News (USA)

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

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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