News Brief: Bryan “Feather Lynn” Higgins died on Wednesday, a teenager’s eye donation was rejected because he was gay, and an Arizona State University football player came out.
By Roy Steele
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA: An unidentified severely beaten and unconscious man was found last Sunday morning in my Duboce Triangle neighborhood.
He was rushed to San Francisco General Hospital, and the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) used social media to engage the public, and asked for help in identifying the victim.
Feather Lynn” Higgins, a gay Duboce Triangle neighbor who worked at the New Rosenberg Delicatessen on Noe Street.
Feather Lynn was unconscious for over three days before his family decided to take him off life support at 3:33PM on Wednesday, when he died. Feather is survived by his husband Brian Hagerty.
Feather was active in the Radical Faerie community. The Radical Faeries are a non-violent counterculture movement and spiritual organization consisting of gay men who are committed to spreading messages of peace and love.
San Francisco Chronicle reporter Evan Sernoffsky writes that the SFPD are still searching for a suspect, and the murder is the talk of the neighborhood.
Authorities are searching for a suspect in the attack, who was described only as a man wearing a gray hoodie, said Officer Albie Esparza, a San Francisco police spokesman. He said three investigators are working on the case, but were never able to talk to the victim.
“Our priority at this point is finding the suspect and the motive for the attack. We want people to come forward even if it’s anonymous,” Esparza said.
News of the attack has spread through the Duboce Triangle neighborhood, which is circumscribed by Duboce Avenue, Castro Street and Market Street.
Supervisor Scott Wiener, whose district includes the Castro and Duboce Triangle, said he has watched the neighborhood deteriorate in recent months due to increased crime.
“Any time we have a member of our community that gets attacked like this it’s jarring. Particularly for the LGBT community, this is a refuge,” Weiner said. “We all need to take this very seriously.”If anyone has any information about this heinous crime, please contact the SFPD. They are asking anyone with relevant information to please contact 415-575-4444 or text TIP411 with “SFPD” at the start of the message.
A gay teen’s organ donation was rejected because of his sexual orientation.
DES MOINES, IOWA: And in the “more tales of heartbreak” department, in July of 2013, 16 year old Alexander “AJ” Betts Jr. of Pleasant Hill, Iowa, attempted suicide.
The teenage student at Southeast Polk High School was gay, and according to his mother Sheryl Moore, he was bullied mercilessly due to his sexuality and mixed-race ethnicity.
AJ was on life support for two days before he died.
Shaina Humphries of KCCI News 8 in Des Moines reports that AJ had decided to be an organ donor in the months before he died, while his mother recently found out that his wishes were not fully granted.
Sheryl Moore received a letter telling her what became of her son’s kidneys, liver, heart and lungs.
“I was very happy to hear that a 14-year-old boy got his heart. He would have really liked that,” Moore said.
She couldn’t help but feel the letter was incomplete since part of his donation was denied.
“My initial feeling was just very angry because I couldn’t understand why my 16-year-old son’s eyes couldn’t be donated just because he was gay,” Moore said.
His eyes were rejected because of a Food and Drug Administration regulation. The regulation came about decades ago at the height of the AIDS epidemic. It makes would-be donors ineligible to donate certain tissue if they’re believed to have a “risk factor” for communicable diseases.
Because Moore could not confirm whether her son had been sexually active or not, the donor network had to assume he had been sexually active in the last five years, thereby ineligible to donate tissue or his eyes.
The exclusion is not limited to certain tissue donations. Gay men are also banned for life from donating blood. It’s a regulation that many say needs to be updated.
“This is archaic, and it is just silly that people wouldn’t get the life-saving assistance they need because of regulations that are 30 years old,” Moore said.Some poor soul who could have benefited from AJ’s eyes lost out because of the FDA’s discriminatory policies.
CBS News reporter Dennis Thompson recently wrote that health experts have been urging the FDA to lift the ban on blood donations by gay men.
“We think it’s time for the FDA to take a serious look at its policy, because it’s out of step with peer countries, it’s out of step with modern medicine, it’s out of step with public opinion, and we feel it may be legally problematic,” said Glen Cohen, of Harvard Law School’s Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology and Bioethics.
The lifetime ban for gay or bisexual men stands in contradiction to other FDA policies regarding people considered high-risk donors due to their sexual behavior, Cohen noted.
For example, there currently is a maximum one-year ban in the United States for blood donations by men who have had sex with an HIV-positive woman or commercial sex workers. The same goes for women who have had sex with HIV-positive men.
By implementing a lifetime ban on donation from sexually active gay or bisexual males, “you’re giving a ‘scarlet letter’ of sorts to these men,” Cohen said.
A gay Arizona State University football player came out.
TEMPE, ARIZONA: The media has reported that Arizona State University (ASU) football player, senior offensive lineman Edward “Chip” Sarafin, has officially “come out.” Chip is the first gay active division 1 NCAA football player.
ASU head coach Todd Graham issued a statement supporting Chip’s announcement.
“We are a brotherhood that is not defined by cultural and personal differences, but rather an individual’s commitment to the Sun Devil Way. Chip is a fifth-year senior and a Scholar Baller, a graduate and a master’s student. His commitment to service is unmatched and it is clear he is on his way to leading a successful life after his playing career, a goal that I have for every student-athlete. Diversity and acceptance are two of the pillars of our program, and he has full support from his teammates and the coaching staff.”
Ray Anderson, Arizona State University’s vice president of athletics, also voiced his support for Chip.
“The entire athletics department is extremely proud of Chip and is unequivocally supportive of him. His undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering, his pursuit of a master’s in the same field, his research involving football-related concussions, and his heavy involvement in the community with both youth sports in Arizona and the Tillman Scholars embodies all the characteristics that set our student-athletes apart and allows our university to maintain an environment of inclusiveness and progression.”
Three gay cheers for Chip Sarafin!
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