Showing posts with label Hate Gay Crime. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hate Gay Crime. Show all posts

January 16, 2020

The Third Suspect Has Been Arrested on The Beating Death of a Bronx Gay Man

Three people have been arrested for allegedly killing Juan Fresnada, 60, who died after suffering a brutal attack on Christmas Eve.

A third suspect has been busted and hit with murder and gang assault charges for his alleged role in the deadly Christmas Eve beating of a 60-year-old gay man in the Bronx.
The NYPD announced the arrest of a 14-year-old boy on the morning of January 10 and charged him with second-degree murder along with two gang assault charges, marking the latest development in a case in which three teenagers have been accused of killing Juan Fresnada as he and his partner, Byron Caceres, were leaving a McDonald’s on Third Avenue near East 164th Street.
The teen, whose identity is being withheld because he is a minor, is the second minor to be charged in the case after a 15-year-old was busted on January 6. Eighteen-year-old Abu Conteh was the first person to face charges in the case, though he has maintained his innocence and claimed to the Daily News that he did not play a role in the attack.
The attackers first targeted Fresnada and his partner in a robbery attempt, but they pounced on Fresnada when he wouldn’t give in, kicking and punching him before hitting him with a steel garbage can. He was transported to Lincoln Hospital, where he died three days later, on December 27.
All three suspects have been charged with murder and gang assault charges, but the two minors are likely to be treated differently because state law considers teens who are 13, 14, and 15 years of age to be juvenile offenders when they are accused of serious or violent felonies. Those cases are reserved for the youth part of the Supreme Court, where defendants are subject to less severe penalties. 
The NYPD did not return emails seeking clarification about whether more suspects are still at large. Police originally said that there were five attackers. Authorities have not produced any evidence pointing to a hate crime in the case or that the attackers knew Fresnada and his partner were a couple. 
The attack drew attention from local leaders who rallied at the scene of the beating on January 7 to raise awareness about violence in the neighborhood. Bronx State Assemblymembers Vanessa Gibson and Michael Blake, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, and Bronx State Senator Luis Sepúlveda were among those on hand.

December 18, 2019

What is Going on With Queens?? These Homophobic Attacks Have to Stop, We Are Not Going Back to 2008


This posting appeared today on Gay City NewsMATT TRACY is the writer.

A man is shaken up and ready to bolt the Big Apple out of fear for his safety, he said, after he suffered a homophobic attack in Queens on December 8 and received no help from police officers.
Ronald Albarracin, a 24-year-old gay man who hails from Ecuador, said he was on his way back from a bar when he was attacked, unprovoked, at Northern Boulevard and 99th Street in North Corona at around 3:30 a.m. The alleged assailants started calling him names and homophobic slurs before the attack turned physical. Albarracin was punched and kicked, leaving him with a broken nose, bruises, and several visible marks on his hands and face.
He escaped from the scene and called the police as soon as he could. An ambulance and police officers both arrived shortly thereafter.
“The police did not do anything even though they saw me with blood,” Albarracin told Gay City News in Spanish through a translator, Karmina Lima Fonseca, who is the editor of Gay City News’ sister publication El Correo. “They did not even say anything or explain anything. They did not speak Spanish and did not try at all to understand what was going on.”
NYPD spokesperson Denise Moroney, a detective, did not comment on Albarracin’s complaints about police but confirmed to Gay City News that cops responded to Albarracin’s 911 call. She said the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating the case, though she did not describe it as an anti-gay attack. Police said they have no description of the alleged attackers. 
After cops apparently blew him off, medics transferred Albarracin to Elmhurst Hospital — but he said he had a poor experience there as well. He was not provided anything for pain relief and has since endured nosebleeds and episodes of pain.
It was not the first time Albarracin suffered an anti-LGBTQ attack or discrimination due to his sexual orientation, but he wants it to be his last. He is now planning on moving upstate to an area roughly three hours north of the city — and in the meantime, he is too afraid to even leave his home.
“I do not dare to go out into the street with the way I am, with the broken nose,” he said. “I cannot even take off my hat because of how my face looks. I have not even gone to work.”
There have been a series of homophobic and transphobic attacks in Queens throughout the year. A gay couple said they were attacked while eating at Pollos Mario at 81-01 Roosevelt Avenue on September 13 and trans women Bianey Garcia and Norma Ureiro were hit with anti-LGBTQ slurs and pepper spray at Roosevelt Avenue and 82nd Street in Jackson Heights, the day before the WorldPride/ Stonewall 50 March in New York City.
In an effort to bring awareness to the attack, Albarracin and other advocates are holding a press conference on December 18 at 1 p.m. at Corona Plaza at 103rd Street and Roosevelt Avenue.
“I am not going to let it go,” Albarracin said. “I want to look for justice.”

