Sakia Gunn

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Copyright (c) by Dina Mazina and Rebecca DiBrienza, 2008. All rights reserved.

Sakia Gunn. [1]

Sakia Gunn, a fifteen-year-old Aggressive-identified African-American from Newark, New Jersey, was fatally stabbed on the morning of May 11th, 2003. Three men were harassing Gunn and two friends while they were waiting at a bus stop, and the three women told the men that they were lesbians in an effort to get the men to leave them alone. The men then attacked the three women, and one of them, 29-year-old Richard McCullough, stabbed Gunn in the chest as she attempted to defend her friend. According to Off Our Backs, a women’s news journal, this case of harassment was “exacerbated by the apparent homophobia of the suspects”. [2]

The murder prompted a reaction from LGBT activists regarding the safety of queer individuals in Newark, as well as the unwelcoming nature of the area. Much of the immediate response involved vigils and gay rights rallies in honor and remembrance of Gunn. The murder also prompted LaQuetta Nelson, a gay rights activist with a long personal history, to come out of retirement and begin work organizing in the area. The 48-year-old activist decided to work on creating a supportive safe space for Newark LGBT youth. To help with this action, Nelson started the Newark Pride Alliance and the Sakia Gunn Memorial Fund to serve for managing donations.[3]



  2. Marisa Mizus, Maryam Moody, Cindy Privado, Carol Anne Douglas, et al. "Lesbian murdered by street harassers. " Off Our Backs 1 Jul 2003: 7. Research Library. ProQuest. Bryn Mawr College Library, Bryn Mawr, PA. 12 Dec. 2007 Ronald Smothers. "Man Arrested In the Killing Of a Teenager In Newark. " New York Times [New York, N.Y.] 16 May 2003, Late Edition (East Coast): B.4. National Newspaper Abstracts (3). ProQuest. Bryn Mawr College Library, Bryn Mawr, PA. 12 Dec. 2007 <>
  3. DuLong, Jessica. "Behind the Headlines; A movement grows in Newark; The murder of lesbian teen Sakia Gunn spurred activist LaQuetta Nelson out of retirement to fight for New Jersey's gay youth. " The Advocate 14 Oct. 2003: 22. Research Library. ProQuest. Bryn Mawr College Library, Bryn Mawr, PA. 12 Dec. 2007
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