A Vigil for Mollie and Mary Kristene

1 07 2012

Mollie Olgin and her girlfriend, Mary Kristene Chapa, went to a nature park on the Gulf of Mexico in Portland, Texas, to spend some time together before going to a movie that same night. The movie never happened–they were found in the grass by a couple the following Saturday morning with gunshot wounds to the head. Olgin died, but Chapa remains in hospital, where she is currently recovering.

This would have been a normal start to a beautiful, romantic evening, but some hateful monster decided otherwise.

Portland, Texas, police chief Randy Wright acknowledges that currently there is no evidence that the crime was motivated by homophobia, but local authorities, including Texas Rangers, are exploring the possibility. Sigh. I’m glad simply because local Texas authorities are exploring the possibility of crime motivated by homophobia in the first place, but what in the world would two lesbians be doing on a bluff above the Gulf of Mexico to require an organised, neatly contained murder-execution? We’ll have to await the results, but, so far, I highly suspect the crime was motivated by pure hate.

The most important thing at this point in time is to acknowledge the tragedy. And a tragedy it is. Mollie had just finished her first year at Texas A&MCorpus Christi with  the goal of becoming a psychiatrist, and her father, Mario, expressed misgivings over her absence from work the morning she was found, only to discover his daughter’s death. Meanwhile, Mary Kristene, who was found with her girlfriend’s body, remains in hospital, and her brother, Hilario, has expressed hope in her recovery, noting that she has shown movement in the right side of her body.

I can’t believe this is happening in America in 2012, but, somehow, I can.

Tragedy is never beautiful, but the way people respond to it can be. The murder of Olgin and the attempted murder of Chapa has inspired vigils across the United States. One of these took place recently in Cal Anderson Park in Seattle’s traditionally gay Capitol Hill neighbourhood, on the eastern edge of Downtown. (The park is named after Cal Anderson, who became Washington state’s first openly gay legislator in 1987.) Speakers included Tracy Lievsay, who went to high school with Mollie, as well as Aleksa Manila, who spoke about local LGBTQ resources.

This type of community organizing is too amazing to happen less often. Too many young people are burdened with the weight of ideas about how women and men should be, and how they will be treated accordingly. If you have an effeminate son, shut the fuck up and let him be; and if you have a butch daughter, I hope she kicks your testicles into fuck-you-ville and gives you a black-eye. Otherwise, my condolences go out to the families and friends of Mollie and Mary Kristene, and I wish a speedy recovery for Mary Kristene.

With that, I would like to present a hymn to Mollie and Mary Kristene which played during the Seattle Pride Parade. While it may seem over-joyful at first, I would emphasize its mournfully melodic quality. And, considering the deeply moving lyrical content, I think it proves a fitting homage to the struggles of gay youth everywhere. Here’s to you, Mary Kristene–and to you, too, Mollie, wherever you are. I know you’re there 🙂



New York Daily News

Seattle Post-Intelligencer




2 responses

2 07 2012

As tragic as this is, I don’t want to assume the worst — that this was a violent, senseless hate crime — until there are more facts. Young people are often victims of violence, and part of me wonders if they weren’t just in the wrong place at the wrong time… I hope Mary wakes up sometime soon, so that she can recover and possibly shed more light onto this case.

3 07 2012
Brandon Arkell

I agree, Christine. We should be careful about advertising ‘facts.’ The reason I say this is that it does a disservice to the families of the victims by portraying the incident as if it was motivated by this or that thing. It’s wrong to be presumptuous and say Mollie and Mary Kristene were shot for this or that reason. It can either trivialise or over-glamorise the reality. We do need to find out what really happened.

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