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Gay Activists Kicked out of Council Hearing on Rainbow Lounge Raid.

July 15, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Discrimination, Headline, LGBT News

While there is no reason the average person should watch the entire 6+ hours of the City Counsel meeting during which the Ft. Worth raid of the Rainbow Lounge was discussed, it does have its dramatic moments. City Council Woman, Kathleen Hicks, delivered an eloquent speech around the 0:13:50 mark.

As a council representative of the club in which this unfortunate incident took place and as an African American female who experiences discrimination every day of my life, I fill it is incumbent upon me to stand up, not only for the citizens I represent, but for all.  I want to thank each and everyone of you that have emailed or called me regarding this incident.

***

I also feel very strongly that not only the police, but all city employees, including myself, must receive education on diversity and inclusion and acceptance of all within our community.

Thereafter, District 9 Councilman, Joel Burns, advised that he has received over 1,000 emails and telephone calls indicating concern over the raid.  While he believes the Chief Police is doing a thorough job, he agrees an independent investigation is necessary.

But the real fun began shortly after the 25 minute mark when the mayor attempted to move away from the Rainbow Lounge talks and continue with the agenda items.  Much to the dismay of many present, the City of Ft. Worth had placed the Rainbow Lounge raid last on the agenda.  Audience members, frustrated that LGBT issues are last again, interrupted the mayor to request that the Rainbow Lounge Raid be moved to the front of the agenda.

The mayor advised that there are many other important things on the agenda that must be discussed prior to the alleged human rights violations.  A review of the agenda indicates that an Agreement for Auction Services, the purchase of a truck, veterinary supplies and other such items took precedence.  The LGBT activists present then began chanting, “Hear us now!”

Discontent amongst those present continued to esculate and ultimately resulted in the removal of two men from the meeting by marshals.  The request to move the Rainbow Lounge discussions to the front of the agenda was denied.

Upon being asked to apologize for a man [Chad Gibson] being hospitalized.  The mayor responded by saying:

If you want an apology from the mayor of Fort Worth: I am sorry about what happened in Fort Worth.

Three hours later, Jonathan Nelson, a Ft. Worth attorney, opened the discussions on behalf of the LGBT community.  He began by reading an email he received calling him a “meth head” and “fudge backer” which email further asked how he can find time to sodomize his partner while doing interviews with the Dallas Voice, working with the LGBT Chamber and picking up “rent boys.”  He explained:

That is what it can mean to be gay in Ft. Worth.

Many more speakers followed, all with their own stories and experiences.  The investigation into the incedent is still underway.

Since the raid, Officer Sara Straten has been appointed as a liaison to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.  Perhaps progress is being made.

VIDEO OF THE ENTIRE MEETING:


Launch in external player

Kicked out for a Kiss in El Paso – No Tacos for you “Faggots”

July 09, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Discrimination, Featured, LGBT News

elpasoLast night a not-so-unusual event happened at Chico’s Tacos in El Paso, Texas.  While waiting to order, two men gave each other a simple kiss.  Private security guards with All [Heterosexual] American International Security found their masculinity threatened, approached the men and advised them that they they, “didn’t allow that faggot stuff to go on there.”

The men were asked to leave; however, Carlos Diaz de Leon, one of the men in the group, feared what was happening and called police.  One El Paso police officer arrived about an hour later and advised the men who were kissing that they could be cited with homosexual conduct.

In spite of “homosexual conduct” not being a crime in the U.S. or the State of Texas, and in spite of the fact that El Paso has anti-discrimination ordinances which include sexual orientation, the officer still believed that he could cite the men for a crime… the crime of kissing.  While I can almost brush off the security guards’ response to the kiss because security guards in Texas are near minimum wage earners with little training and nominal education requirements, the actions of the El Paso police officer are unconscionable. This is an epic failure on the part of the police department.  Officers are apparently untrained in what is a crime and what is not a crime, not provided with the city’s anti-discrimination policies and uninterested in protecting “faggot stuff” such as kissing or holding hands in public.  See: Two men kissing kicked out of East Side Chico’s Tacos.

