WATCH: Another attack in a bar; this time it’s a lesbian who’s injured — and then arrested

Laura Gilbert says after she was beat up by patrons of an Opelika, Ala., bar because she’s gay, sheriff’s deputies there arrested her instead of her attackers.

Back on Jan. 28 we told you about John Skaggs, a 52-year-old gay man who was beaten with a pool cue in a Shreveport bar by another man who allegedly said he was going to beat Skaggs up because Skaggs is gay. The suspect in that case, 32-year-old William Payne, has been arrested and charged with attempted second-degree murder and the commission of a hate crime.

In that case, the owner of the bar, Tim Huck, told KLSA 12 television news the attack was unprovoked and was “totally 100 percent a hate crime for his sexual orientation.”

Now comes word from Opelika, Ala., about another gay-bashing in a bar, only this time the victim was a lesbian. And this time, law enforcement officers who arrived at the scene arrested only the woman who’d been beat up.

Laura Gilbert, 25, told WRBL 3 News that she had gone to The Villa outside Opelika with her friend from high school, Sheila Siddall, to celebrate Siddall’s birthday by singing karaoke. Gilbert said she felt uncomfortable as soon as she walked into the bar and people began staring at her, but she stayed because she didn’t want to ruin Siddall’s birthday celebration.

Later, when Gilbert and Siddall started to leave the bar, they were confronted by a woman who started a fistfight that moved outside and grew to include about 12 people, including two men. Siddall called 911 on her cell phone, but when sheriff’s deputies arrived they arrested only Gilbert. Siddall said the officers refused to even listen to her’s and Gilbert’s side of the story and were “over there cutting up with the ones who did it [beat up Gilbert].” New reports also indicated that the only person who suffered any injuries was Gilbert.

Gilbert is charged with disorderly conduct and public intoxication.

Sheriff Jay Jones said that had deputies been told the fight was a hate crime, they would have reported it as such, and said they did not get information for the report from Gilbert and Siddall because the two were too intoxicated. When asked why the deputies did take statements from others at the scene who were also intoxicated, James said the deputies did the best they could.

Gilbert and Siddall have both since filed separate reports about the fight, but Gilbert told WRBL that she still hasn’t been contacted by officials.

Alabama does have a hate crime law, but it does not include sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.

—  admin

WATCH: Victim of brutal attack in Shreveport confirms it was an anti-gay hate crime

John Skaggs, the 52-year-old gay man who was brutally attacked with a pool cue at a downtown Shreveport bar last week, tells KSLA 12 that he’s convinced it was a hate crime. Skaggs is home from the hospital, but as you can see in the video below, he’s barely able to talk due to the injuries he suffered, and he’ll need reconstructive surgery. The man who attacked Skaggs, 32-year-old William Payne, is charged with attempted second-degree murder and the commission of a hate crime. Under Louisiana law, the hate crime charge carries an additional sentence of up to five years in prison, which must be served consecutively.

—  John Wright

Gay man severely beaten with pool cue in apparent hate crime at Shreveport bar

John Skaggs sustained sustained multiple fractures to his face.

Just up the road in Shreveport, La., a 52-year-old gay man was severely beaten with a pool cue in a possible hate crime at a downtown bar, according to KLSA 12. The victim, John Skaggs, is recovering at home after being hospitalized with several fractures to his face. The suspect, William Payne, is charged with attempted second-degree murder in the unprovoked attack, which was caught on surveillance videotape:

“He’s going to have some pretty serious reconstructive surgery, broken jaw, and broken bone that holds his eye socket,” said the manager and owner of the Sandbar, Tim Huck. …

“It was totally 100 percent a hate crime for this sexual orientation,” said Huck.

The bar provided police with video surveillance. Huck says it’s disturbing, and shows Payne who is a large man, breaking the cue stick over Skaggs’ face with one powerful blow.

Shreveport police believe that the video will be powerful evidence of the alleged attack, and management at the Sandbar believes it will also help distinguish between a crime and a hate crime.

“At no point in time had he talked to the man that attacked him, bumped him. After watching the video and from witnesses they hadn’t even made any form of eye contact or anything,” said Huck.

Huck considers Skaggs a friend, and says he can’t understand why someone would want to hurt him.

“Literally just enjoying a drink, in here four or five times a week, and never bothers anyone,” said Huck.

Via Joe.My.God.

—  John Wright

Anti-gay attack reported on 4th Street in Austin

Bobby Beltran is shown after the attack.

A 26-year-old gay man says he and a friend were the victims of a hate crime outside the bars on 4th Street in downtown Austin early Sunday morning.

Bobby Beltran said he and his friend had just left Rain, a gay bar, at about 1:30 a.m. When they hugged each other goodbye on the sidewalk, some men in a passing vehicle yelled, “Fucking faggots, stop that queer shit!”

