“Boys Don’t Cry” Lawyer Lights Himself on Fire
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Photo courtesy of the Review Journal.

Summary: A gay rights attorney lit himself on fire in New York City this weekend. 

The lead attorney in the case involving a murdered transgender man committed suicide on Saturday, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The murder was the basis for the Oscar-winning film, Boys Don’t Cry.


On Saturday, gay rights lawyer David Buckel, 60, lit himself on fire in New York City, reportedly to protest ecological destruction. The attorney was an environmental activist, and in his suicide note, he said he hoped his death would “serve others.”

Buckel’s remains were found in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, and he was found dead in the morning at 6:30am.  He left a suicide note in a shopping cart near his body, and the note talked about the destruction humans were inflicting on the planet.

“Most humans on the planet now breathe air made unhealthy by fossil fuels, and many die early deaths as a result — my early death by fossil fuel reflects what we are doing to ourselves,” the note said.

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One of Buckel’s most famous cases involved Brandon Teena, a transgender man who was murdered in Nebraska decades ago. Teena’s death was the basis for Boys Don’t Cry, a 1999 film that won star Hilary Swank an Academy Award for her performance.

Buckel also fought for same-sex marriage rights for Lambda Legal. A former colleague, Susan Somner, said that Buckel cared about justice but also understand what it was like to be human.

“He was a very smart and methodical lawyer,” Somner said. “He knew his craft and his trade and was strategic in how to build the blocks toward a sweeping victory.”

The Las Vegas Review-Journal stated that Buckel had devoted his life to fighting for gay rights in various high-profile cases.

“[Buckel] was best known as a champion of gay rights. A 1987 graduate of Cornell Law School, he served as marriage project director at Lambda Legal, a national organization that fights for LGBT rights. In one case he led, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples and their children were harmed because they were excluded from rights granted to married couples,” the Las Vegas Review-Journal said.

“He argued against the Boy Scout ban on gay, fought for the right of gay high school students in Salt Lake City to organize a club and helped a Pennsylvania woman win a lawsuit allowing her to put “beloved life partner” on the headstone of her partner. And he spearheaded a federal case where a court ruled schools are obligated to prevent the bullying of gay students,” the Las Vegas Review-Journal continued.

What do you think of David Buckel’s death? Let us know in the comments below.



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