At this point, you may think you’re watching a television show rather than dealing with real life, but as mentioned, these sorts of events aren’t uncommon in Texas, or even other parts of the nation.

This isn’t the first time contracted security guards and police have butted heads with the LGBT community over public affection.  Just a few months back, security guards at Rolling Oaks Mall in San Antonio demanded a lesbian couple leave the mall immediately by way of the closest entrance because of a kiss.  The two women left the mall by way of a nearby door; however found themselves on the opposite side of the mall from their vehicle.  Upon returning to the mall to go out the entrance where their car was located, the girls were approached by San Antonio Police Officers.  One of the girls was severely beaten by police for “resisting arrest” and charged with criminal trespass.

More recently, Ft. Worth police and Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission officers have come under intense scrutiny from the LGBT community for their handling of a raid on the Rainbow Lounge.  During that raid, Chad Gibson was critically injured while being taken into custody.

Therefore, it comes as no surprise to this Texan that again, those retained to protect and serve are prosecuting and suspecting LGBT people.  What is shocking is that no one outside of the LGBT community (including our straight allies) recognizes these events as an obvious abuse of power, infringement on human rights and disgustingly discriminatory.

What Happens in Ft. Worth Isn’t Staying There.

July 06, 2009 By: texasman Category: Commentary, Featured, Thought of the Gay

Stonewall, Texas StyleAs a witness to the events following the Rainbow Lounge Raid, I have wondered what happened.  My father worked in the police force for much of my life, and so I had that perspective as well as the perspective of a gay man.  Several scenarios played out in my mind.  I wanted my first contribution to the conversation here to be an exploration of some of those scenarios.

I think we all know the basic facts.  The police came to Rainbow Lounge.  While the police were at Rainbow Lounge, several patrons were arrested for public intoxication.  One of those arrested, Chad Gibson, was injured and had to be taken to the hospital.  Within those “basic” facts the real story exists.

Scenario 1:  Saturday afternoon several police officers got in a mood to rough up somebody.  The fags were always an easy target, especially in Fort Worth, which, at least in their minds, is still pretty much of a country town.  It could have as easily been a group of Mexican-Americans or African-Americans, but fags were an easier target, as they usually shut up and remain invisible.  So they planned to go to a local gay bar and rough up some of the queers, but, to cover it, they stopped by a couple of other bars first.

Scenario 2:  The police were doing routine bar checks.  They had stopped at two bars already and arrested a few people.  They arrived at the gay bar with nothing specific planned.  After entering the bar, they were attacked by some or all of the people in the bar, one of the police called for back-up and other officers entered the bar blazing, at which time several bar patrons were arrested for public intoxication, as well as police harassment.  During the ensuing chaos a couple of the bar patrons are injured, one critically.

Scenario 3:  The police were doing a routine bar check.  They arrived at the bar and things were going very normally.  Suddenly one of the policemen was touched in a way that he felt inappropriate, even sexual.  He had never dealt with a gay person before and, whether the “touch” was intentional or not, he panicked and felt sexually vulnerable.  He attacked the bar patron and began to rough him up.  The officer called for help believing that he had reason to fear attacks from other bar patrons.  The officers that entered didn’t know the situation and began to take control of the situation by arresting patrons and treating some of them roughly.

Scenario 4:  Someone in either the leadership of FWPD or TABC decided that the fags needed to be taught a lesson and ordered his staff to rough up the gays and be sure they remember their place in the community.  The police arrived with those orders and began to carry them out.

Scenario 5:  The police arrive at the bar and find a patron so drunk he can’t stand up.  While observing him, he falls down and hits his head.  They arrest him for public intoxication, during which time he begins to vomit, which the officer attributes to his level of intoxication.  Because he is ill and has injuries, they then turn him over to EMS so that he can be treated.  During the same event they find several others that they suspect of public intoxication and arrest them also.

