Maine activist’s sordid tale of drugs, sex and murder puts the movement in a bad light
I spent an hour in the dentist’s chair yesterday, getting shots and enduring drills. I’d rather do that again today than write about Bruce LaVallee-Davidson.
But I feel if I don’t tackle the subject of Bruce, I’ll be hiding my head in the sand. And sand tastes no better than Novocain.
LaVallee-Davidson, who lives in Maine, is a farmer — not really a profession I associate with sex parties.
LaVallee-Davidson, 50, is also a gun collector, and on an April day last year, he brought along a handgun and a shotgun to the South Portland home of Fred Wilson, 50. Over a 12-hour period, the two men, along with James Pombriant, 65, used the party drug GBL, huffed aerosol inhalants, smoked pot and had sex in the house’s dungeon.
I guess that’s one way to celebrate the end of a Maine winter.
Three times that night, said LaVallee-Davidson’s lawyers, he checked the revolver to make sure it wasn’t loaded. But when LaVallee-Davidson went to the bathroom, his lawyers maintain, Wilson snuck a bullet into the gun’s chamber.
A surprise from the host. After-dinner mints would’ve been better.
LaVallee-Davidson returned, and Wilson, engaging in a sex act with Pombriant, asked LaVallee-Davidson to place the gun to his head and pull the trigger in order to intensify his pleasure.
The first time, there was a click. Again, said Wilson. This time, there was a flash. And it wasn’t a flash of insight.
During LaVallee-Davidson’s trial, both sides agreed he didn’t intend to kill. But, said the prosecutor, "You just don’t hold a gun to someone’s head and pull the trigger without making sure it’s not loaded."
Recently a jury convicted him of manslaughter. He’s looking at a minimum of four years in prison.
The Russian roulette, drugs and three-way sex would be quite enough to capture public attention. But the fact is, LaVallee-Davidson had already captured attention in Maine.
In April he and his partner, Buck LaVallee-Davidson, testified on behalf of the bill to legalize same-sex marriage. Bruce testified four days after fatally shooting a man. I wouldn’t have been able to remember how to speak English.
So there you have it: a gay activist with a raunchy private life.
With the drugs, guns and dungeon, this mess is nectar to social conservatives. They owe Bruce LaVallee-Davidson a thank-you basket from Harry & David.
Mike Hein of the Christian Civic League of Maine is predicting the sordidness of the case will halt plans for same-sex marriage in Maine. That state, of course, lost gay marriage in November when voters ditched it, but pro-gay forces haven’t given up.
I think voters have more sense than to think one seismically stupid man makes a movement. But I know the opposition will use this case as proof that gays are debauched, that a devoted partner one day is a degenerate the next.
Some gays sure are. Some straights sure are. Let’s all do the hokey pokey.
On Queerty.com, readers weighing in on the conviction said everything from "Public figures need to keep their noses clean" to "It’s always the unattractive ones who are into BDSM."
One guy brought up Phil Spector, the oft-married record producer incarcerated for fatally shooting a woman in the mouth: "The actions of Spector have no more impact on Joe marrying Betty than this dickhead’s actions ought to have on Joe marrying Fred."
That’s how it ought to be, but it won’t. Minorities and women are held to higher standards, and gays fighting for full rights need to appear as upstanding as flagpoles.
Sometimes we aren’t upstanding. Let’s own up to it. Perfection is exhausting anyway.
Leslie Robinson is a freelance columnist on LGBT issues living in Seattle.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 22, 2010.