Lou Rispoli, a respected and beloved gay rights advocate in the Sunnyside neighborhood of Queens, was attacked by two men in the early morning of October 20. Openly gay City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer announced that Rispoli was taken off of life support on October 26. He was 62.
The victim was struck in the head with a blunt object, the sound of which neighbors mistook for a gunshot. The two assailants are described as being in their 20s and may have emerged from a car with Rispoli, according to an eyewitness. It is not yet known whether Rispoli knew the men or if the attack was a hate crime based on his homosexuality.
Rispoli married his partner of 31 years in 2011. The two met on the subway in 1980 and raised two daughters. Mark Horn, a longtime friend of Rispoli, told Gay City News:
[T]hat even before there was God’s Love We Deliver, Rispoli was cooking meals and delivering them to people with AIDS in the neighborhood. Rispoli’s involvement in LGBT rights went back to the Gay Academic Union in the 1970s. He was also secretary to the legendary out gay composer Virgil Thomson for many years.
“Lou was a proud gay man,” Van Bramer said. “He fought for full equality for our community. But I don’t know if he was attacked because he was a gay man. This is a good and safe neighborhood where gay men and lesbians can walk the streets and be who they are.”
The mayor’s office and the NYPD is offering a $22,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for Rispoli’s death. Anyone with information about the attack is urged to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS, submit tips at nypdcrimestoppers.com, or text those tips to 274637 (CRIMES), then enter TIP577.