Vigil In Queens Held For Slain Gay Activist Lou Rispoli

A vigil was held Saturday night in Queens for gay activist Lou Rispoli, who was was beaten to death by unknown assailants on October 20.

Friends, family and community leaders came out to pay their respects to Rispoli, 62, who was out walking late near his home in Sunnyside when he was attacked by three men and left him in a coma. Five days later Rispoli was taken off life support and died.

Rispoli, who was active in local arts and gay-rights issues, lived with Danyal Lawson, his partner of 31 years and legal husband for one. The two met on the subway in 1980 and raised two daughters together. Thanking the crowd gathered on Saturday, Lawson said, “I lost the love of my life.”

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.

Investigators have yet to determine if Rispoli’s orientation was a factor in his murder, but the community he left behind is still desperate for answers: “There are three men out there who think that no one noticed that they beat Lou and left him for dead,” said  Queens Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, a fellow gay-rights activist. “We’re here to tell them they are wrong.”
Below, Van Bramer announces a $25,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of those who attacked Rispoli.