Family and friends of Deon Brown will hold a candle light vigil this Friday to honor the 24-year-old man who was murdered earlier this week. On Monday Brown was found in a secure parking lot at the location of Western Express, a trucking company in West Nashville.
On Tuesday, Metro Police identified the victim as Deon Brown. Regarding the victim's gender, friends and family identified Brown only as only "him" in an interview with NewsChannel5. The proper gender identification of Brown had become a point of contention within the Nashville LGBT community in light of news reports — including one by O&AN — that used language provided by Nashville Police regarding the discovery of Brown in the early morning of Monday November 14.
The vigil will take place in a parking lot at the beauty salon where Brown worked: 2225 Murfreesboro Pike Nashville, TN 37217 at 5 p.m.
As we wrote at the time, police could only identify the victim as an "African American male dressed as a woman who carried no identification." The phrase engendered concern on social media.
Rev. Scott Kelly commented on our article posted to Facebook:
"The media" includes y'all- what's your policy on gendering individuals in these stories? Your use of pronouns in the prose written by your staff, not the quotes from the police, is questionable.
Almost two years to the day since Gizzy Fowler was murdered, same issues with the police and media.
As we replied on Facebook, this situation differs significantly from that of Gizzy Fowler. Two years ago, Fowler was found murdered in North Nashville and the mainstream media in Nashville reported the story in a way reflective of Gizzy's birth name, Gilbert, and her birth gender, preferring to describe her, as one headline put it, "Man found shot to death wearing women's clothing in north Nashville." It is understandable, then, that similar language used in the discovery of Brown's body would insight similar visceral reaction.
The difference, though, is that Gizzy's friends and family were quick to identify Gizzy as a transwoman, whereas in this case, Brown's friends and family had yet to comment or even identify him. And when they did, it was only in terms of him without regard to sexuality and gender identity.
Castellynn Leigh, a friend of the victim, confirmed to O&AN early Friday that Brown was, in fact, gay and not trans.
Police ask for help to identify West Nashville murder victim