Gay Tragedies turned Travel Destinations
Since the beginning of time, death has fascinated humankind. Unfortunately, untimely death is also very familiar to the LGBT community. In a society where death is sanitized and often left to hospitals and away from people's daily lives, death made public by tragedy enthralls people enough to make memorial sites a popular stopping point on otherwise fun-filled vacations. Various points of tragedy have become travel destinations for the LGBT community in the craze that is dark tourism. There is no better way to pay homage to the LGBT lives that have been lost than to visit the various sites that memorialize their suffering around the world.
Gay Holocaust Memorial
Also known as "Homomonument," this Gay Holocaust Memorial is housed in Westermarkt, Amsterdam. The Homomonument by Karin Daan is a memorial to homosexual victims of the Holocaust. Three triangles make up a larger triangle; the first triangle is raised up from the ground, the second triangle is level with the ground, and the third triangle is at a lower level jutting out into the adjacent canal. This beautiful monument bears a line from a poem by Jacob Israel de Haan that translates to “such a boundless longing for friendship”.
Barcelona’s LGBT monument is located in the city’s Ciutadella Park, beautiful grounds that are central to this fabulous destination. This monument is in honor of Barcelona acting as a safe haven for persecuted groups and individuals, as well as a city that respects the rights of the LGBT community. The inscription in Catalan reads: “In memory of the gays, lesbians and transsexual persons who have suffered persecution and repression throughout history, Barcelona 2011”.
Memorial Site of Matthew Shepard
After Matthew Shepard was killed, people from all over the country visited the fence where he had hung for 18 hours before being discovered. This fence became a pilgrimage site for many people who came to pay their respects, to honor the Wyoming college student's memory, and to mourn his tragic fate. Needless to say, this fence became a monument to remembrance. Only a few months after the 1998 murder, the property's owner removed the fence because of the amount of visitors it had been attracting. The fact that this memorial fence had been removed is something few people know, although Matthew Shepard’s death can never be erased from our memory.
Gravesite of Brandon Teena
Brandon Teena was a transgender man who was raped and murdered in Nebraska for “posing as a male”. His transexuality made him a target for these hate crimes, and has also caused him to be the subject of movies like Boys Don’t Cry and The Brandon Teena Story. Since his death, there have been various controversies about his relationships and misconceived sexual orientation. Brandon Teena is buried in Lincoln, Nebraska’s Lincoln Memorial Cemetery, and his headstone is inscribed with his birth name as well as the epitaph “daughter, sister, and friend”.
The Versace Mansion
Miami is one of the hottest LGBT destinations, and this reputation is only augmented by the fact that it is home to Versace’s notorious mansion and site of his murder. Gianni Versace was shot in 1997 on the steps of his Miami Beach estate after having strolled down Ocean Drive for a coffee and Italian-language newspaper fix. The man who committed the murder shot himself with the same gun a few days later, and the motive behind this crime is still unknown. Needless to say, the Versace legacy still lives long, and is especially admired by the gays!
The Stonewall Riots were a series of demonstrations against a police raid that occurred in June 1969 at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. These riots were the first instances in U.S. history when the LGBT community fought back against a government-sponsored system that persecuted sexual minorities. It was also the event that kicked off the gay rights movement, for a few years later various gay rights organizations were formed around the globe and the first Gay Pride marches began their legacy. The reason most Pride marches occur in June Is to mark the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots!
Statue of Freddie Mercury in Switzerland
The statue of Freddie Mercury in Montreux, Switzerland has been erected as a tribute to Queen’s leading man. This incredible singer was notoriously bisexual, and tragically died from AIDS at the age of 45. The three meter high statue overlooks Lake Geneva and was originally unveiled by Mercury’s loved ones. Mercury was the first major rock star to die of AIDS, and sparked a ton of AIDS awareness work and organizations.
The new Harvey Milk Street (coming soon!)
San Diego might be the first city in the world to name a street for Harvey Milk, who was assassinated in 1978 along with San Francisco’s Mayor George Moscone. Milk has gone down in history as the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in America. Currently Blaine Avenue, Harvey Milk Street would be housed in San Diego’s historically LGBT neighborhood of Hillcrest. This plan has caused some tension in San Francisco though because the City of Rainbows has yet name a street after Milk itself.
Bondi Beach Gay Murders
Sydney’s famous Bondi Beach is unfortunately the site of a series of violent murders that took place in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. It was here that three innocent men were attacked and thrown to their deaths from a cliff top as part of a wider wave of violent hate crimes against gay men. Gangs of homophobic youths roamed the streets of Sydney’s inner suburbs, randomly bashing and killing gay men for sport. Australia’s beautiful coast is tainted with the deaths of these men who will always be remembered.
Frankfurt am Main
This statue stands in remembrance of the homosexual individuals who were persecuted by the Nazis. The monument itself is an “injured” angel- the cast of a 19th century bronze sculpture bears the mark of history because its neck has a noticeable scar to symbolize being different. It is also representative of the violence the LGBT community experienced during the Third Reich. This beautifully androgynous statue pays homage to the Nazi’s LGBT victims in a thought-provoking and awe-inspiring way.
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