As the 10th Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approaches, many media outlets have been remembering victims and heroes of that tragic day, and sharing the stories of survivors and loved ones. Illustrating the diversity of people affected by the 9/11 attacks, quite a few of these stories and memorials are LGBT-inclusive.
Below are some of the highlights from that coverage.
A number of news outlets, including Fox Nation, DNA Info, and Gay City News have shared the story of Father Mychal Judge, the gay Catholic priest who was killed by debris from the collapsing World Trade Center as he was caring for victims. Father Judge, 68, was a chaplain at the New York Fire Department and was known in the New York LGBT community for his work with AIDS outreach. His funeral Mass, held at St. Francis of Assisi Church where he resided, brought over 2,000 people. Fox Nation recently published a speech of remembrance delivered by their legal analyst, Peter Johnson, Jr., at the funeral Mass. In his speech, Johnson recalls asking Judge’s sister, Dymphna, what made him so great, to which she replied, “With Mychal there were no narrow truths. There was only wide open possibility.” DNA Info reports that the New York City Fire Museum is displaying the gear he wore during the 9/11 attacks as part of their memorial.
Along with Father Judge’s story, Gay City News recalled Mark Bingham, the openly gay rugby player and 9/11 hero who helped save countless lives by giving his own in a revolt against hijackers on Flight 93. Mark’s efforts, along with those of his fellow passengers, are credited with preventing the plane from crashing into the White House or the U.S. Capitol Building. His memory lives on through his mother, Alice Hoagland, who has since become an outspoken advocate of LGBT issues and a supporter of gay rugby. Alice has shared Mark’s story though the feature length documentary film, With You, a segment of which was featured in a profile of Alice in the 9/11 Remembered portion of Yahoo.com. Gay City News also highlighted the work of LGBT advocacy group Lambda Legal in helping those LGBT people who lost their partners in the attacks to receive benefits for spouses of 9/11 victims.
The Advocate ran a story detailing the roles of various LGBT people and organizations during and after the 9/11 attacks in New York. The article begins with Tom Ryan, a retired New York City firefighter who, upon hearing of the attacks on World Trade Center, called his firehouse and rushed to the scene. At the time, Tom was the only openly gay firefighter in the FDNY. Tom was later a pallbearer in Father Mychal Judge’s funeral. In the West Village neighborhood of Manhattan, next door to the now closed St. Vincent’s hospital, the LGBT Community Center offered immediate assistance to survivors and, later, counseling services for those grieving. Along with more than 30 LGBT organizations, including GLAAD, the Center held a memorial for victims of the World Trade Center attacks.
GBM News, a community news source for LGBT people of color, shared the experiences of three heroic first responders – a firefighter, an NYPD detective, and an EMT – who were at the World Trade Center on 9/11. Their respective stories convey the uncertainty, fear, and sadness felt that Tuesday morning. Pamela, the NYPD detective, described the scene in downtown Manhattan that day, and the overwhelming feeling that she might not make it home to her partner. “I thought about her, and how worried she must be. I couldn’t stop what I was doing, but I thought I might not ever see her again.” Fortunately, Pamela made it home and, after recently retiring from the NYPD, became engaged to her partner.
As part of its remembrance of the 9/11 attacks, The Seattle Lesbian news website is running a daily series of stories, photos, videos, and anything else pertaining to that day and the 10-year period following it. The series will run through September 12 and invites anyone to submit their story, photo, or video for potential inclusion. Co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Seattle Lesbian, Sarah Toce, has already contributed her personal account of the 9/11 attacks, which happened the day after she moved to New York.
Taking a slightly different approach, CNN asked several Americans, who were not necessarily directly affected by the attacks, how their lives had changed since September 11, 2001. One of the interview subjects, openly gay man Guy Jenkins-Bass, recalled that in 2001 he was still a college student and had just been diagnosed as HIV-positive. Speaking of his diagnosis, Guy said, “I’ve never thought that I would be here ten years later.” Now, Guy says he is happily married and confident that he will survive.
GLAAD commends these and other media outlets LGBT-inclusive coverage of the 10th anniversary of 9/11. These often tragic and occasionally heartwarming stories remind us of the immense suffering felt and extreme courage shown by a vast amount of people that day, including those who are LGBT-identified.