On Friday night, the Columbus Police Force debuted an It Gets Better video at the Canzani Auditorium at the Columbus College of Art & Design. I was lucky enough to host this historic event, and let me tell you Columbus… who knew there were this many gay cops?! And not just gay men and women on the police force and as part of the staff, but also allies within the CPD. With over 300 people in attendance, you can be sure the stories shared in the video will touch the lives of so many. Stories of men and women coming out to their parents, their colleagues, their friends. The last time I cried that much in one night was… well.. last week. But I’m a crier. I was so honored to be part of this incredible event where law enforcement was reaching out to the community.
This was Friday night. By Monday morning, two gay men had been jumped and beaten up outside of Columbus area gay bars, and Exile had been robbed and ransacked. Local news covered the Exile robbery as just that: a robbery at a local bar. I watched 10TV last night…. and there was no mention that it was a fucking gay bar. And a BEAR bar. Allies, google it if you don’t know what a bear is. Trust me, you won’t regret it. Bears are wonderful.
10tv: I get it, it’s local news, and it plays in all the suburbs… but c’mon.
The next story on the news was the story of a man (originally said to be from Cincinnati but there’s a conflicting report he is from Kentucky) that was jumped and left unconscious outside of South Bend, a gay bar in Merion Village. The news explained that the victim “claimed it was because he was gay, but police are calling it a robbery.” Well, Channel 10… maybe they are investigating. Its their job. Maybe YOU should report unbiased news. That’s YOUR job.
This afternoon, I heard about a 3rd incident: a beloved bar manager from a Short North gay bar was viciously jumped and beat up after his work shift this past weekend.
Local news coverage on all of these incidents have been spotty at best, and rumors spin around the gay community faster than a dragqueen on rollerskates, but this pattern is petrifying. Its 2013. It’s Pride month. And all of a sudden, the members and businesses in our community are being targeted.
I know what you are thinking… maybe theses crimes were crimes of opportunity. Maybe it has nothing to do with them being gay. Columbus has been named one of the top gay cities in America… surely there’s no problem with hate crimes here…
First of all, the fact that Columbus is such a welcoming city is fantastic, and I am proud to live within the city lines, but the fact that this shit is happening HERE means that it’s only worse outside city limits. Did you know that in the state of Ohio (with the exception of an ordinance sheltering Columbus) that you could be fired, evicted, denied housing, or kicked out of any place of public accommodation for being gay? For real. The Equal Housing & Employment Act (which would protect the LGBT community from this type of discrimination) was recently proposed in the state legislature, but who knows if it will become law. While Columbus is making massive strides in equality, the rest of the state is trailing being like a fat kid at a track meet (I was that fat kid and trust me… we never catch up.)
Second of all, I am not necessarily for hate crime sentence enhancements. Oftentimes, it puts the racists and bigots in the system longer, where they can grow even more resentful and let’s face it….the vicious bullies who get extended sentences often have more access to victims within prison walls. So I’m not asking for all of these to be considered hate crimes by law, but they are hateful crimes. And that will not and should not be tolerated in this city.
The CPD will investigate and do everything they can. I know they will because I know that issues like this are at the locus of the current administration’s mission.
Some people are posting online, “THAT’S WHY I BRING MY GUN TO THE BAR!” Well… that’s insane. But more importantly, not a solution.
I hate to go all hippie on your asses, but if we start working together and getting along within our community, we may hold the power to protect each other just a little bit more. The Ls have to stop shit-talking the Bs, the Qs and the Ts need to get along, the Gs need to embrace the Ls and their love of serial monogamy. We all need to step up… L.G.B.T.Q.A. You meet a hot girl at the bar and want to ditch your friend to go home with her? Make sure your friend is in a cab first before you drop your cargo pants and cuddle all night. Splitting off with a group to meet up with them later? Take a buddy. Is your friend too drunk to function? Leave the party and take them home. It may shorten your Saturday night, but this is just one step we can take to protect each other. Bullies are out there, and sometimes, our friends and our community is our only line of defense.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m working on a new app… it’s like Grindr, but for lesbians. I’m calling it, “Cuddle”. SEE I HAD TO PUT ONE JOKE IN THIS POST!