June 30, 2019

The Four Man Accused of A Hate Crime At Gay Gala in Miami Face A Judge

Duration 0:56
Group who beat up gay couple are charged with a hate-crime

Miami Herald

The four young men accused of attacking a gay couple on South Beach face stiffer penalties after prosecutors charged them Thursday under Florida's hate-crime enhancement law. 
A South Florida LGBTQ group came under sharp criticism this week after attendees of a gay pride gala in Hard Rock Stadium learned they had been joined at the event by an unlikely — and largely unwanted — bunch of visitors: four men accused of hate crimes in connection with the beating of two gay men after an annual gay pride parade in Miami Beach.
The board of directors of SAVE, a Miami-based LGBTQ rights and advocacy nonprofit, apologized Thursday to the gay community and the victims of the April 8, 2018, attack, which was captured on surveillance footage. The four suspects — Juan Carlos Lopez, Luis Alonso Piovet, Adonis Diaz and Pablo Reinaldo Romo-Figueroa — were charged last year under Florida’s hate-crime enhancement law.
Each of the young men was charged with three counts of aggravated battery committed with prejudice. All the suspects were 20 or 21 years old at the time of the attack. 
They have pleaded not guilty, but police said Lopez and his companions called the victims maricones, an anti-gay slur in Spanish, before repeatedly punching the two gay men, Rene Chalarca and Dmitry Logunov, in the face. The punches briefly knocked out Logunov. 

A witness to the attack, Helmut Muller, chased the men and was also beaten up. He sustained a gash to the back of his head that would require four stitches. Miami Beach officials honored him as a “hero” for helping the beaten couple.
So it came as a surprise to some members of the LGBTQ community in South Florida that the accused men attended the SAVE Champions of Equality Gala on June 14 — during Pride month no less.
Their appearance there was first reported by South Florida Gay News. The news outlet additionally reported that SAVE Executive Director Tony Lima announced from the stage of the gala that the men had been “wrongly accused.” Lima later said he didn’t recall saying that, but if he did, he apologized.
In a post to Facebook on Thursday, the group’s board of directors said it did not intend to “support, exonerate or justify the actions of these individuals” and that it would investigate the circumstances surrounding their appearance and any recognition they may have received from staff.
“We want to extend our deepest apologies first, to the victims, and equally, to the community for any insensitivity that may have been conveyed on our behalf by their attendance and mention at the gala,” the statement reads. “We are currently investigating this matter more thoroughly to determine the facts around the attendance and recognition of these individuals and will be providing an update to our supporters and the community at large as soon as we gather all the appropriate information.”
Lopez’s father, who is gay, said in an interview last year with NBC 6 that he does not believe his son acted out of animus toward the LGBTQ community.
The men have volunteered in a limited capacity with SAVE since their arrest and subsequent release, the group said. SAVE said the men were not invited to the gala and bought their own way into the event.
Lima apologized via a video statement on Facebook posted Friday night.
He said Lopez’s parents contacted him about six weeks ago to inquire about volunteering with the group. Each man volunteered about two to three hours each, and helped with data entry and some preparations. The men and Lopez’s parents bought tickets, he said.
Lima said he welcomed the group during the program but did not recall claiming the men had been wrongfully accused. 
“If that’s what I said in haste, I apologize for that,” he said. “I am no one to pass judgment on the case.”
He said he acted alone and should have consulted with the board of directors.
In his video statement, Lima told the men it was positive they were “trying to support the community and trying to really rehabilitate themselves.”
“When I saw them at the event, I wanted them to feel welcomed and I wanted them to really be able to have the opportunity to engage with our community at a deeper level,” he said.
A spokesperson for the Miami state attorney’s office said the case remains an active criminal prosecution.
“We believe we have sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the charges against them: Aggravated Battery with Prejudice/Weapon or Bodily Harm, Aggravated Battery, Assault with Prejudice/or on Religious Institution Grounds, and Assault,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “If that were not the case, the charges would have been dropped in the past.”
Miami Herald staff writer David Smiley contributed to this report.

