It is a well known fact that LGBTQ folks face increased violence and victimization just for being who we are. This fact is unfortunately one that definitely applies locally.
I have spent the last several years researching the murders of gay men in the local area.
These men are Henry “Bud” Quimby, William Schaefer, David Wagner, and Dean Thurston.
Henry Bud Quimby was a popular radio disk jockey. He was murdered Aug. 17, 1981. At the time of his death he had been working at KTOE as both a DJ and technical expert. He had been the host of KTOE’s “Going Home Show.”
Wiliam Schaefer had been the owner of Jake’s Pizza in New Ulm, which is where he was murdered Aug. 21, 1987. His body was discovered in his apartment above Jake’s Pizza by his parents when they went to help open up the pizzeria.
Less than a month later, David Wagner was murdered in Mankato Sept. 17, 1987. His body had been so badly mutilated by his murderer that he had initially been identified as a woman by police. According to his obituary he enjoyed drag car racing.
Dean Thurston was murdered July 18, 1997 in an apartment in Mankato. According to comments from articles from that time by those who knew him, he was well respected for his work with homeless and low income people.
In all four cases, the perpetrators almost all tried to utilize the gay panic defense or a variation of it. The gay panic defense is basically when a heterosexual who acted violently against a gay person, claims that sexual advances from the gay person is what caused them to act violently.
Drugs and alcohol use by both victims and perpetrators appear to have been common themes to all four murders. The murderer of William Schaefer specifically claims that he was supplied with cocaine by Schaefer.
The two 1987 murders took place not only at the height of the AIDS crisis (which is believed to have led to higher levels of violence against the LGBTQ community) but during a heightened drive to add sexual orientation to Mankato’s non-discrimination ordinance.
It was first hearing about these murders that ultimately drove my desire to do more research into local LGBTQ history.
I don’t know how we’re going to end violence against LGBTQ people for violence is a far too common theme in our lives. These are just the murders that happened locally. Nationally, we know that violence against LGBTQ people is a dangerous epidemic with no end in sight.
I know I want to leave in peace someday though. Why can’t that peace come today?
Write to Jeremy Redlien at Jeremy.firstname.lastname@example.org