The New York City Police Department is asking for help finding the men who brutally beat a 62-year old gay man and LGBT activist in Sunnyside, Queens. Lou Rispoli, (image, right), who married his partner of 31 years just last year when same-sex marriage became legal in New York, was taken off life support yesterday after the weekend attack.
“Lou didn’t feel it was right to be afraid,” friend of the family Mark Horn told The New Civil Rights Movement, but added that Lou was not someone who would have gotten into a car with strangers. The attack, which happened late at night, when Rispoli often went for walks in the neighborhood he spent most of his life, may or may not have been an anti-gay bias crime. Sadly, as New York City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said at a press conference Thursday, “Lou is now dying at Elmhurst Hospital,” adding, he “will not survive, and this will be a homicide.”
“This is a tragedy for the neighborhood, for the city and for his family,” Councilman Van Bramer also stated. “We don’t know if he was attacked because he was a gay man. In this neighborhood gay men and women can walk in safety without worrying about who they are… Yes, the public is safe but we always have to stay alert.”
Sometime after 2:00 AM on Saturday, on 43rd Avenue near 41st Street in Sunnyside, Queens, 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,” according to Andy Humm at Gay City News:
“The one eyewitness who has come forward has not been able to provide much of a description of the two assailants other than that they were likely in their 20s. A third man, who stood lookout by a car that the group, including Rispoli, may have emerged from prior to the assault, was tall. The car has variously been described as an SUV or a white two-door.”
Rispoli and his husband raised two daughters together. The family released a statement, saying:
Ask anyone who has known Lou to describe him, and the words you will hearrepeated over and over are “loving” and “generous.”
This is a man who opened the home he shared with his husband of 32 years to people from all over his neighborhood in Queens, the city, the country and indeed the world.
Much of Lou’s love and generosity was expressed at the dinner table, through the amazing multi-course meals that almost magically flew out of his kitchen. And at these events he was able to engage people in conversations that would enable us all to laugh with love at our own humanity.
That such a man, whose life has touched so many so deeply, should be struck down so violently is incomprehensible to us. And as Lou lays dying surrounded by those who love him, we find ourselves speechless with grief and disbelief.
Horn, a friend of Rispoli and his husband for decades, is hoping someone will have the courage to step forward. “People knew him and saw him, he liked to take long walks.”
Speaker Christine Quinn’s office did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
Photo of Lou Rispoli via Mark Horn
We invite you to sign up for our new mailing list, and subscribe to The New Civil Rights Movement via email or RSS.