Read moe here:

November 19, 2018

Man From Queens NY, Faces 15 Years For Assaulting A Couple in Williamsburg He Thought To Be gay

A 25-year-old man faces up to 15 years behind bars for assaulting a gay couple in Williamsburg, according to the borough’s top prosecutor, who charged the defendant with a hate crime he said has no place in Brooklyn.

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez on Wednesday charged this 25-year-old Queens man, Brandon McNamara, with a hate crime after he allegedly assaulted two gay men in Williamsburg in September.

“This defendant allegedly assaulted an innocent couple simply because he perceived they were gay,” said District Attorney Eric Gonzalez on November 14 written statement. “Crimes that target individuals because of their sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or other identity are a threat to everything we stand for in Brooklyn.”
The Queens man, Brandon McNamara, ran after the 29- and 30-year-old victims and shouted homophobic slurs as they left Lorimer Street’s Metropolitan Bar — a popular watering hole among the local gay community — a little before 1 a.m. on September 23, officials said.
McNamara then chased the couple down Metropolitan Avenue, before hurling both victims to the ground, knocking each unconscious, authorities said.
A good Samaritan called 911 to report the incident, and paramedics rushed both men to Woodhull Hospital, where doctors treated the 30-year-old victim for a fractured and dislocated left shoulder, and the 29-year-old victim for a broken finger, according to police.
The suspect turned himself into cops days later, on September 26, after authorities circulated a photo of him snapped by a person who witnessed the act, prosecutors said.
Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun set the defendant’s bail at $15,000 during his Wednesday arraignment and ordered him to return to court on January 16, according to information from Gonzalez’s office.
This article was originally published in Gay City News’ sister publication Brooklyn Paper.

September 11, 2018

Redmond O'Neal Accused Of Hate Crime in Which He Attacked Gay Man For Looking At Him

A Los Angeles man has accused Redmond O’Neal, troubled son of actors Ryan O’Neal and the late Farrah Fawcett, of perpetrating a hate crime, USA Today reports.
Ken Fox filed a lawsuit this week against O’Neal, 33, detailing an alleged confrontation that the victim believes was motivated by his sexual orientation.
Fox, who is gay, says O’Neal called him “faggot” before attacking him in May as he walked along an L.A. street.
Fox is one of five men accusing O’Neal of unprovoked attacks during a violent crime spree. Two of the men were seriously injured.

Redmond O'Neal/Courtesy LAPD
Celebrity attorney Gloria Allred held a press conference to announce her client’s lawsuit alleging assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, violation of civil rights, negligence, loss of consortium, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Fox seeks punitive and compensatory damages in excess of $25,000.
Fox said he was wheeling a laundry basket to a nearby laundromat when he saw a young man walk toward him wearing a hoodie and carrying a bottle in a paper bag.
Fox claims the man, later identified by police as O’Neal, asked, “What are you looking at?” before calling him the anti-gay slur. “I was not dressed provocatively,” Fox said. “All I did was look up when I saw him approach me.” 

Sarah Morris/Getty Images
Fox said O’Neal then hit him in the nose with a beer bottle and stood over him as he lay bleeding on the ground, continuing to throw punches, taunt the victim with more slurs, and threaten additional hits with the bottle. 
“I felt trapped, like a wounded animal,” Fox said while choking back tears. “I literally thought I was going to die… All I could do was scream until he just walked away.”
Fox, who had to have his broken nose re-broken and reset, said he is currently seeing multiple physicians and a psychologist for various post-traumatic issues.  
“I have spent the last four months recovering from what Redmond O’Neal did to me,” continued Fox, who made it clear he’s pressing charges to hold O’Neal accountable for homophobic violence that violates California civil rights laws. 
“I am speaking out today because I need to do what I can to make sure that this man never injures or hurts another defenseless ‘faggot’ ever again. That’s what Mr. O’Neal called me right before he sucker punched me. The word faggot is hate speech and just one of many offensive terms used to make gay men feel ashamed of themselves.”
“In my opinion he is competent enough to know exactly what he was doing,” Fox continued. “He wanted to hurt an old, weak, defenseless gay man. He wanted to hurt me. And he did hurt me.”

Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Farrah Fawcett Foundation
“We contend in our lawsuit that a substantial motivating reason for Redmond O’Neal’s conduct towards Ken was Mr. O’Neal’s perception of Ken’s sexual orientation,” Allred added. “There must be serious consequences for anyone who engages in violence against innocent victims and particularly where the victim is victimized on account of his status as a member of a minority which has a long history of persecution and violence against them on account of their sexual orientation.”
O’Neal fled the scene but was later arrested after allegedly committing other unprovoked acts of violence, including stabbing a Venice man in the head and slitting his throat. He was eventually charged with attempted murder, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, criminal threats, brandishing a knife, and battery connected to the reported crime spree.  
The alleged assailant has been in police custody since May 8, when he was arrested on suspicion of robbing a convenience store at knife point.

Steve Grayson/WireImage
O’Neal, who has a history of substance abuse, was previously arrested in 2011 for possession of heroin and an unauthorized firearm, which followed a 2008 DUI and drugs charge. He was sentenced to three years in prison in 2015 for violating parole.
O’Neal has previously blamed all his problems on his famous parents, specifically his strained relationship with his father following Fawcett’s 2009 death from cancer.
His half-sister, Oscar winner Tatum O’Neal, has also publicly struggled with substance abuse.

 Appeared on  Logo's NewNowNext


The Los Angeles Police Department alleges that Redmond O’Neal committed the crimes in early May. Evidence was presented to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office on Friday, KABC reported. The office returned charges of attempted murder, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, one count of criminal threats, one count of brandishing a knife and one count of battery, the television station reported.
Detectives investigated several crimes that occurred in the Venice Beach and Palms neighborhoods of Los Angeles between May 2 and May 5. They determined that all of the crimes were committed by the same person and allege that it was Redmond O’Neal.
Redmond O’Neal was arrested May 8 after the robbery of a convenience store, ending the crime spree, KABC reported. 
Authorities said they have not determined a motive.
"They all seem to be random. It appears, though, based on what we know now, that it just started as an argument between unknown persons and quickly escalated with the violent acts," LAPD Sgt. Scotty Steven said.
Redmond O’Neal has been arrested several times for drug possession, KABC reported.. He pleaded no contest to heroin possession stemming from a 2011 arrest and was sentenced to five years of probation.
Redmond O'Neal remains in the custody of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. KABC reported.

July 18, 2018

AGAIN! This Time Portland: Hater Spewing Assaults to a Gay Couple{Police Do NOTHING}

Wendy and Trudy Dragoon were crossing a street in their Southeast neighborhood of Brentwood-Darlington yesterday evening around 7:30 when they heard an engine rev nearby. They turned to see a truck speeding towards them. The couple ran onto the sidewalk to watch the truck whip by, do a U-turn, and park in front of a nearby home. Three men exited the vehicle, including a skinny 20-something who had been yelling out the window at the women as the truck drove by. 
"He got out of the car and said something about 'Beating the shit out of fucking dykes,'" says Wendy. When Trudy crossed the street to where the truck was parked to confront the man, Wendy began filming using her cell phone. 
In a video that's since been uploaded to Facebook, the man is seen throwing up his fists at Trudy, who stands patiently in front of him. He doesn't swing. But he does go on to call her a "gay pride-ass bitch" and a number of other homophobic and sexist slurs. 
"You think you scare me? You're a fucking woman," says the man, as his friends start unloading some bags from the truck and bringing them into the house. "I'll spit in your face… I'll literally put you to fucking sleep."
The man’s friends, one of whom tells Trudy he owns the neighboring house, attempts to separate the man from Trudy by standing between them.
At the end of the 3-minute-long video, a police officer on patrol happens to drive by and asks the group what's going on.

