At our Kansas City Anti-Violence Project fund-raiser on Halloween night, I noticed that some prominent Black LGBTQ leaders weren’t there. I soon learned why: Dionte Greene, 22, a gay man who was active in Kansas City’s Black LGBTQ community, had been killed, and community leaders were comforting his family and friends.
Greene was an active member of the two groups that I had reached out to invite to the Halloween event: Project I Am, a group for young men of color that focuses on skill-building and HIV awareness, and OurThentic, which regularly hosts the only LGBTQ Black nightlife event at Boulevard Nights, 2805 Southwest Blvd., as well as a separate social and empowerment group for youth of color.
Dionte Greene was a humble young man, an emerging leader in the Black LGBTQ community, and the loving father of twin 7-year-old girls. When, as a teenager, he came out as gay to his mother, Coshelle Greene, she quickly reassured her son that she still loved him. Greene was part of a wonderful chosen family, as well, and was also known as Le’Vion Cavalli, the child of the House of Cavalli. He was a local performer, a title-holder and rising star in the Kansas City voguing and ball scene, and a member of the KC Falcons Drill Team.
So when his body was found, shot to death, in his car with the engine running early Oct. 31, near 69th Street and Bellefontaine Avenue in Kansas City, Mo., his friends and many who knew him were shocked.
When the news hit local media, though, there was often no mention that he had been killed. Instead it was framed as the questionable death of a young Black man in a bad neighborhood. Even more disturbing was that, as his friends and family began to tell detectives about what led up to the night of his death, it seemed that he was probably the target of hate-motivated violence and had been lured into a situation where he would be killed because of his sexual orientation and gender expression.
It ultimately took Zach Stafford, a young, Black gay man who shared similar identities to Greene, to fly in from his home in Chicago and write a report about the killing in The Guardian, an international news source, for our own media and communities to pay attention to it. After the article appeared, the FBI started looking into Greene’s killing as a possible hate crime.
KCAVP has been working with Greene’s family, leaders of Project I Am and OurThentic, the larger Black LGBTQ community, local law enforcement, and the media. My role has been to serve as an advocate to Greene’s blood family and chosen family; help preserve the memory of his life with dignity while handling the media presence; help seek justice in his murder investigation and the FBI’s hate-motivated investigation; and connect conversations about his killing with larger concerns about violence, community representation and interaction with law enforcement in the Black LGBTQ community.
Greene’s death has forced us to realize that his murder may only be the most recent and visible in a long series of violent and potentially hate-motivated slayings in the Black LGBTQ community in Kansas City that have gone ignored and unnamed. It is imperative that our entire LGBTQ community in Kansas City become just as concerned and active in seeking justice for him.
I’ve been left to wonder whether part of the reason for the overall community’s silence about Greene’s murder, even among many prominent leaders and our local LGBTQ media, is that he wasn’t a White person who was often seen at one of our predominantly White gay venues in Westport. Do we only care about someone when he or she is well-known and shares similar identities to our own?
KCAVP encourages anyone with information about Greene’s murder to contact the Kansas City Police Department at 816-234-5550 and/or KCAVP at 816-561-0550.
Randall Jenson is the youth and outreach coordinator for the Kansas City Anti-Violence Project. KCAVP’s vision is to end all types of violence in the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. If you or someone you know needs support or services, please call KCAVP at 816-561-0550.