Scenario 6: The police arrived to do a routine bar check, the third of the night.  Upon entering the bar they discovered several people who they considered intoxicated, so they began arresting them.  During the arrests one of the patrons, not realizing what was going on, maybe even confused because he was just enjoying himself, questioned an officer about what was going on.  The officer thinking he wasn’t being respectful enough attempted to physically push the patron, at which time the patron stumbled.  The officer then grabbed the patron and shoved him to the ground, at which time he hit his head.

I could keep creating these scenarios in my head.  I honestly don’t know which one happened.  But from listening to the police defending themselves, and the witnesses to the events, I am really saddened and upset by the whole thing.  This is an event that should never have happened for so many reasons.

The officers’ timing, on that national celebration of Stonewall, was completely inexplicable.  The injury of Chad Gibson is totally over the top, considering we are simply talking about public intoxication at best, and not some out of control suspect, who was threatening the lives of others.

I have visited the bar since the event.  It doesn’t seem like a place where riots would start.  The patrons seem like pretty normal people to me.  Those I have visited with confess confusion and anger at the events.  Most of all, they also wonder what really happened.  Not just the actual events, but what was going on in the minds of the police and the patrons.

It is important at this juncture for the LGBTQ community in DFW and around the world to not let anger or hysteria win out.  We must use this moment to pressure the FWPD, TABC, State of Texas, and even the United States government to change themselves and the world we live in.  It is terrible that Chad had to be injured and this event had to occur to bring about the kind of movement I have witnessed in the last few days.  At the same time, the FWPD, city of Fort Worth, TABC, state of Texas, and United States needs to take a hard look at themselves and ask how they have contributed to the fear and pain that is so real in the gay community.

I hope this becomes a wake up call for our community.  I let fear rule my life for too long.  We have to stop the fear by stopping the hate and ignorance.

MarlinMarlin: You may remember Marlin from an earlier episode of Closet Talk. Now, he’s joining the jaysays.com team as our Ft. Worth correspondence and keeping us up to date on the bar raid. Since coming out of the closet, Marlin has worked to find ways to contribute to his new community and jaysays.com is happy to have him here working toward human rights.

Editor’s Note: I’m so thrilled to have Marlin on writing at jaysays.com.  Marlin is a DFW resident and will be following the Rainbow Lounge raid and reporting back to us on the events as they unfold.  Please give Marlin a big gay welcome!

LGBT Lessons for Straight People: For What It’s Worth.

June 30, 2009 By: geekgirl Category: Featured, LGBT Lessons for Straight People

Gay EducationOver the last few days I have watched the story of the police raid on the Rainbow Lounge in Fort Worth, Texas unfold. Unlike my fellow blogger and friend Jay, I don’t live in Texas. In fact, I have never been to Texas.

I joined the Facebook group, I’ve read blogs from the Huffington Post, the Washington Blade, local and national news sites about this story, trying to understand the real facts of what happened. I noticed a trend in a few comments and realized that I, too, had revealed yet another form of prejudice.

It looks something like this.

What do you expect? It’s Texas.

I’d like to pretend I’m above stereotyping but I wasn’t. And while in my mind it was meant teasingly, that doesn’t mean it’s ok. Don’t believe I’m capable of that? Oh, but I am.  On the Sunday morning after this police raid, a Texas church invited it’s congregation to bring a gun to church day. I made the sarcastic remark, to Jay in an email that, after what happened at the Rainbow Lounge, no wonder it’s legal to carry a loaded weapon in Texas and maybe people need to take them to gay bars. (Don’t try this at home. Not even in Texas.)

Those of us who think we live in what we like to believe are more progressive states are thinking, “This couldn’t happen where I live.” “This kind of thing only happens in the South.” “This kind of thing only happens in Red States.”

This kind of thing happens everywhere. A few facts, as always, from Geekgirl.

Approximately 55 to 60% of Texans support same sex marriage or civil unions.