"He's harassing me," says Trudy.
"She won't get off my property," says the first man.
Then the video cuts out. In a interview with the Mercury, Wendy Dragoon filled in the rest of the story. Wendy said that the Portland police officer told Trudy to "just ignore them."
"I was like, 'Absolutely not,'" Wendy recalls telling the officer. "I said, 'This is harassment. This has to be a hate crime.'" 
But according to Dragoon, the officer allegedly told the couple that unless the man was physically violent, it wasn't a hate crime. 
"He actually said, 'Being mean to you isn't against the law,'" Dragoon says.
That’s not necessarily the case. Under Oregon's hate crime law, a person can be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor if they:
Intentionally, because of the person’s perception of race, color, religion, sexual orientation, disability or national origin... subjects the other person to alarm by threatening:
(A) To inflict serious physical injury upon or to commit a felony affecting the other person, or a member of the person’s family
Based on the video, yesterday's incident seems to fit this description. 
According to Christopher Burley, spokesperson for the Portland Police Bureau (PPB), the unnamed officer said he "advised the groups to avoid one another and they separated." Because the incident "is an open investigation," Burley is unable to comment more specifically regarding the officer's response.
"I was not present at the time of the incident and a video does not necessarily convey everything that was occurring at the time of this incident," wrote Burley in an email to the Mercury. He said the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office may further investigate the video.
The evening incident continued into the early morning hours, according to the Dragoons. Wendy says that around midnight, she and Trudy were awakened by loud fireworks coming from the same property where the truck had parked. They walked outside to confirm, and discovered another neighbor already outside on the phone, reporting the late-night fireworks show to the police. The neighbor allegedly told the police dispatch that the suspects had been harassing Trudy and Wendy earlier. 
Three officers showed up, including the same one from earlier. Again, Dragoon says she tried to explain to the two new officers that they had been harassed by a man on the property earlier. This time, Dragoon says, one of the other officers asked, "But how do you know its a hate crime? How is he supposed to know you're gay?" 
"And that was it," Dragoon says. "They clearly weren't there to help us."
Dragoon believes the owners of the property are new to the neighborhood—she doesn't recall seeing them before yesterday. She says she often walks by the house with her two kids, since it's on the way to Dairy Queen. 
"I don't feel safe in my home anymore. It wouldn't take them long to find out where we live," she says.
This isn’t the only recent incident involving Portland police officers allegedly ignoring allegations of a hate crime.
In June, a woman reported that a man had yelled homophobic slurs at her and beat up her brother while they were leaving Portland's Pride Festival. According to her, one of the reporting officers claimed it wasn't a hate crime because her brother was straight. PPB officers, however, have argued that the state law that addresses these crimes doesn't allow them to fully pursue alleged hate crimes. 
While PPB's Burley can't comment on yesterday's event, he did acknowledge the underlying problem: "The Police Bureau is aware that speech, such as the speech present in this video, instills fear in members of our community."
For the latest protests, rallies, and activist events, check out the Mercury's Resistance Calendar.

July 7, 2018

Colombia Murder Rates for LGBT Unchanged! Police, Paramilitary Are Also The Perps

[By Anastasia Moloney]            
BOGOTA, July 6 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Colombia has made no progress in stopping killings of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, campaigners said, as new research showed more than 100 were killed last year despite an overall fall in the murder rate.

 Colombia's murder rate fell to its lowest level in four decades last year, according to government figures, but the number of LGBT people killed has not dropped.
There were 109 reported murders of LGBT people last year and 108 in 2016, according to a report by rights group Colombia Diversa. Most victims were gay men or transgender women.
"Despite advances made in recognizing (LGBT) rights, the peace process, and the general decrease in homicides in the country, violence against LGBT people does not show a similar reduction," said the report, published this week.
The president's adviser on human rights, Paula Gaviria, said Colombia was committed to protecting LGBT people.
"The murders of LGBTI people pain us," Gaviria said. "We need that violence stops being what defines us as a country. Nothing can and should be above the respect for life."
Marcela Sanchez, head of Colombia Diversa, said that while more state prosecutors had been trained in LGBT rights and appointed to investigate hate crimes and murders, most still went unpunished.
"This hasn't translated into better investigations and sentencing," Sanchez told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Colombia has made important gains on gay rights since 2015, allowing same-sex couples to marry and adopt children, but campaigners say that could be put to the test when the new right-wing government of Ivan Duque takes over in August.
During his election campaign, president-elect Duque told local media he had "great respect" for the LGBT community.
But his government is backed by conservative and evangelical groups that view homosexual acts as a sin and are gaining influence in the country.
Some of the tens of thousands who took to the streets for a nationwide LGBT pride march last week held banners saying "Not a step backward".
"We have marriage equality and other rights, but now we need to protect them because the conservative movement is strong and is very well connected to the presidency," said Mauricio Albarracin, an LGBT activist.
(Reporting by Anastasia Moloney @anastasiabogota, Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit

