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Md. man charged in stabbing outside D.C. gay bar

police, stabbing, MPD, Metropolitan Police Department

A Maryland man is charged in a stabbing that reportedly occurred outside Bachelor’s Mill. (Photo by Cliff; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

D.C. police on Tuesday charged a 22-year-old man with assault with a dangerous weapon for allegedly stabbing another man on the street outside the Bachelor’s Mill, a gay bar at 1104 8th St., S.E. near the Washington Navy Yard.

A police statement says officers arrested Terrill Terry Jr. of La Plata, Md., on Tuesday, Feb. 4 after obtaining a D.C. Superior Court warrant that identified the weapon as a knife.

The statement says the incident began about 2:15 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 2, when officers responded to a call for help and discovered an adult male had been struck with a bottle at an establishment on the 1100 block of 8th St., S.E.

Although the statement doesn’t identify the establishment, a source familiar with the incident said the initial altercation took place inside the Bachelor’s Mill.

“The suspect fled the scene and engaged in a second altercation in the 1100 block of 7th St., S.E., where he assaulted a second adult male with a sharp item,” the statement says. “The suspect then fled the scene. Both victims received treatment at local hospitals for their injuries.”

Court records show Terry was being held without bond pending a preliminary hearing scheduled or 10:30 a.m. Friday, Feb. 7.

05
Feb
2014

D.C. man sentenced to 7 years in anti-gay stabbing

Howard Theater, gay news, Washington Blade

Attackers called 16-year-old victim anti-gay names in a 2012 stabbing outside the Howard Theatre. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

A D.C. Superior Court judge on June 28 sentenced District resident Ali Jackson, 20, to seven-and-a-half years in prison for the June 2012 stabbing of a 16-year-old gay male outside the city’s Howard Theatre.

A statement released by the Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia says prosecutors classified the incident as a hate crime based on evidence that Jackson made threatening statements and anti-gay slurs at the time of the attack.

“Violence fueled by hate tears at the fabric of our society,” said U.S. Attorney for D.C. Ronald Machen in the statement. “As this prison sentence demonstrates, in the District of Columbia, we have zero tolerance for violent crimes driven by ignorant prejudice.”

Jackson pled guilty in January to a charge of assault with intent to kill in connection with the stabbing incident. The sentence handed down against him on June 28 by Judge Patricia Broderick came after two others involved in the incident pled guilty in March to a charge of simple assault.

Police and prosecutors said Ali Jackson’s sister, Alvonica Jackson, 26, and her boyfriend, Desmond Campbell, 34, held the victim by his arms and neck, preventing him from fleeing as Ali Jackson stabbed him with a knife three times – in the left arm, the left side of his back, and the left leg. Alvonica Jackson and Campbell also hurled slurs at the victim during the attack, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office statement.

Alvonica Jackson was sentenced earlier this year to 360 days of incarceration with all but 30 days suspended. She had also been charged with second-degree theft for stealing money at the Howard Theatre. Campbell was sentenced to 180 days in jail with all but 30 days suspended. The suspended part of the sentences for both is contingent on their complying with the terms of two years of probation following their release from jail, to which they were also sentenced.

02
Jul
2013

Arrest made in pizzeria attack on drag performer

Miles DeNiro, Manny & Olga's, hate crime, gay news, Washington Blade

Miles Denaro, 24, says he was attacked by two women who called him a ‘tranny’ and ‘faggot.’ (Screen capture)

D.C. police announced Tuesday night that they have arrested one of two female suspects wanted for the June 23 assault against a gay male drag performer inside a pizzeria on 14th Street, N.W. that was captured on video and created an uproar in the LGBT community.

In a statement released shortly after 8 p.m. Tuesday, police said 28-year-old Raymone Harding of Gaithersburg, Md., was arrested earlier that day and charged with simple assault in connection with the attack against Miles Denaro, 24.

Denaro told police and the Blade that the two women dragged him by his hair across the floor at Manny & Olga’s pizza carry out restaurant at 1841 14th St., N.W., while they punched and kicked him in the face and body. He said the assault began after the women made fun of his makeup and one of them touched his face and the other slapped him.

He said he was dressed as a woman when he entered the restaurant shortly after finishing a drag performance at the nearby Black Cat nightclub.

