A Grandmother to Many
As the founder of the former transgender advocacy group Crossroads, Grace Bacon is considered the grandmother of the transgender community in Michigan by many. Some know that Bacon spent her career in the data processing industry before retiring, or that she is an accomplished photographer as well. However, few know that she’s also a grandmother in the literal sense, too, and it is her grandson, Kevin Bacon, who was murdered so brutally this Christmas.
In the early hours of the New Year, Grace Bacon shared on her personal Facebook page a lengthy post in which she expressed not just grief for the young life that was so cruelly taken away but also an outline of the plans she wishes to implement to ensure that her grandson’s fate does not befall others. She also wishes to hold those who perpetrate crimes against the LGBTQ community accountable. This would be an extension or continuation of the Transgender Safety Project, something Grace Bacon launched years ago.
“Both of my ex-wives are dead,” Bacon said. “My parents are gone. I’ve seen death up close at times. But nothing bothered me quite like this. It’s a young person that was robbed of what? Sixty, maybe 80 years of life, even. This young man had a lot of potential. We were robbed of his company. It bothers me, because it was such a senseless waste. The whole damn thing is so senseless. It’s so tragic.”
Plan of Action
Bacon has a lifetime of experience as an activist, organizer and advocate.
“I’ve always wanted to … bring people together so that we can accomplish more,” she said. “I did a lot of thinking about this within the last couple [of] years. We have no one who’s looking out for us. We have to do it ourselves. And in this case, our biggest weapon would be public opinion. And what I want to do is show to the people in charge, whether they be police, prosecutors, judicial, prison authorities that there are some people that are concerned. What I want to do — and this is strictly a letter-writing campaign — is an appeal to do their jobs and do it properly.”
The campaign would consist of sending letters to judges and asking for the maximum sentencing for anyone convicted of a crime against the LGBTQ community, Bacon said. She would also like to talk to parole boards regarding anybody having committed crimes against LGBTQ people to keep them in prison “as long as we possibly can.”
“I want to keep these people off the street and away from the rest of us,” Bacon said.
Bacon also suggests LGBTQ people consider arming themselves.
“I know this is going to draw some negative comments from a lot of people, saying more guns on the street is not going to be solving anything,” she said. “I think it may. Because so many people, when they attack a member of the gay community, the transgender community, is looking for a ‘soft target.’ Somebody that’s not going to fight back. Bullies are like that. [But] if they find somebody that’s going to fight back, they’re going to leave you alone. And I feel people who arm themselves responsibly and legally have the edge. I think it may cause somebody to think twice … before taking a baseball bat to one of us. I want to end that. I want to put some fear in those people.”
The attention that her grandson’s murder received has surprised Bacon, and she hopes it can serve a positive function: a catalyst for action among members of the LGBTQ community. “It’s brought to mind that it’s not just the transgender community, but it’s the LGBT community, in general, that’s targeted,” Bacon said. “There are predators out there that are taking advantage of us, and I’m glad that this fact is being shown.”
Bacon said she and her grandson were not as close as she would have liked, and that she and his father Karl had been estranged for the past couple years. Tragically, it’s Kevin’s death that brought them back together this Christmas.
“I wish I had known him better,” Bacon said of her grandson. “Kevin at one time didn’t have [the] full support of his family. And at that point, I was there, and I stepped in. And he was very glad for my interest.”
Kevin’s life touched many, Bacon said.
“The support that I’ve received, literally nationwide, it’s beyond belief,” she said. “It’s overwhelming, really. I’m really amazed and I’m heartened by it.”
When asked how she’d like Kevin to be remembered, the activist-grandmother replied, “I’d like him remembered as a gentle soul, who people loved and he loved in return.”