June 29, 2018

After 3yr Probe Australia Find 27 Men Were Killed Because They were Gay


Police in Sydney have admitted that an “ugly”  wave of gay-hate violence led to the murder or suspected murder of 27 men between 1976 and 2000, including some who were thrown off cliffs or slain in parks that were well-known gay beats. 
A three-year investigation into 88 suspicious deaths exposed a dark episode in Sydney’s history, in which the police and judiciary were accused of failing to properly report or investigate the bashing and killing of gay men, whose deaths were sometimes recorded as suicides. 
The horrific violence towards homosexuals peaked during the “moral panic” around the HIV epidemic in the 1980s and 1990s, when up to 20 assaults were occurring daily. Admitting they can “learn from the past”, police in New South Wales investigated 88 deaths and concluded that eight of the men were murdered by homophobic killers and 19 were suspected of links to gay hatred.
The motives for a further 25 killings remain unknown. 
Of the remaining deaths, 34 cases had no evidence of gay-hate bias  and two were removed from the investigation, one due to a lack of records and one because it occurred outside the state of the New South Wales.
Police said they will consider issuing a formal apology to the victims and their families. Some of the killers responsible are believed to be alive and at large. 
“We accept that there were mistakes made,” said Assistant Commissioner Tony Crandell. 
“We accept that we can learn from the past and we can do better. We believe that the community expectation of police today and always is to conduct thorough investigations when it comes to the death of somebody.”
He added: “It’s an ugly part of our history.”
Many of the assaults and deaths occurred at well-known gay beats such as popular beaches and parks, mainly targeting gay men and transgender women. Some of the murder victims were chased or thrown off coastal cliffs. 
Alan Rosendale was attacked in Sydney in 1989
Alan Rosendale was attacked in Sydney in 1989
Recalling being pursued  down a busy Sydney street after being spotted at an inner-city gay beat in 1989, Alan Rosendale said he heard someone shout “there’s one, let’s get him” before a group of men began chasing him. He tripped and was caught by the men: his next memory was waking in hospital.
“I had a broken nose, broken teeth, they bashed me around the head a lot,’ he told Gay Star News.
Mr Rosendale said police made numerous errors in their report, including incorrectly recording his name and birthdate and claiming he was attacked by “skinheads”.
“I was punched and kicked to the ground in an area frequented by homosexuals was all the [police] report said,” he said.
“We all knew they were murders, but they were being reported as suicide. I just thought it would never happen to me."  

