|A recent picture of New Town which is now called Boy's Town|
I realize that I’ve posted this a bit late. I’ll explain the reason later, as the story I’m about to tell you unfolds. I will warn you, it will break your heart and make you pissed as hell.
I think it’s pretty easy to assume that the biggest fear of those who have a family member who is LGBTQQ is that they will be assaulted. While we’re come a long way as far as gay rights are concerned, there is still a lot of work to be done. Plus, the world is full of assholes, who seem to thrive on repressing equal rights. I know that may sound a bit harsh, but that’s how angry I am at the moment.
For years now I’ve been going to the same hair stylist, a wonderful lady named Shannon. Not only is she cheap, but she can work miracles with my hair. (and Jackie’s too, when lil sis gets it into her head to use a groupon at another salon) Best of all she is just as big of a smartass as I am. So, you can all probably guess that I will never trade her in.
We were talking about the gay rights issue one day and she shared the story about what happened to her uncle, Lewis ‘Nino’ Heacox Jr. He was a son, a brother, an uncle, a friend, a business owner and he was gay.
He owned a bar in Chicago. It was called Anarchy’s and was located in New Town. We now know the area as Boy’s Town. While it was 1980 and not easy to be out and gay, Nino was brave. In fact, I think he’s one of the ones who helped pave the path for kids like Cody.
On August 6th, 1980, Nino was viciously attacked in his bar and left for dead. I won’t go into details of what they did to him, but suffice to say it was barbaric, horrifying and made me cry. How one human being can do that to another amazes me and makes me wonder about society as a whole.
Chicago PD declared Nino DOA and he was transported to the morgue. Several hours later when they went to perform the autopsy, they discovered that Nino was still alive. Now just take a moment to think that over…first he was tortured, then he was shoved into a freezer, because some person didn’t know how to properly look for signs of life.
Nino was in a coma and put on life support. Two weeks later, his family made the heart wrenching decision to take him off the machines, so he could die in peace. So, the hospital took him off life support, but Nino wasn’t done fighting left because he began to breathe on his own.
I wish I could say that he woke up, named his attacker and all was well, but that wasn’t the case. Nino remained in a vegetative state until he finally passed on June 21st, 1985. His family never got to hear his voice again, feel his arms around them as he gave them a hug or got to be on the receiving end of all the practical jokes he loved to play on other.
Now, you’re probably asking, “What about the police investigation?” Remember though, this was 1980 and Nino was gay. Not only was there never any real investigation, but when Nino’s bar was looted, there was no action taken for that, either.
Most of these details come from Nino’s sister. We chatted on the phone today and let me tell you, the woman is amazing. She always stood by her brother and loved unconditionally. Even as we talked, all these years later, the pain and betrayal was so strong in her voice that it brought tears to my eyes.
The reason why it took me so long to write this was I tried to do an internet search to find out information on this case. I was unable to dig up a single thing. Even though this is one of the most gruesome crimes I’ve ever heard about, it still does not have any press. Plus, we must all remember that it’s now technically a homicide case, since Nino did eventually succumb to his injuries.
You’re probably wondering why I chose to discuss this during the Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia. I can easily answer that with Nino deserves justice. His family deserves closure. We as a society need to scream out that this kind of crime won’t be tolerated, be the person LGBTQQ, straight, white, black, male or female. I hope that sharing this story will do two things. One that it may generate some tips that may finally solve this case. Two so we can hopefully learn from past tragedies and never allow them to happen again.
In closing, I want to share a story that Nino’s sister told me. One day when Nino was eleven and she was ten, they were laying on the grass, looking up at the stars. Nino turned to his sister and said, “I’m never going to live to see my 30th birthday. I don’t know how I sure of this, but I just have a feeling.” The attack happened a few days before his…you guess it, 30th birthday.