After Beltran yelled at the men to “get out of here,” all five of them jumped out of the vehicle and attacked him and his friend. Beltran said he fought back but suffered cuts and bruises and a black eye. His friend may have suffered a broken jaw. The attackers quickly jumped back in the vehicle, which was parked in the middle of the street, and drove off.

“I’ve never in my life been in any kind of violent situation, especially a hate crime, so it’s been pretty traumatic,” Beltran said. “Austin is supposed to be a gay haven, especially on 4th Street. What scares me even more is that nobody even helped.”

Beltran, an activist who helped organize this year’s QueerBomb in Austin, said it was at least the third anti-gay hate crime in the city this year. In a high-profile case in February, two gay softball players were attacked near Austin City Hall.

“I’m just trying to get the word out there that this is going on in Austin and it’s not safe right now,” Beltran said. “I come from Brownsville, Texas. Even down there I was out since I was 13, and I never got picked on in high school. To find out that it’s here in Austin on 4th Street, and knowing that fellow gay men were not doing anything about it, is just shocking.”

Beltran said the police responded and took a report but didn’t seem too concerned about the crime and haven’t contacted him since then.

He said the attack lasted for about three minutes and was witnessed by at least 20 people, but none of them tried to help. Beltran said he yelled out the license plate of the vehicle as he ran after the attackers, but no one wrote it down and he doesn’t remember it.

“It was the most unsafe I’ve ever felt in my entire life, knowing that not even my community stood up,” Beltran said. “I’m so afraid to go back down there.”

Beltran described the five attackers as three black males, one Hispanic male and one white male. He said the vehicle was an older-model gold Chevrolet that was low to the ground and had fancy rims.

Witnesses are asked to call the Austin Police Department at 512-974-5000.

—  John Wright

Dallas police seek info in gay man’s murder

Moments ago the Dallas Police Department sent out the below alert seeking information in the murder of Aaron Cheung, a 27-year-old gay man who was found fatally shot in northeast Dallas on Sunday morning.

According to the alert, an unknown suspect wearing a black hoodie and black pants was seen running from the scene of Cheung’s murder.

Sr. Cpl. Kevin Janse, a spokesman for DPD, confirmed Monday afternoon that investigators don’t believe the incident was a hate crime.

“Nothing leads the detectives to believe his sexual orientation played a role in this offense,” Janse said. “Robbery is believed to be the motive. No suspect or witnesses at this time.”

Anyone with information is asked to call homicide at 214-671-3661 or 214-671-3618.

—  John Wright

Gay Plano man who was discharged from Navy under ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ attempts to re-enlist

John James Coolidge III

John James Coolidge III, a 24-year-old gay man who was discharged from the Navy in 2007 under “don’t ask don’t tell,” says he walked into a recruiting station in Plano this morning and attempted to re-enlist — this time in the Reserves.

The Pentagon announced Tuesday that it had advised recruiting commanders they must accept gay applicants, after a federal district judge issued an order last week halting enforcement of DADT.

“I handed them every item I have from my military record,” Coolidge said of his visit to the recruiting station. “I said specifically, ‘I’ve been waiting three years and eight months to the day for this. I want this taken care of and changed, and I want to get back in.’”

Coolidge said he was directed to another recruiting office in Mesquite that handles re-enlistments. He said he plans to go there on Thursday morning. Meanwhile, the government has asked an appellate court for an emergency stay of the order halting enforcement of DADT.

“I know it’s kind of up in the air, but I’m hoping the courts side with the fact that it really is unconstitutional,” said Coolidge, adding that he’s a gay Republican and proudly noting that the lawsuit was brought by the Log Cabin Republicans.

Coolidge said he was a medic stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and had been the Navy for less than a year, when someone told his commander that he was dating a Marine sergeant — which wasn’t entirely true. “I just slept with him,” Coolidge said. “It wasn’t worth it either. He was slightly drunk and he had a really tacky red light in his room.”

Coolidge said he was discharged within a month, forcing him to come out to his Catholic parents. He contemplated suicide and checked himself into a psychiatric ward.

A Michigan native, Coolidge eventually moved to Texas and now lives in Plano. He said he’s currently unemployed but recently obtained his Certified Nursing Assistant license.

We’ll have an update on Coolidge after he visits the Mesquite recruiting office on Thursday.

UPDATE: Dave Guy-Gainer, a local board member for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, reported Wednesday afternoon that another gay veteran who was discharged under DADT, Michael Moore, re-enlisted today in Mesquite. Here’s what Gainer said:

“Airman Michael Moore went to the Mesquite Recruiting Station and started his re-enlistment processing today. Fox 4 News Dallas accompanied him. You may recognize  Michael who carried the Rainbow Flag in the color guard leading the Alan Ross parade the last two years. I am so very proud of these young men and women who, although aware of the potential consequences and the obstacles that may be in their way, simply stand back up, dust themselves off, and say – I just want to continue to serve. SLDN is still advising active duty personnel to not come out until DADT is fully repealed. The DOJ appeal to the 9th Circuit Court can still go either way.”

—  John Wright