A video taken of the incident, which was posted on at least three websites, including briefly on YouTube, shows bystanders laughing and cheering while employees of the restaurant look on without trying to stop the altercation.

Denaro said the women called him a “tranny” and “faggot.”

The second of the two women implicated in the assault filed a police report on the night of the incident accusing Denaro of assaulting her by biting her on her thigh. Denaro said he bit the woman in self-defense as she was pulling out his hair and the other woman held him down on the floor.

“At that time, with my face on the ground in her legs, the only thing to help get out of it was to bite her,” Denaro told the Blade.

The police report filed by the second woman identifies her as Rachel Manna Sahle, 22, also of Gaithersburg.

The police statement announcing the arrest says the case remains under investigation.

hate crime, Manny & Olga's, gay news, Washington Blade

A video of the altercation involving drag performer Miles Denaro early Sunday morning at Manny & Olga’s pizzeria on 14th Street, N.W., shows these two women assaulting Denaro as one of them drags him by his hair across the floor. (Screen captures)

LGBT activists noted that the assault against Denaro was one of six incidents over an eight-day period beginning June 21 in which two transgender women were shot and wounded, a lesbian was shot to death, two other trans women were stabbed and another was sexually assaulted. Police said the sexual assault took place after the woman got into the suspect’s car at the time she met him on the street in the 300 block of 61st Street, N.E. about 3:30 a.m. Saturday, June 29.

Police have said only one of the six incidents were being investigated as a possible hate crime. The other cases appear to be linked to robbery attempts or personal disputes, police said.

Some LGBT activists dispute that assessment, saying they believe several of the victims were targeted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

03
Jul
2013

2nd suspect arrested in assault on drag performer

drag, Miles DeNiro, Manny & Olga's, hate crime, gay news, Washington Blade

Drag performer Miles Denaro, 24, says he was attacked by two women who called him a ‘tranny’ and ‘faggot.’ (Screen capture)

D.C. police on July 3 arrested the second of two women accused of assaulting a gay male drag performer inside a carry out pizza restaurant in Northwest D.C. that was captured on video and created an uproar in the LGBT community.

Authorities charged Rachel Manna Sahle, 22, with simple assault and attempted second-degree theft for allegedly trying to steal the victim’s purse, according to a charging document filed in court by the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Raymone Harding, 28, who was charged one day earlier with a single count of simple assault, and Sahle appeared at a D.C. Superior Court arraignment on July 3, where the two pled not guilty to the charges filed against them.

Judge Karen Howze released them on personal recognizance pending trial on condition that they undergo drug testing, report to the court’s Pre-Trial Services Agency, and stay away from Miles Denaro, 24, the drag performer the two are accused of assaulting.

Charging documents filed in court identify Harding as a nurse.

Howze ordered Sahle and Harding to return to court on Sept. 5 for a status hearing before Judge Juliet McKenna, who will take over the case at that time. Court records identify the two women as residents of Gaithersburg, Md.

Drag performer Denaro, a D.C. resident, told the Blade he identifies as a gay man. He told police and the Blade that the two women dragged him by his hair across the floor at Manny & Olga’s pizza carry out restaurant at 1841 14th St., N.W., while they punched and kicked him in the face and body.  A police report says the incident took place shortly after 3 a.m. on Sunday, June 23.

drag, hate crime, Manny & Olga's, gay news, Washington Blade

A video of the altercation involving drag performer Miles DeNiro early Sunday morning at Manny & Olga’s pizzeria on 14th Street, N.W., shows these two women assaulting DeNiro as one of them drags him by his hair across the floor. (Screen captures)

Denaro said he was dressed as a woman when he entered the restaurant shortly after finishing a drag performance at the nearby Black Cat nightclub. He said the two women started the altercation by making fun of his makeup, with one of them, Sahle, touching his face. He said one of them slapped him in the face after he demanded that they leave him alone. He said the women called him a “tranny” and “faggot” as the incident unfolded.

LGBT activists who watched the video posted online have expressed concern that employees at the restaurant didn’t intervene and, according to police, did not call police while the incident unfolded.

A D.C. police arrest affidavit filed in court says Harding and Sahle gave a different account of what happened than that given by Denaro. It says Harding described the incident as a fight “among several intoxicated customers.”

