Sunday, 11 September 2011


I can’t believe its 10 years since the 9/11 attacks. Like a lot of people I can remember what I was doing when I heard the news. I was working in the art gallery at Nottingham Castle wondering why someone hadn’t taken me off for my tea-break – they were 10 minutes late. Then my colleague arrived and told the news.

I watched the unfolding tragedy that night with an ex-boyfriend who had invited me round because he and his then partner had been standing on top of the World Trade Centre a month earlier and was feeling a bit emotional.

It seems heartless to single out one group of 9/11 victims because there were so many, and there’s no way justice can be done to all of them. I’d like to mention just a few of the lgbt victims.

Officially, Victim 1 (the first body to be recovered, identified and certified) was Father Mychal Judge, a priest who was administering the last rites to a firefighter who had been fatally injured when the first tower collapsed. Kneeling beside the firefighter Father Mychal was killed by more falling debris. He was a fearless gay Catholic priest who was an active supporter of New York’s lgbt community.

The highest-profile victim whose life has left a worldwide legacy is Mark Bingham. An amateur rugby player, he was one of the passengers of Flight 93 (played by gay actor Cheyenne Jackson in the film “United 93”, the film of 9/11 that has been shown most on tv to mark the anniversary). They fought the hijackers and forced the plane to crash before it reached its target. Within a month the world’s gay rugby clubs had gathered together to create the Mark Bingham Memorial Tournament, or the Bingham Cup, the World Cup of gay rugby.

There were British victims too. Graham Berkeley was born in Shrewsbury, Wiltshire, and moved to the US in 1990. In July 2001 he met his partner Tim at a pizza place. Graham was in the 2nd plane to hit the World Trade Centre less than 2 months later.

Pamela Boyce, Vice-President of the accountants Carr Futures Inc., worked on the 92nd floor of the first tower to be hit. She told her girlfriend many times, “Don’t mourn my death; celebrate my life”.

That’s the sentiment I hope you will agree with. All the victims had a life worth celebrating by their families and friends. A good number of them, like Mark Bingham, have inspired others to create something good out of tragedy. There’s no shame in celebrating them.

If you’d like to know more about the lgbt victims go to and

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