So how does that compare to a supposedly Blue State like my own, Wisconsin? We have two Democratic Senators, a Democratic Governor, the first out lesbian Congresswoman, Tammy Baldwin. Here’s how.

In 2006, almost 60% of Wisconsinites approved that states amendment. But less than three years later, recent polls indicate that percentage would be significantly lower now. Only 55% of people in a nationwide poll conducted by Quinnipiac University said they were opposed to gay marriage last month. And 57% said they favored allowing gay couples to form civil unions that would provide marriage-like rights.

Not much different. Oh wait. Do they have this law in Texas?

Wisconsin is a state that imposes criminal penalties on residents if they enter a marriage outside the state that would be prohibited in the state. The law was created to prohibit underage couples from crossing state lines to marry, but it could be interpreted to apply to same-sex marriages.

That’s right folks. If you are gay and get legally married somewhere else, you could be a criminal in Wisconsin.

But how does Wisconsin compare to Texas with respect to crimes against gays and lesbians?

Right now, about 80 miles from very liberal Madison, there is a Christian group suing to burn a school library book about a gay teenager who experiences homophobia and bullying. You might be thinking, but that isn’t beating up people. No. But there could be a gay teenager for whom that book would be a lifesaver.

Last summer, two gay people were attacked coming out of a bar in one of our nearby, liberal suburbs. Last fall, my husband and I went to the Nov. 15th protest against the results of Proposition 8.  I was waiting for my husband to run and put more money in the parking meter and we lagged behind the march for a few moments. A young man came up to me and asked what was going on. When I explained, he said, “Disgusting faggots,” spit on the ground and walked away. I was so stunned I couldn’t even respond. I was still stuck with “In Madison? We don’t have those kind of people here.”

Oh yes we do. And so do you.

If I were not involved in gay activism, I can tell you what my reaction to this news story would be.

The requisite liberal moment of compassion, outrage and smugness.

Then I would have moved on. “That’s awful. Honey, what do you want to do today, it’s Sunday?” We acknowledge these terrible things that happen but we don’t feel them. Too many terrible things happen in a day. And if we aren’t gay, it doesn’t get past our liberal intelligence and politically correct emotional response.

But what if you are LGBT?

I have a young friend, who is centuries wiser than her mere 19 years of age,  who wrote this to me in a recent letter. I was so moved, so heartbroken, that I am keeping this letter for life.

I mean, just TODAY I heard (John’s)  friend ran away from home just for being gay because his parents were going to send him back to  (a Middle Eastern country) to probably get him stoned to death – just for being gay. He’s not even trans! He didn’t even sleep with a guy! He was just honest!-An hour later, my transfriend posts another note on his facebook crying for help/venting his frustration with his oblivious family who forces him in dresses, to which his family of friends all responded with speechlessness and ‘less than three‘ hearts. -Three hours later, I’m reading about my gay friend’s exboyfriend who committed suicide, a year ago tomorrow, for being some kind of member of the LGBT community, too young to figure out which.

This happens every day to me, to everybody, everyday, everywhere.

We hear about these things in our own personal localized lives as much as most adults hear about wanted criminals for theft, rape, kidnap, and murder on the local nightly news. Only, we know the victims personally and we know the suspects just as well, if not better then the friends – who, for most, ARE our only family – who we lose in these hate crimes of varying degrees.
Actually, I think the only difference between seeing a drawing of a criminal on your local news every night and hearing about things like that every day is when it’s personal, it’s not nearly as desensitizing, but still just as frequent. So even though you see it happen all the time, you don’t think of it less because of that.
(Emphasis added)

Hate does not have boundaries. Not by state, religion, political party or sexual orientation.

For one minute. An entire 60 seconds, watch the clock, you are gay. Let it soak in. Think of how much you love your heterosexual partner. Only now, the only difference is that your sweetie is the same gender. Would you be willing to do the experiment of pretending to be gay, in public, with a friend of the same gender, gay or straight? Would you let your body language betray that you are lovers, not friends? Would you show affection to that person, publicly?

Be honest.