The affidavit says Sahle accused Denaro of biting her on her thigh in the midst of the fight. She said he told her she would get AIDS as a result of the bite, according to the affidavit.

Denaro told the Blade he bit Sahle in self-defense while he was pinned down on the floor by Harding and while Sahle was pulling out his hair. He said he informed the two women he has HIV after he realized his head was bleeding from injuries he received from the assault.

The affidavit says police decided to charge Sahle and Harding in the case after police investigators observed the video taken by one of the customers at the restaurant that was posted on at least three websites and after viewing a second video provided by Manny & Olga’s that was taken by the restaurant’s security surveillance cameras.

“Defendant 1 [Sahle] was face to face with the complainant and attempted to snatch his purse and then grabbed the complainant’s hair,” the police affidavit says. “Defendant 1 pulled the complainant several feet by his hair…then let go of the hair and threw several punches at the complainant’s head,” it says, citing police observation of both videos.

The affidavit says Denaro spit at Defendant 2 [Harding] after Harding “grabbed the complainant’s wrists and pushed him against a wall in the corner of the store, holding him against the wall.”

At that point, Sahle “grabbed the complainant’s hair and both Defendant 1 and Defendant 2 began punching the complainant in the face and head,” the affidavit says.

The incident involving the alleged assault against Denaro is one of six incidents in D.C. over an eight-day period beginning June 21 in which two transgender women were shot and wounded, a lesbian was shot to death, two other trans women were stabbed and another was sexually assaulted.

Police said only one of the six incidents — the non-fatal shooting of a transgender woman — is being investigated as a possible hate crime. Police officials have said the others were linked to robbery attempts or a dispute between the suspect and victim. Police have not said what they believe the motive was that triggered the assault against Denaro.

08
Jul
2013

New York men attacked in alleged hate crime

Hate Crime, Babylon, New York, Gay News, Washington Blade

Shane Buckley, 18, Justin Buckley, 17, Gregory Gilbert, 20, and Nicholas Battaglia, 18, all from Oceanside, N.Y., have been charged with third-degree assault as a hate crime. (Mugshots July 22, 2013)

BABYLON, N.Y. — Police in Suffolk County, N.Y., say four men allegedly used anti-gay slurs against two men they attacked near a train station on July 20.

News 12 Long Island reported Nicholas Bagattallia, Greg Gilbert and Justin and Shane Buckley of Oceanside, N.Y., attacked the two men after they asked them how to get to the Babylon Long Island Railroad station. The four suspects reportedly punched, kicked and shoved their victims while shouting anti-gay slurs against them.

One of the two victims was admitted to a hospital in nearby West Islip in serious condition.

Prosecutors have charged the four suspects with gang assault and assault as a hate crime in connection with the attack.

24
Jul
2013

Gang member accepts plea in anti-gay attack

National LGBT Bar Association, Gay News, Washington Blade

A New York City judge on sentenced a gang member to seven years in prison in connection with an anti-gay attack. (Photo via Wikimedia)

BRONX, N.Y.—A New York City judge on Aug. 9 sentenced a gang member to seven years in prison in connection with a 2010 anti-gay attack.

The New York Daily News reported Bronx Supreme Court Justice Steven Barrett sentenced Nelson Falu after he accepted a plea bargain for his role in the beating and torture of two teenage boys and a 30-year-old man.

Prosecutors contend Falu and seven other members of the “Latin King Goonies” sodomized two of their victims with a plunger while they used homophobic slurs against them inside a home in the borough’s Morris Heights neighborhood in October 2010. The gang members also allegedly used a cigarette lighter to burn their victims.

The Daily News reported two of Falu’s other alleged co-conspirators have also accepted plea bargains.

14
Aug
2013

Anti-gay attacks spark concern in NYC

Gay News, Washington Blade, Christine Quinn, Gay New York

New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (Photo by Thomas Good / NLN via Wikimedia Commons)

NEW YORK—A series of attacks against LGBT New Yorkers in Manhattan over the last two weeks has sparked concern among local advocates.

The Anti-Violence Project said four men shouted anti-gay slurs as they attacked Nick Porto and Kevin Atkins near Madison Square Garden on May 5. The agency said the New York Police Department has arrested a suspect in connection with a second anti-gay attack that took place in Union Square on May 7.

