olgin and pray for that of Chapa. It feels as if we as a society push this tragedy to the back of our minds to wrestle with the stories of so many other senseless crimes that we hear about on a weekly basis. We stand stunned and saddened unable to retract or reverse the horrible reality that is: these two innocent lesbian women were the victims of someone’s hatred. Like so many before her, Mollie Olgin signifies innocence lost and senseless violence towards our fellow human beings simply because she dared to love whom she loved.
We cannot change what happened last weekend in Portland, but as a community we can make it known that it will NOT be tolerated. If these two women are erased and subsequently forgotten- we have no one to blame but ourselves. Instead of coming out of Pride weekend with nothing but a hangover and sun burn, try this: realize and react to the fact that not everyone has the privilege to march down the streets of their city in pasties and a rainbow flag. Not everyone can run around the city flaunting their girlfriend, and not everyone is safe simply being who they are in this world. Take advantage of something that you are lucky to have- your voice- and let the world know that what happened to these two women is not to be tolerated.
I am angry. I am angry for Mollie and Mary. I am angry because just as quietly as this story came to us, it is once again disappearing. I am angry because our community needs to be outraged. I KNOW I am not alone, so join me. Share your concern – share the story…. Bring these girls the rally that they need to have behind them to have justice. Use your voice, use your privilege and make this reaction one that the world won’t forget.
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Mary Kristene did not have insurance. If you would like to make a donation to help out with her medical bills, please click here.
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Lauren was born and raised in South Minneapolis and like many other innocent midwesterners got sucked into the black hole of Chicago politics 4 years ago. As the LGBT Coordinator for the Gery Chico for Mayor Campaign she attempted to take on the entire city and hasn’t looked back since. Now working for a communications firm, she spends her extra time running around with cases of PBR playing in different sports leagues, hosting couchsurfers from all over the place, and deciding how she is going to change the world. A simple lady at her core, she has decided that the first person to send her an edible arrangement must be the one.