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N.Y. gay rights activist, community leader near death after savage beating

Thursday, October 25, 2012

QUEENS, N.Y. — Lou Rispoli, a well-respected and beloved community leader in the Queens, N.Y., gay neighborhood of Sunnyside, has been removed from life support and remains in hospice care, the result of an early morning attack last week. He is not expected to survive.

Rispoli, 62, who lived in Sunnyside for the past three decades, was attacked at around 2 a.m. on October 20 on 43rd Avenue in Queens.

Lou Rispoli

According to a published account by New York’s Gay City News, Rispoli was hit in the head with a blunt object with such force that neighbors who heard the assault, but did not see it, thought he had been shot.

New York City City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who is gay and represents Sunnyside, said Thursday, “He will not survive, and this will be a homicide.”

Van Bramer said the assault on Rispoli, whom he knew as a friend and someone who worked on his 2009 campaign, “is a tragedy for our neighborhood and our city.”

NYPD investigators released a photo of Rispoli in the hopes that anyone who may have information about the attack will call the NYPD hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS. But police are not commenting in regards to details about the crime, other than noting that “the investigation is ongoing.”

Mark Horn, Rispoli’s good friend for decades, read a statement on behalf of the victim’s husband, family, and community of friends, many of whom gathered for Van Bramer’s press conference.

Describing Rispoli as “loving and generous,” Horn said, “He touched so many so deeply. That he was struck down so violently leaves us all speechless with grief.”

Horn told Gay City News that even before there was God’s Love We Deliver, Rispoli was cooking meals and delivering them to people with AIDS in the neighborhood. Rispoli’s involvement in LGBT rights went back to the Gay Academic Union in the 1970s. He was also secretary to the legendary out gay composer Virgil Thomson for many years.

Rispoli and his husband married in August 2001, on their 31st anniversary, after same-sex marraige was legalized in New York. The couple met on the subway in 1980 and raised two daughters together.

Horn said, “He was a pillar of the gay community and he was a pillar of this community (of Sunnyside). Lou was not afraid. He went where he wanted when he wanted.”

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26 more reader comments:

  1. I hope they catch them and prosecute them to the fullest extent….
    Also best wishes and hopefully a fast recovery.

    Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 5:48pm
  2. OMG What have people become these days, beating up the unarmed and innocent?!

    Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 5:48pm
  3. Hmmmm… I will lay this one right at the feet of the right wingnut Evangelical “Christians” & their Republican henchmen haters.

    Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 5:50pm
  4. I hope they catch them and beat them too…sick fucks

    Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 5:51pm
  5. Horrible. How can someone be so full of hate for another human being.

    Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 5:52pm
  6. this is just aweful

    Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 5:52pm
  7. Our thought are with him and his family.

    Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 5:53pm
  8. my thoughts and prayers are with him and his family. Blessed be

    Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 5:58pm
  9. Homophobic Clergy and Politicians are stirring up the Hate!! Encouraging it too!!

    Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 6:00pm
  10. So heartbreaking :’( What a truly amazing man he was/is..They must catch the feral scum that did this! I hope they find some leads…I hope they ARE actually actively seeking some!

    Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 6:04pm
  11. Ugh

    Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 6:05pm
  12. this is awful — my condolences to friends and family

    Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 6:08pm
  13. Fuckers won’t get away with it. They’ll be caught and thrown away.

    Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 6:09pm
  14. God bless him and please let his condition improve Lord.

    Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 6:13pm
  15. and get they still dont understand why we fight for equal rights

    Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 6:22pm
  16. So sorry to hear this.

    Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 6:22pm
  17. So sorry to hear about this. How devastating for his family and friends!

    Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 6:27pm
  18. It’s almost to the point of having to arm yourself to survive. Will be even worse with a r/r win.

    Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 6:30pm
  19. So sad,

    Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 6:34pm
  20. the pigs who liked this article are just as guilty as the ones who did this. what a shame for someone strong enough to stand up for what they know is right. much love.

    Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 6:36pm
  21. Bet we don’t hear about this on the news!

    Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 6:47pm
  22. this is so sad

    Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 6:48pm
  23. I’ll never be able to understand why people get so violent over this. I cannot comprehend why there are bigots and I cannot comprehend why someone would inflict such pain on another person for something that doesn’t concern them. Orientation is so trivial. I mean, if you’re heterosexual, pansexual, demisexual, bisexual, homosexual, etc. It doesn’t matter. That’s the business of the parties involved and it’s not that big of a deal. I don’t know why others make it a big deal. I’ll never comprehend it. Why would you restrict someone from the same rights as the heterosexual folks? What is so different? I thought love is the same. Is it to reinforce this behavior? Keep things so separate, that this will continue to happen? That it’s okay to be filled with ridiculous hate? That people don’t judge you by your actions – beit that they are good and/or kindhearted – but rather by something that isn’t anyone’s business? I don’t get it. I don’t think I’ll ever understand why there are bigots.

    Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 7:08pm
  24. what is wrong with people…..that this shit still happens…..

    Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 7:20pm
  25. So sad. My condolences to all who knew him.

    Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 8:01pm
  26. OMG – I didn’t know him but knew of his activism and knew he was dearly loved by so many. Tragedies like this are not supposed to happen at all – especially when we reach our 60′s – just goes to the testament: “As long as even one LGBT person is not in a safe space, none of us are truly safe.”

    Posted on Friday, October 26, 2012 at 6:05am