Two men reportedly shouted anti-gay slurs as they attacked a man who was leaving a West Village bar on May 8. The NYPD arrested two men who allegedly attacked two gay men near a PATH station in Herald Square around 5 a.m. on May 9.

“I am outraged by this string of assaults,” New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a lesbian, said in a statement issued May 10. “These vicious assaults are not reflective of the diversity that defines New York City.”

16
May
2013

2 more trans women attacked in violent month in D.C.

Earline Budd, transgender activist, Washington DC

Transgender activist Earline Budd, who organized a Friday meeting to respond to anti-trans violence, said the slaying of a local lesbian stunned those in the LGBT community who knew her. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

One transgender woman was shot and another was sexually assaulted in separate incidents in D.C. early Saturday morning, June 29.

The two attacks came less than 24 hours after about 50 LGBT activists met to discuss ways to respond to a rash of violent incidents against LGBT people in the city since June 21, including the June 22 murder of a lesbian who was shot to death in what police said was a botched robbery.

Police said the shooting death of Malika Stover, 35, in the 1300 block of Stevens Road, S.E. didn’t appear to be linked to her sexual orientation.

But transgender activist Earline Budd, who organized the Friday night, June 28 “community response” meeting to address the recent incidents, said Stover’s slaying stunned those in the LGBT community who knew her.

“This is really putting all of us on edge,” Budd told the Blade. “You’re seeing all of these incidents happening in such a short period of time.”

The non-fatal shooting and the unrelated sexual assault of the two transgender women on Saturday, June 29, were the fifth and sixth violent assaults against a total of four transgender women, one gay man dressed in drag, and a lesbian, Stover, since June 21.

In the June 21 incident, transgender woman Bree Wallace, 29, was stabbed multiple times in an abandoned house at 3038 Stanton Rd., S.E.

D.C. police have since arrested 23-year-old Michael McBride of Southeast D.C. for the attack, charging him with assault with intent to kill. Police told the Washington Post the stabbing was triggered by a dispute between Wallace and McBride, who knew each other.

“It’s been a series of horrible incidents in the past few weeks in terms of what’s going on against the transgender community,” said Hassan Naveed, co-chair of Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV).

“And tonight we really built momentum to combat the hate violence in this city,” he said, in commenting on the June 28 meeting at the LGBT Center. “We can see the energy in the community and people really coming together to discuss these issues and acting on this,” said Naveed.

Among those attending the meeting was D.C. Police Capt. Edward Delgado, director of the police division that oversees the department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit, and two GLLU officers. D.C. Council member Tommy Wells also stopped by the meeting.

“I’m completely open to learning from you,” said Wells, who chairs the Council’s Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety. “We make progress and then sometimes we take two steps back,” he said in referring to efforts to curtail violence against the LGBT community.

One of the more tense moments of the meeting came when Earl Hooks, a public relations representative for Manny & Olga’s pizzeria chain, answered questions about a 2 a.m. incident on June 23 in which a gay man in drag was attacked at the Manny & Olga’s at 1841 14th St., N.W.

The incident, which was captured on a video that went viral online, involved two women who could be seen on the video dragging Miles Denaro, 24, across the floor by his hair as they punched and kicked him in the head and body. Denaro said he went to the pizzeria to take out some food after performing in drag under his stage name Heidi Glum at the nearby Black Cat nightclub.

An unidentified man taking the video is heard laughing and shouting along with other customers in the Manny & Olga’s restaurant as the two women assaulted Denaro and as blood could be seen dripping over his face from a head wound. According to Denaro, as many as five or six employees stood by watching and didn’t take steps to break up the altercation or call police. He said the two women who assaulted him called him “tranny” and “faggot.”

“I’m here right now to apologize for anything that is harmful to this community,” Hooks told the meeting.

Gay activist Nick McCoy, who helped organize the meeting, said he contacted Manny & Olga’s and invited the owners to send someone to the meeting to talk about the incident.

Several activists, including D.C. Center Executive Director David Mariner, pressed Hooks to explain why the employees apparently failed to take steps to stop the attack.

“Our policy is to not touch anyone who comes into the store,” he said. “From what I understand, a call was made to the police.”

