According to SouthFloridaGayNews.com, a 61-year-old gay man who has been a licensed practical nurse in South Florida for 40 years, recently lost his job at an assisted living facility after a routine background check turned up a misdemeanor lewdness charge against him in 1976.
Ray Fetcho used to perform as drag queen “Tiny Tina.” On March 31, 1976, Fetcho was arrested on misdemeanor lewd act charges in connection with a “Wet Jockey Shorts” contest he was emceeing — as “Tiny Tina” — at a local bar. Apparently, his lewd act was throwing a bucket of water on the line of contestants standing their in their tighty-whities.
So now, 36 years later, the state has decided that he is unworthy of working as a nurse because of that. In fact, SouthFloridaGayNews.com reports, unless he gets an exemption, the Florida Department of Health can keep him from working anywhere in the state as a nurse.
Fetcho had worked at the assisted living facility for the past 15 years, and had been honored for his “compassionate service to the elderly.” His former employer and supervisors there had nothing but good things to say about him, as did relatives of many of the patients he has helped through the years.
John Castelli, former co-owner of The Copa — the bar where Tiny Tina worked — sold the news site: “Oh my God! What century are we living in? It was such an innocent situation. The boys always wore briefs. No one was exposed. That was during the Anita Bryant era, a lifetime ago.”
Fetcho has retained a law firm to help him appeal the decision and get the necessary exemption so he can go back to work, and his attorney, Norm Kent (who also happens to be SFGN publisher) has promised that the situation will be remedied and Fetcho will be able to work as a nurse again.
But even if that happens, Fetcho’s story serves as proof positive that no matter how far we as LGBT people have come, we still have a long way to go. And our past can come back to haunt us.