Why I’m afraid to go out sometimes
I like to tell myself when my boyfriend and I go out that there’s no reason to worry, because we both live in relatively tolerant states, and it is 2010, after all. No one would ever assault someone just for being gay, right?
Jesse Allard, 23, of Stillwater, suffered arm and leg injuries and was hospitalized in Paterson after the alleged assault on Dec. 26.
In an interview Wednesday on WWOR-TV, Secaucus, N.J., Allard said he went to the Trackside Bar & Grill in Butler, to celebrate his birthday. Inside he complimented a patron on the coat he was wearing and that led to the alleged assault.
“He called me a fag and he told me don’t ever touch him again,” Allard told television reporter Mike Gilliam, who interviewed him in a hospital bed. “So I was just like, ‘Well, I’m sorry I’m just complimenting your coat,’ ” Allard said.
I actually make it a point to never compliment a man’s clothing unless I know him well, which is starting to look like a smart move on my part. The reporter from My 9 News (video here), who broke the story, actually asked Allard point-blank, “Were you trying to come onto him at all?” (he wasn’t). The Times-Leader reporter quoted that.
The question implies that if a man shows interested in another man, then it’s okay to call him a slur, drag him outside and beat him up and smash his phone while your buddy holds him, and then run him over with a car, which is what Allard says happened to him. The question brings to mind the “gay panic” defense, in which people commit horrible crimes against LGBT people and then say they “couldn’t help it” because they just “lost control” after realizing the other person wasn’t just like them. It’s a disgusting defense that’s long past antiquated, and nobody should be referring to it with anything other than contempt, or perhaps morbid and historical curiosity.
Poor Allard even says an off-duty policeman said he wasn’t working and refused to help, after which he was hit by a jeep. He’s uninsured and awaiting surgery. Some birthday, huh?
The Butler Police Department (tellingly?) hasn’t answered any questions so far. You’d think someone like the chief or public information officer could find it in themselves to make some kind of statement over the weekend, but it looks like we’ll have to wait until at least Monday morning.
I’ve certainly never experienced anything like that, but people have certainly given me lip and threatening looks, and each instance of this kind of hatred makes that a little more worrisome.
This is all hitting at a particularly unfortunate time, since the state legislature only has a few days left to act on the marriage equality bill before it’ll be too late to get it to Gov. Corzine’s desk before he leaves. I can only hope that, should Allard’s allegations be substantiated, the incident will be investigated as a hate crime (which, thanks to the Matthew Shepard Act, can be done by federal officials if local officials choose not to).