Later, after the stillness of the forest was broken by gunfire and screams and death, Claudia Brenner wondered how the birds could still be singing. She wondered why the green tarp where she had been lying with Rebecca Wight was now stained with blood. She listened to the chatter of the birds and wondered if they saw what had happened to her there by the stream, wondered what they were saying.
Claudia Brenner is supposed to be dead. Five bullets punctured her body that day. Eight shots in total shattered the afternoon. The blasts seemed to come out of nowhere, leaving Brenner and her girlfriend wounded and bloody when only seconds before they had been making love. Wight, 29, died alone in the Pennsylvania woods. Brenner lived to tell their story.
Brenner's words chill the room and are part of the reason she has become one of the most prominent activists against anti-gay violence in the country. In Washington to speak at the Gay Pride Week event, Brenner goes beyond telling her terrible story and hits at what made it acceptable to her attacker to hunt and kill lesbians. To the crowd gathered to listen, the murders of 11 gay men in the area in 1994 gave Brenner's words urgency.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without permission.