Guest Blogger

Remembering and Honoring the LGBT Heroes of 9/11

Filed By Guest Blogger | September 11, 2014 2:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Gay Icons and History, Living
Tags: 9/11, in memoriam, LGBT heroes, September 11

Editor's Note: Guest blogger Will Kohler is a noted historian, writer, blogger, and owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist, Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality.


Please take a minute to read this list and reflect and remember our fallen LGBT siblings listed here who died on 9/11, and all those victims of that fateful day. If you feel so moved, say a silent prayer for them to whomever your higher power may be.

bigstock-Memorial-Candles-320417.jpgThe first recorded victim of the September 11th terrorist attacks was openly gay Father Mychal Judge, a Roman Catholic priest and chaplain to the New York City Fire Department who died ministering at Ground Zero even though he was under no obligation to be there. He gave his life to comfort others in his hour of need.

Renee Barrett passed away on October 18 from injuries she received during the attacks on September 11th. A member of the Metropolitan Community Church of New York, she is survived by her partner Enez Cooper and her 18-year-old son, Eddie Barrett.

Graham Berkeley, a native of England who lived in Boston, boarded United Airlines Flight 175 on September 11. His plane was the second to crash into the World Trade Center.

Mark Bingham was an openly gay man on United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania. He assisted in defending the aircraft against the attackers and is considered one of the many heroes of that day.

Pamela Boyce was at work on the 92nd floor of the World Trade Center's north tower when it was struck. She is survived by Catherine Anello, her partner.

David Charlebois, a member of the National Gay Pilots Association, was the co-pilot of American Airlines Flight 77, the plane that crashed into the Pentagon.

Eugene Clark worked on the 102nd floor of the south tower. He sent his partner Larry Courtney a voice message stating "I'm OK. The plane hit the other tower, and we're evacuating." Clark is still missing and presumed dead.

More names, after the break.

Jeffrey Collman was a flight attendant on American Airlines Flight 11, which crashed into the north tower. He is survived by Keith Bradkowski, his partner of 11 years.

Luke Dudek worked for Windows on the World as the food and beverage controller. He is survived by is partner of 20 years, George Cuellar.

James Joe Ferguson was Director of Geography Education Outreach at the National Geographic Society. He was a passenger on American Airlines Flight 77.

Carol Flyzik was a passenger on American Airlines Flight 11, which was the first plane to crash into the World Trade Center towers. She is survived by her partner of 13 years, Nancy Walsh.

Ronald Gamboa and Dan Brandhorst were traveling home to Los Angeles from Boston with their 3-year-old adopted son, David on United Airlines Flight 175, which crashed into the second tower of the World Trade Center.

Sheila Hein worked at the Pentagon in the U.S. Army management and budget office when her life was taken by American Airlines Flight 77. She is survived by her partner Peggy Neff.

William Anthony Karnes lived within sight of the World Trade Center and lost his life on the morning of September 11th. He is survived by his partner, John Winter.

John Keohane worked at One Liberty Plaza near the World Trade Center. Keohane died by falling debris. Before his death, Kepohane met his partner Mike Lyons on the street. Lyons later committed suicide on his 41st birthday.

Michael Lepore was a project analyst at Marsh & McLennon. He is survived by his partner of 18 years, David O'Leary.

Patricia McAneney was the fire marshal of her floor in the first World Trade Center tower. She is survived by Margaret Cruz, her partner of 18 years.

Wesley Mercer worked as a vice president of corporate security at the World Trade Center. After successfully guiding 3,700 employees to safety, he himself fell victim to the tragedy.

"Roxy Eddie" Ognibene worked on the 89th floor of the second World Trade Center tower. He was a member of the Renegades of New York's Big Apple Softball League.

Seamus O'Neal lost his life in the attacks on the World Trade Center. He is survived by his partner Tom Miller.

Catherine Smith, 44, worked on the 97th floor of the World Trade Center. She is survived by Elba Cedeno, her partner of six years.

Waleska Martinez, a computer whiz in the Census Bureau's New York office, was aboard Flight 93 that crashed outside Shanksville, PA.

Gay and Lesbian Police and Firefighters

Francis S. Coppola, a New York City detective whose partner, a firefighter named Eddie, died in the attacks, summed up the conflicting feelings many LGBT people have had about September 11:

"I have never been more proud of being an American or a New Yorker, but at the same time it has made me sad. The greatest country in the world, and yet we are treated like second-class citizens... The great love of my life died doing what he did best and what he loved to do: helping others. I have never been an activist or ever wanted to be one; however, it is time we stand up and be counted and demand equality -- nothing more or nothing less."

Tom Ryan, one of just three out-of-the-closet firefighters in New York, [says] he "learned that about 25 closeted gay firefighters died on Sept. 11," and he knows "others who survived but are still afraid to come out."

NYPD member Edgar Rodriguez observed:

"As the days went by, we learned that some of the missing rescue personnel were gay, and that many of their lovers, some of whom are cops and firefighters, were grieving in silence for fear of being outed. There were also gay cops that lost family members that were rescue personnel. We all learned too quickly and in too cruel a way that the closet is a terrible place to grieve..."

NOTE: The above list of LGBT lives lost on 9/11 is by no means complete. Unfortunately, there is no way to know the exact number of LGBT victims. If there is someone missing that you would like to remember, please feel free to add them to the comments section and I'll update the list accordingly.

Originally posted on Back2Stonewall.

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