The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

No Dignity for Tyrone Garner

The news about Tyrone Garner’s lack of a burial 37 days after his death doesn’t get any better. Keith has an update about how much money was raised to date. Or rather how little.

Apparently it is too late to bury Tyron Garner. I just received word from Mitchell Katine, the local attorney in the Lawrence v. Texas case, who informed me that Tyron Garner’s brother Darnell signed the papers just this morning releasing Tyron’s body to the county for cremation (at no cost). The fund which had been set up for his burial had raised only $225.00 in 6 weeks.

This should never have happened, and it should never happen again. This man was a hero to our community, and the community failed him. The average cost of a funeral and burial is $6,000, according to AARP. The group that created this fund could have written a check itself to cover the cost. Or they could have let the public know that they hadn’t raised enough money. And the community that was solicited should have given up far more than $225, almost half of which came from the lawyer. Are the lives of black gay men disposable? Does no one care?

Does no one care? Apparently not. Jasmyne has a list, and a point.

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37 days after his death, Tyrone Garner’s attorney Mitchell Katine of Williams, Birnberg & Andersen L.L.P, has admitted that Tyrone’s brother signed the papers this morning releasing Tyrone’s body to the county for cremation (at no cost). However, he would like for Tyrone’s ashes to be put in a metal urn (instead of a plastic bag) and he would like to run/print some obituaries at a total cost of $430.00. The fund which was set up has only received $225.00 to date, $205.00 short of the now $430.00 needed to just put Garner in an urn and not a plastic bag. This comes after Tyrone’s body laid in limbo for over a month. Tyrone Garner was the black gay plaintiff in the famous Lawrence v. Texas case.

I am not soliciting donations for $205.00 because for an attorney and an organization with an operating budget of $10.5 million, that’s just fucking ridiculous! Not to mention how his name and case was pimped and used to raise money for Lambda Legal and other groups. This is just another example of how Blacks are used and discarded by the so-called gay leadership of America.

I am not a deeply religious person, but it makes you wonder if Tyrone is looking down from heaven and seeing that his so called friends and allies wouldn’t even cough up the dough to bury or cremate him.

Garner’s body is headed to Harris County, Texas, to be disposed of as a pauper.

I have to admit, I’m more than a little mystified. It’s hard not to see this as Garner being forgotten at best, and at worst discarded with no more thought than one would give to tossing out a used condom. After all, having served its purpose, it’s of no use to you anymore.

Keith points out that the cost of a funeral and burial is $6,000. Jasmyne points out that Lambda’s operating budget is $10.5 million. I understand that $10.5 million has to go into a lot of buckets, but how does the leading LGBT legal organization (which has probably raised at least part of that budget using Tyrone Garner’s name) let this happen to a man who was part of one of the biggest legal victories gays have had in recent memory? How does it happen that he gets tossed into a plastic back like so much garbage? What are black gays & lesbians supposed to think about it?

Jasmyne suggests and I agree that these are not rhetorical questions, but questions that should be put to the leadership at Lambda.

Kevin M. Cathcart

Lambda Legal Executive Director

South Central Regional Office

3500 Oak Lawn Avenue, Suite 500

Dallas, TX 75219-6722

(214) 219-8585

(214) 219-4455 Fax


  1. T–

    I sent an email, this is what I got back:

    “Within hours of being made aware of the unfortunate circumstances faced by Tyron Garner’s family regarding his burial, we raised the balance of
    the funds through staff donations. Our sympathy is with the family at this difficult time,” said Kevin Cathcart, Executive Director of Lambda Legal.

    Lisa Hardaway
    Media Relations Director
    Lambda Legal


  2. Oh My God, Terrance!

    This is the first I’ve even heard of this!
    I can’t understand what rock I’ve been living under…

    It is unexcusable.

    My heart goes out to the family.
    My anger lies in state with Lambda Legal for letting this happen.

  3. Terence- In the Buddhist believe of doing no harm, I believe there has been some hurt done here. I have been the director of a few places and what always has to happen is that someone finds out if something is working or not, money has been given and what can be done to rectify a situation. Getting staff donations doesn’t fix this. I support your work to bring this to the forefront to make sure someone has a consciousness about this horrible disrespect ehaped on a hero of our movement.

  4. I think the word, hurt is an understatement to describe what the family of the deceased went through.
    I think everyone deserves a decent burial. This the least people could give to those who have departed.

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