Police sources, however, have said no call was received from Manny & Olga’s at the time of the incident.

Delgado told the Blade at the meeting that police have obtained warrants for the arrest of the two women on a charge of simple assault. He said the women had not been apprehended as of the time of the meeting.

Denaro told the Blade he wasn’t seriously injured.

In addition to Budd, speakers at the meeting included Naveed of GLOV; Rick Rosendall, president of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance; Nico Quintana of the D.C. Trans Coalition; Ruby Corado of Casa Ruby; Sterling Washington, director of the Mayor’s Office of GLBT Affairs; and Cyndee Clay, executive director of Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive (HIPS).

Officer Juanita Foreman of the GLLU gave a presentation on steps citizens can take, including members of the LGBT community, to avoid danger while walking on the streets.

Mariner said the D.C. Center would make available to the community a compilation of proposals developed at the meeting to address anti-LGBT violence in the city.

The following summary of the six incidents involving attacks against members of the LGBT community between June 21 and June 29 is based on information released by D.C. police. As of early this week police had not classified any of the incidents as a hate crime, although a source familiar with police thought the incident at Manny & Olga’s would be listed as a hate crime:

1. Transgender woman Bree Wallace, 29, was attacked and stabbed multiple times in an abandoned house at 3038 Stanton Rd., S.E. about 1 a.m. Thursday, June 21. A suspect was arrested and charged with assault with intent to kill.

2. Malika Stover, 35, identified by Earline Budd as an out lesbian known in the LGBT community, was fatally shot about 2 a.m. Saturday, June 22, in the 1300 block of Stevens Road, S.E. Police say she suffered from multiple gunshot wounds and the motive appeared to be robbery.

3. Gay male drag performer Miles Denaro, 24, was attacked and beaten by two female suspects about 2 a.m. Sunday, June 23, inside Manny & Olga’s pizzeria at 1841 14th St., N.W.

4. A transgender woman was shot in the buttocks in the 500 block of Eastern Avenue, N.E., about 6 a.m. Thursday, June 27. Police say the motive appears to be robbery.

5. A transgender woman was sexually assaulted by an unidentified male after accepting a ride in the suspect’s car while walking in the 300 block of 61st Street, N.E. about 3:30 a.m. Saturday, June 29. Police listed the incident as a first-degree sexual assault.

6. A transgender woman was shot and sustained non-life-threatening injuries while walking in the area of 5th and K Street, N.E., about 4 a.m. Saturday, June 29. Police said the shooting took place while two male suspects attempted to rob her.

01
Jul
2013

YouTube accused of ‘protecting’ anti-gay church

Brent Childers, gay news, Washington Blade

Brent Childers, executive director of Faith in America. (Photo courtesy of Childers)

The LGBT advocacy group Faith In America says YouTube has refused to explain why it removed from its website a video produced by the group about a 22-year-old gay man who says he was held against his will for four months and assaulted by members of a North Carolina church that considers homosexuality a form of “demonic possession.”

Brent Childers, executive director of Faith In America, said he believes the Spindale, N.C., based Word of Faith Fellowship church misled YouTube into thinking the video infringed upon its religious freedom.

Childers and others who have monitored the church say it has the characteristics of a cult and exerts extraordinary control over the lives of its members and their children. They say Word of Faith Fellowship, which operates on a 40-acre campus, has a long history of abusive treatment of gays.

“It is really dumbfounding,” Childers said. “YouTube allows a controversial video that pokes fun at Islam. But here we have a video in which a person is telling his own personal knowledge of how this bizarre Christian church treats gay youth or those suspected of being gay, and they remove the video.”

Attempts by the Washington Blade to reach YouTube, which is owned by the search engine giant Google, have been unsuccessful. A YouTube spokesperson couldn’t be reached by phone and the company didn’t respond to email sent to an address listed for “press inquiries.”

Pastors Jane and Sam Whaley, the founders and leaders of Word of Faith Fellowship, posted a message on the church website denying the church has mistreated gays and said the allegations made by the Faith In America video were false.

The gay man who is the subject of the video, Michael Lowry, told the Washington Blade his parents raised him as a church member since he was born and that he attended church operated schools on the church compound from kindergarten through 12th grade.

