Thursday, May 17, 2012

Justice for Nino

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.


  1. What a truly tragic story. Thank you for sharing and for remembering--and reminding the rest of us. It is SO easy to forget that it wasn't that long ago that crimes against the LBGTQ community just got swept under the rug, nobody seemed to care--or that many people who did care were too afraid to speak up because doing so would jeopardize their careers and maybe their own lives.

  2. Your story made me cry. It makes me wonder how many more stories there are like this.

  3. Nino so deserves justice. Oh, this story seriously breaks my heart. I hate it when I hear about stuff like this, especially when there's been no investigation because the person is gay or transgender or whatever other lame ass reason that is given.

    *Fingers crossed* That not only will this spark awareness and change but that somebody, somewhere, somehow, has information and they can help get justice for Nino. Thanks for sharing this story. I now have the urge to call everyone I know in Chicago to see if anyone knows anything.

  4. What really breaks my heart about Nino's story is that it's not uncommon. It's not an unusual occurrence and it's something that so many people have to live in fear of. I hope that one day, he and his family will get the justice they so deserve.

  5. Unfortunately even in the year 2012 people would rather expel their energy hating inside of simply being nice! It's authors like you and the others in the Blog who are bringing awareness and help fight the fight.
    Thank you.

  6. I hope one day Nino and his family get the justice they deserve. This truly is a tragic story that made me cry. To not investigate and let killers roam free just because the victim is gay or transgender, or any other reason is dangerous and stupid. This is wrong and hopefully things will change for the better soon

  7. This is unbelievably sad and wrong. I have read so many sad stories on this hop but this may be the worst. I understand your anger.

  8. I was reaching for the tissues reading this one.

  9. Oh my! What a heartbreaking story. Not only does Nino deserve justice, but so does his sister and the rest of their family. To be declared DOA without properly being checked should be a crime in itself. Maybe something could've been done in all that wasted time to help save him. What a sad day it is when humanity fails in such a brutal way.

  10. Absolutely heart-breaking. I hope that this post gets out there and that one day justice is served. I will be sharing this on FB and requesting others do the same.

  11. Re-posting on Facebook also.

  12. Sharing Link on Facebook and Google+

  13. That's so sad and cruel! I hope Nino and his family will finally get justice. Is there any chance the story might be published/broadcasted somewhere that deals with unsolved crimes?
    Thank you for posting this!

  14. Will share on my blog's facebook page...

  15. Wow, such a horrible story on so many levels. But I think that it is great that you Re spreading the word about this terrible situation

  16. Thank you so much for spreading the word. I would love to see the monster who did this brought to justice. I don't use the word lightly, but there is no other way to describe a person who could commit a crime this vicious.

  17. So, so sad :/ Thanks for sharing.

  18. That story is so sad. There are so many sad stories I've been reading through this blog hop, they tear my heart out.


  19. That is a... horrifying story. It's unbelievable, even though he was gay, that absolutely nothing was done. So hard to even comprehend. I am so sorry for his family. To have something like that happen... At least it wouldn't happen nowadays. If nothing else, it is a sign that things are getting better, even if sometimes it feels as if nothing is going to change.


  20. Thank you for sharing your story, very touching. I have enjoyed the hop.

  21. That was so sad, so heart-breaking...but Thank you Stephani for sharing something so personal with Us because by speaking out is how people became educated, understanding & accepting.

    Thank You for participating in the Hop Against Homophobia.

    Take Care & Wishing You All the Best
    PaParanormalFan Renee
    paranormalromancefan at yahoo dot com