Posted by: Catherine Lugg | April 16, 2018

On the immolation of David Buckel

On early Saturday, April 14, 2018, David Buckel, a long-time litigator for civil rights and environmentalist, set fire to himself in Prospect Park. He left a note saying his death was a political act to protest the world’s use of fossil fuels.

I had long admired Mr. Buckel’s work as a litigator: From Bradon Tenna’s heirs, to Jamie Nabozny, to marriage equity in Iowa and New Jersey, he constantly worked to make queer people recognizable under the law. He did heroic work, critical work, and both my personal and professional lives are far better for it.

And yet….. I remain appalled that he thought suicide would be a stronger political act than litigation. Especially during a time of conservative assault, when a whole slew of people would happily dance upon our queer graves, suicide seems unthinkable. Perhaps I have been working too long in the field of queer politics, but the last thing I want is to do want the Mike Pence’s of this world want: for queers to vanish, i.e., to die. Our very lives prove that the homophobes are lying.

I remain profoundly sad and deeply angry for David Buckle’s passing.


  1. My sympathies, Kath. I agree that this is disturbing at many levels. I wonder whether David believed that suicide reaches a broader set of beneficiaries than legislation does. Terribly sad nonetheless.

    • I really do not understand Buckel’s thinking, especially right now. And it was a horrible way to die. *SIGH!* I am just very, very angry, more angry than sad, I suspect.

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