Susan Pittmann and Christine Puckett lived together in a house filled with life in the rural countryside of Huron Township, Michigan. Years earlier, Pittmann had raised her children with her former husband in this same house. Christine Puckett had moved in and the two women lived as a couple along with one of the remaining children and various animals including horses, chickens, and dogs.
This all came to an end on May 5, 1992, with the bloody and senseless killing of Susan Pittmann and Christine Puckett at the hands of their next door neighbor. The 66 year-old man, who stated, “I had to do it”, had been in a feud with Pittmann for years.
This tragic event, however, did not slip away quietly and become another unrecorded statistic of violence against gays. Instead, it sparked a reaction in the local gay and lesbian community with a vigil and public discourse. The two women had been active members of the gay community, both having served on the Board of Directors for the Affirmations Lesbian and Gay Community Center. The resulting trial was monitored by the newly formed Triangle Foundation, which published newsletters following the case’s progress and provided informational assistance to the court.
The attention given to the case, and the fact that a “gay panic” defense was used as possible justification for the killings, helped to bring focus to the LGBT Community’s struggle to remove prejudice (and its resulting violence) based on sexual orientation from our society.
In the end, we have not only a tribute to the women, in the form of the Pittmann Puckett Art Gallery at Affirmations, but also another step in the legacy of progress which the LGBT Community has been able to forge from the losses it has suffered.