He said church members subjected him to severe pressure since his early teens to expel what they said were “demons” within him that were causing him to embrace homosexuality.

“I was very different than a lot of the other kids,” he said. “I was viewed as being gay. I never said I am gay…It was a very hard time. Through my whole school years I was very bullied, hurt because of that.”

Lowry said that around July of 2011, church members came to his home while his parents were out of town and forced him to go with them to a building on the church compound known as the Fourth Building, where male church members reportedly are taken for punishment for violating church rules.

He said he was held in the building against his will for four months and at one point was assaulted by church members assigned to watch over him during his stay at the facility. He said church officials released him in November 2011.

FBI may have been contacted by U.S. Attorney’s Office

Jerry Cooper, a Baptist minister and former member of Word of Faith Fellowship, said he has been assisting Lowry since last year in his role as a counselor to people who leave the church and who often suffer psychological scars from their experiences with the church.

Childers said the video that YouTube deleted consisted of an interview with Cooper talking about Michael Lowry’s case. Childers said for unknown reasons YouTube did not delete a separate video that includes an interview with Lowry.

According to Cooper and Don Huddle, a member of Faith Freedom Fund, a North Carolina group that helps ex-Word of Faith Fellowship members adjust to life outside the church, said church members brought Lowry to a nearby hotel after they released him.

“They took him to the hotel with just a few of his belongings,” said Huddle, who noted that someone familiar with the church alerted his group to Lowry’s plight and informed him that a confused and emotionally distraught young man had been taken to the hotel.

“I picked him up from the hotel and brought him to a safe house,” he said. Huddle said Faith Freedom Fund has a network of volunteers and supporters who spring into action when they learn of Word of Faith Fellowship members who desire to leave the church.

Cooper said he met Lowry through Huddle’s group in 2011 and advised him to consider reporting the church’s actions against him to the Rutherford County Sheriff’s office, which is the law enforcement agency in the area where the church is located.

He said Lowry reported to a Sheriff’s Office investigator that he had been taken against his will and held against his will by church members, and the office began an investigation that resulted in Lowry being called this week to testify before a county grand jury. His testimony was scheduled for Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Childers said Faith In America contacted the U.S. Justice Department about Lowry’s allegations in October and called on the department to investigate the church’s alleged detention of Lowry and his claim of being assaulted by church members as a possible anti-gay hate crime.

A spokesperson for the United States Attorney’s Office in the Western District of North Carolina, which represents the Justice Department, said she would make inquiries about whether her office has responded to Faith In America’s request for an investigation. The spokesperson didn’t immediately get back to the Blade.

However, Cooper said an FBI agent interviewed Lowry for several hours last week about his allegations against the church, a development that suggests the U.S. Attorney’s office contacted the FBI to investigate the matter.

A copy of an incident report taken from Lowry by the Sheriff’s Office in February 2012 and released by Faith in America, says a group of men affiliated with the church “held him down and hit him about the face and chest area” at the time the church held him against his will in August 2011.

“Mr. Lowry stated that he told them to let go but they would not,” the report says. “The reason they [did] this was because he was homosexual and they [were] trying to get him to stop being homosexual. When this incident was taking place, the group would tell him he had demons in him and he was going to hell,” the report says.

‘YouTube… is giving cover to a church that believes it is OK to harm gay youth’

A statement released by Faith In America says that during Lowry’s forced stay at the church facility “he was subjected to humiliating acts, such as being made to sleep on the floor in the hallway and had to submit to supervised bathroom visits because church members feared he might be masturbating.”

“What YouTube is doing, perhaps inadvertently in this particular case, is giving cover to a church that believes it is OK to harm gay youth and families in the name of religious teaching,” Chiders said. “In doing so, it is giving cover to a vast number of churches who do the same thing, whether a small charismatic church in rural North Carolina or a large Methodist church in some American suburb.”

In a posting on its website, Word of Faith Fellowship disputes Lowry’s allegations and accuses Faith in America of “repeated vicious lies” about the church.

“We have always been a church that has loved everybody, because God is love,” the statement says. “What Michael Roy Lowry has said never happened. We would never allow it to happen. We do not discriminate against anyone, and we never have.”

The statement adds, “We never knew Michael Roy Lowry was gay until we heard it on the news program. It would have made no difference to us, because we love him.”

