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Hundreds Mourn Bryan Higgins in Duboce Park

Adam L Brinklow | August 13, 2014 | Lifestyle Story City Life

Bryan Higgins—a gay man and member of the city's Radical Faerie community—reportedly died today, after being admitted to San Francisco General Hospital on Sunday. His family asked that he be taken off life support at 3:33 this afternoon. At the same time, roughly 250 mourners gathered in Duboce Park to mark his passing.

Higgins, a 31-year-old self-described "starving artist" who was recently married, was discovered unconscious and critically injured at the corner of Duboce and Church on Sunday morning. Police have now labeled the incident a homicide. Asked if it was being investigated as a possible hate crime, San Francisco Police Department spokesperson Albie Esparza said, "We have no idea, because we have no information about what might have happened."

Radical Faeries are a counter-cultural LGBT movement with roots in the late 1970s. "Some gay men started looking for a spiritual outlet for their sexual orientation," says Jesse Oliver Sanford, a friend of Higgins who wrote his Ph. D. dissertation at UC Berkeley about Radical Faeries and who also identifies as a Radical Faerie. "If the earth is sacred, and our bodies are part of the earth, then doesn't that mean our bodies and our sex have a sacred element too? People call it a tribe: hippies, burners, rainbow families, all that. It's a very communal movement." Sanford estimated roughly 1,000 to 2,000 Radical Faeries in the city, adding, "Feather's death is going to affect a lot of people."

At the vigil, friends of Higgins joined hands in a circle around a hilltop, a table was piled with flowers, candles, burning sage, and feathers (Higgins went by the name Feather Lynn), and mourners laid out a rainbow tarp. Friends led prayers invoking the elements: "The earth is not just the ground under our feet. It's also the trembling in my voice, and the blood that runs through my heart."

Mourners observed a 10-minute moment of silence at 3:33 PM, when family members turned off the machines keeping Higgins alive. After the circle parted, friends stayed to comfort one another. Kindergarten-age children at the playground 30 feet away looked on, curious. "What's happening?" one little girl asked. "Some people are remembering someone else," came the reply, after some thought.

Police are requesting help from the public. There were no suspects of as this afternoon and no indication what Higgins was doing prior to the assault. It appears no weapon was used. Police say they are looking for a white man in his 20s or 30s wearing a black hoodie, spotted by Muni cameras around the time of the crime. "We're asking anyone with a business or residential surveillance system around the 100 block of Church to review tapes from that night," said Esparza. Anyone with information about the crime may anonymously call SFPD's tip line, 415-573-4444 or text 847411.

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