Leader of Texas LGBT Group Dies, Apparent Suicide
The leader and co-founder of the major LGBT rights group in the North Texas city of Ft. Worth was found dead Saturday at the age of 59. The cause of death appears to be from a self-inflicted gunshot wound according to local authorities, the North Texas newspaper Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.
Police found Thomas Anable, who was the president of Fairness Fort Worth, at Dutch Branch Park around 8:30 a.m. on Saturday. Police received a call about a dead man in the park. When they arrived, they found Anable’s body. According to an investigation, the activist died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound but officials did not reveal any further information.
"Obviously, it was a tremendous shock and loss," Jon Nelson, one of the founders of Fairness Fort Worth, said. "We plan to continue with the group to solidify his legacy."
Anable was a witness to the 2009 Rainbow Lounge raid. Members of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and Fort Worth police carried out the raid on the gay bar and many of the establishment’s customers were arrested for public intoxication and police claimed that patrons made sexual passes at them.
The raid was especially galling and received national attention because it was exactly on the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York City that ignited the modern gay rights movement. The police later apologized and made efforts to reach out to the local LGBT community.
The incident was one of the main reasons for the creation of Fairness Fort Worth. Able had been the organization’s president since June 2010.
Many have praised Anable for his efforts in protecting the LGBT community. In June he worked with Arlington, Texas, police in the investigation of a group of teens who were suspected of targeting gays by spray-painting anti-gay epithets and messages on their cars and houses.
"His leadership and tireless advocacy became a shining example for others who strive to make their corner of the world a better place," David Mack Henderson, treasurer of Fairness Fort Worth. "Between the amazing advances that he successfully championed and those who were inspired by him to forge ahead on similar paths Tom leaves a legacy that will burn bright for ages to come."
The Human Rights Campaign, where Anable served as a regional representative, released a statement praising Anable for "making the lives of LGBT people better" The statement took note of his work for LGBT youth locally in HRC’s "Welcoming Schools program."
Several people left comments on Anable’s Facebook page about his sudden death. "Today and in the days head we will miss our friend," Henderson wrote on his Facebook page. "We are grateful that he blessed our lives, thankful that he gave so much so freely."
The Dallas Voice notes that the Rainbow Lounge will host a candlelight vigil in his honor on Wednesday.