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Central Standard

Young Man's Death Sparks Discussion Of Race In Kansas City's LGBT Community

courtesy of Coshelle Greene

Few people heard about the murder of Dionte Greene. The gay, black man was found shot to death in his car on Oct. 31, 2014, and Greene's friends are convinced that it was a hate crime.

Those who knew him were shocked by his murder. They've called this moment a tipping point, one requiring a conversation about race in Kansas City's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) community, according to reports filed by KCUR's Elle Moxley.

On Wednesday, Central Standardconvened that conversation.

Widespread consensus was that something needs to be done to create greater safety and inclusion for members of the LGBTQ community who come from minority backgrounds. But uncertainty about how to move forward looms large.

Here are some of the key points made by our guests.

D. Rashaan Gilmore, prevention coordinator, Kansas City CARE Clinic

"I think it is important to note that without having spaces that are carved out, not just for people of color who happen to be LGBT but on the whole, we find ourselves in a position where you don't feel safe ... and you don't know where to turn for support and help. 

One of the biggest issues I see right now in this community is that nobody feels like it's their job to take the lead. If nobody's responsible, how do we ever begin to solve this problem? The elephant in the room is just the issue of race relations, period."

Star Palmer, friend of Dionte Greene

"It wasn't just my loss. We have a whole community that's still in pain, as well as a family. We don't have (a safe space). When I say we, it's not just LGBT communities in general, it's especially the African-American and minority population.

I grew up in the Baptist setting, and for me ... when I was outed, I was kicked out of my home. I wasn't raised like that. For the homeless youth that so many times get kicked out of their home ... it's not exclusive to the black community, but it's a common occurrence."

Coshelle Greene, mother of Dionte Greene

"Church is normally a place that looks down upon the gay community. My bishop has been very open and a standup guy on helping and making sure that it doesn't get swept up under the rug. That is my son, and no matter what he chose to do, I must love him."

Justin Shaw, executive director, Kansas City Anti-Violence Project

"There's not a lot of data, there's not a lot of information out there about violence against LGBTQ people ... There's not an interest and no one wants to fund it. It's risky, it's ugly, it's not promoting what the mainstream gay community sees as 'we are the same as you,' because we're bringing up negative things in our community.

Just now at the end of 2014, we launched a survey with the University of Missouri-Kansas City looking at the relationship between law enforcement and the LGBTQ community. That's one of the first studies that's ever been done, especially in Kansas City, to collect some real solid data about what are those feelings, and how many people have really been victimized and have not sought services, either from law enforcement or from social service agencies like ourselves, and what are those barriers?"

Elle Moxley, reporter, KCUR News

"I think it's even more divided than just a white LGBT community and a black LGBT community. I mean, young people hang out in different spaces than older people, lower-income people go to different places than people who are middle class or upper class, and I think those are the same divisions we see not just in the LGBT community, but in Kansas City as a whole."

Justin (called into the show), friend of Dionte Green

"It's kind of hard to sit at home and notice that on that same day, a young Caucasian male was murdered in, if I'm not mistaken, Lee's Summit. And Lee's Summit does not have the same police backup that Kansas City does, and Kansas City went out and assisted Lee's Summit. And the next day, the murderer of that young Caucasian male in his home was found.

It's kind of hurtful that a black gay male was murdered in Kansas City, and the murderer still has not been found. It's kind of hurtful.

I have a lot of friends, and within the New Year, last year, they're dying left and right. I've lost three within the past year or so."

People don't make cameos in news stories; the human story is the story, with characters affected by news events, not defined by them. As a columnist and podcaster, I want to acknowledge what it feels like to live through this time in Kansas City, one vantage point at a time. Together, these weekly vignettes form a collage of daily life in Kansas City as it changes in some ways, and stubbornly resists change in others. You can follow me on Twitter @GinaKCUR or email me at gina@kcur.org.