Activist Lawyer for Gay, Transgender Rights Sets Himself on Fire to Protest Global Warming

David Buckel
Famed lawyer David Buckel committed suicide by burning himself alive to protest climate change in Brooklyn's Prospect Park, April 14, 2018. |

A 60-year-old gay and transgender rights lawyer, known for the "Boys Don't Cry" rape and murder case, died after he set himself on fire in a New York park to protest climate change.

David Buckel's charred body was found in Brooklyn's Prospect Park, and a suicide note said he was using "fossil fuel" to end his life to show how humans were also killing themselves through its use, according to The New York Times.

"Pollution ravages our planet, oozing inhabitability via air, soil, water and weather," the note, which he also sent to The Times, read. "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 added, "Many who drive their own lives to help others often realize that they do not change what causes the need for their help… Honorable purpose in life invites honorable purpose in death."

Accordiing to The Daily Mail, Buckel also wrote, "I just killed myself by fire as a protest suicide."

New York Post quoted a passer-by who saw Buckel's burned remains. "It was just lying there, on its back, knees slightly bent like someone would lie on the sand at the beach," Irena Ryjova, a rollerblader, was quoted as saying.

As a senior attorney with the LGBT rights group Lambda Legal, Buckel was a lead lawyer in the case concerning the rape and murder of a transgender teen, Brandon Teena, the subject of the Academy Award winning 1999 film "Boys Don't Cry."

Susan Sommer, a former attorney for Lambda Legal, was quoted as saying that Buckel was "one of the architects of the freedom to marry and marriage equality movement."

"He deserves tremendous thanks for recognizing this was in many ways at the heart of what it meant to be gay for many Americans and making it a priority," she said, according to The Times. "I learned so much from him about the emotional center of what it means for a gay person not to be able to have all the protections for the person they love and that it's worth fighting for."

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