Cooper, who said he has closely followed Word of Faith Fellowship since he left it in 1998, said evidence is “overwhelming” from people who leave the church that church leaders abuse people suspected of being gay or suspected of engaging in any type of sexual activity not deemed appropriate by the church, even between consenting adults, gay or straight.

He said the church has prohibited Lowry’s family from seeing or talking to Lowry, a practice he said the church carries out with most people who leave it.

09
Jan
2013

Fighting back against street harassment

Silent March for Victims of GLBT Violence, Columbia Heights, hate crimes, gay news, Washington Blade

Members of the community fighting back against anti-gay hate crimes in Columbia Heights on Mar. 20, 2012. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

By PATRICK McNEIL

It’s April and I’m glad the weather is tolerable. I love taking walks and I love spending time outside. It’s beautiful, but warmer temperatures unfortunately also mean more opportunities for street harassment.

It’s a blessing and a curse.

For women and LGBTQ individuals (and those perceived to be LGBTQ), street harassment is a systemic, year-long problem, but we’re reminded at this time every year, when we engage in public interaction with greater frequency, how large of a problem it is.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention Month and earlier this month was International Anti-Street Harassment Week, a week during which activists work to raise awareness about how serious of an issue street harassment is. The event began two years ago as one day, an initiative started by Stop Street Harassment founder Holly Kearl. For the past two years, hundreds of organizations from around the globe have participated in weeklong movements.

As a gay man living in one of the gayest cities in America (and the gayest state), I’ve been particularly interested in the public harassment of this community. While my master’s thesis covered only gay and bisexual men, I am part of the community and an ally to everyone in the community. I don’t want anyone to experience street harassment.

Unfortunately, we do. Recently, the New York Times published a piece about the unfair treatment of transgender individuals by police officers in New York. I shed a tear while reading the article, a cruel reminder that, if you’re in public and not cis gender, you’re likely to be harassed. For gay men and lesbians, too, public displays of femininity and masculinity that at least border on gender non-conforming result in verbal assaults. And sometimes it gets physical.

Earlier this month in Paris, a gay couple was brutally beaten for holding hands in public. And this isn’t uncommon. Couples in the LGBTQ community are constantly required to negotiate a desire for visibility while recognizing the very real dangers of being out in public. Couples are reminded all the time that their presence is unwanted in public spaces. It’s a great source of stress and something that’s always on our minds, coupled or alone. In fact, according to my own research, about 71 percent of gay and bisexual men constantly assess their surroundings when navigating public spaces.

And we’re reminded in examples like these that our struggles are unique. When a heterosexual woman is accompanied by her partner, her chances of being harassed go down. For LGBTQ individuals the opposite happens. I’ve been there. I’ve been harassed on the street and on the Metro for holding hands with a guy. It’s not news to anyone that it happens, but it does happen with alarming frequency.

The public harassment of LGBTQ individuals is also unfortunate because of how different everyone’s identity development looks. I didn’t even come out to myself until college, but I was certainly bullied growing up for being gay. I felt social pressures and I felt uncomfortable. When you’re internally reconciling a queer identity and simultaneously being harassed because of the identity you refuse to accept, life is not easy, and it can stall the coming out process. One of my research participants, even though he was out to himself, delayed his coming out because he knew his small-town Iowa peers would adversely react. People shouldn’t have to hide their identities because they fear public retribution.

And really, I can’t say that I experience street harassment every day, as I know many women and many other LGBTQ individuals can. I don’t have to experience it to feel its effects, because I am always afraid. I’m afraid because it’s possible, because it’s happened before and will happen again, and because we live in a society where it’s unfortunately normal and expected.

These problems won’t be fixed in a week of activism and we’re likely not to even make a dent. But we have to start somewhere. Stop Street Harassment, regional Hollaback organizations, and others work year-round to combat the public harassment of women and LGBTQ folks, and they need our help.

If you’re harassed, share your story. The more of us who speak out, the more attention it will get. It’s about collectively amplifying each other’s voices, about standing in solidarity and saying that this isn’t OK. It’s about human rights and creating social spaces where all humans are free from this form of public harassment.

Patrick McNeil is a D.C.-based writer. Reach him at patrickryne@gmail.com.

25
Apr
2013