May 31, 2018

Man Arrested in Gay Couple Stabbing on Sunday

May 23, 2018

Bullies Tag The Closeted (She thought)Teen Car, Then Things Turned Interesting

RIVERTON — A high school student knew intolerance existed in this town of roughly 11,000 long before a local radio host’s homophobic remarks thrust LGBTQ issues into the spotlight.
Cheerleader Elisabeth Carey had always felt it was smarter to keep her secret — the one about liking girls — mostly to herself until she graduated. Who wants to make high school any harder? she said. 
But she was ill-equipped to deal with the consequences when someone spray-painted “LESBO” in large red letters across the passenger’s side of Carey’s car and let her drive the graffiti through town, unawares.  
Carey has bright eyes and a smile that hovers in person and breaks through in photographs — especially the ones taken with family members. WyoFile has given her a pseudonym to protect her privacy as a minor. A member of a Wind River Indian Reservation tribe, Carey belongs to a large multigenerational family and likes to go hunting with her father — a big man and a law enforcement officer. 
Along with wanting a drama-free high school experience, it was fear of how her hunting partner might react that had kept Carey quiet, she said. She confided only in a few friends and trusted teachers about her sexual orientation. 
Elisabeth Carey likes to hunt with her father. Fears about how he would react to the news that she was gay is one of the reasons she delayed coming out, she said. (photo provided by family)
“I wasn’t ready to tell my Dad,” Carey said. “I was getting there … but I wasn’t ready to tell my grandparents or my uncles or my aunts or anything. I was just going to wait until I was older because it would be easier. I wouldn’t have people my age judging me about it and it would be easier for my family to accept me.”
Her mother and father didn’t know she was gay, she thought. Except they really did know, they told her later or at least had a pretty good guess. They were content to wait on Carey to broach the subject. 
“When she was ready,” her mother said. “And she wasn’t.” 
Carey still wasn’t ready on the morning of January 27. 
She parked her car in the Riverton High School school gymnasium lot and spent the day on the sidelines of the Ron Thon Memorial Wrestling tournament. It’s a big event that garners statewide attention. Cheerleaders don’t do their routines at the event, Carey said, but instead wear sweatpants and t-shirts and help sell raffle tickets and hand out medals. 
She spent all day inside the building, then walked back to her silver Chevy sedan.
“I didn’t check my passenger’s side, because why would you?” she said. “I just got in and I drove home.” 
If Carey had chosen that day to tell her father she was gay, which she hadn’t, she certainly would not have chosen to start the conversation by spray-painting “LESBO” on her car.
But someone had chosen for her. The word was there, unbeknownst to Carey as she drove major Riverton thoroughfares across town toward home.
The word stretched in thick red lines from the rear wheel-well, across both doors to under the side view mirror and from the bottom of the windows nearly to the base of the car’s frame. She hadn’t seen it. No none she passed could miss it. 
Her secret paraded across town. 
It certainly wasn’t missed by her father, standing in their snowy yard.
“I have seen her coming around the corner and I could just see it written on the side of her car,” her father remembered. 
“Did you see this?” he asked once she parked. 
“I saw what it was and I went inside,” Carey remembered. “And then I remember just like freaking out.” 
She screamed. She cried. “She had a complete meltdown,” her mother said. Carey tried to leave the home and go back to school to find those responsible. Her father refused to let her go, at times physically restraining her. 
She didn’t go back to school for two days. 
“I wasn’t stable enough,” she said. 
Carey knew who had vandalized her car, she said. She believes it was a girl she’d once considered her best friend and another girl. They had learned Carey’s secret and been mocking her for it. The vandalism wasn’t the end of the aggression, Carey said.
“They would just always find a way to make sure I saw them and make sure I saw that they were laughing at me,” she said. “Make sure I saw that they were pointing at me.” 
Carey and her parents reported the incident to the school, but the girls were never punished. School officials told the family they couldn’t prove who the culprits were. 
“We would love to be able to identify clearly who did that so we could take action,” Terry Snyder, the superintendent of Carey’s school district, told WyoFile. Officials have not given up investigating the incident, he said. “It’s tragic to me that somebody would paint that on her car, the emotional impact that has on a person has to be very, very significant” 
The family has not been satisfied with the school’s response, they told WyoFile. Eventually, they say, Carey stood up to her bullies herself. The result was an altercation in the school hallway —  a fight that she won, Carey said. 
But being forced out of the closet pushed Carey into a depression, according to Carey and her parents. “I was super paranoid, super depressed,” Carey said. 
Going to school felt like walking around with a target on her back: “It’s like I’m an open book that everybody just gets to read and use,” she said. Her grades fell off and for a while, she was failing some of her classes.  
Carey is healing with time, in no small part thanks to the affection of her sprawling family. It hasn’t changed since they found out she was gay. “We have such a huge circle of relations and you love and accept each other,” Carey’s mother said. 
At school Carey lost some friends, she said but gained new ones. She drew a circle of supporters around herself. “They would do anything to protect me,” she said. 
One day, she again found writings on her car — this time they were affirmations, written in Sharpie.
“You’re a perfect ray of sunshine,” “have pride we love you,” and “you’re perfect just the way you are” occupied the same side of her car that once bore her secret and threatened to tear her life apart. The notes had been written by her cheerleading teammates. A photo from the day shows the team huddled around Carey in front of the car, smiling warmly. 
But tensions in the school still simmered. 
In April, another Riverton High School student posted a photograph on Facebook. In it he stood in front of a painting of a rainbow-striped heart with the words LGBTQ+ painted in the middle of it. 
The painting was a message of support for LGBTQ students at the school, Carey said, one of two on the walls. She didn’t know who had painted them.
She liked it. “It felt more welcoming,” she said, “Those paintings just kind of made it feel like I could be accepted.” 
But the student’s Facebook post shows him holding up two middle fingers and a yellow ‘Don’t Tread on Me’ flag. A version of the post obtained by WyoFile shows the photo accompanied by a caption with a homophobic slur. The student who posted it has been suspended, Carey said. 
The paintings have since been removed. 
“It was a painting that was done without the approval of the teacher and the content of the painting wasn’t the issue with us it was just that it hadn’t been approved,” superintendent Snyder said. “We want people to be able to share their beliefs and their thoughts but that wasn’t how we want that to be done.”
According to Carey, students have been offered the chance to replace the paintings with a poster offering an LGBTQ message if they want. She’s not interested. 
“It’s just too big of a deal to some students,” she said. “I’m not there to start drama with my peers. I’m just there to graduate and get out.” 
Carey would like to become a nurse, she said. She hopes to study at Central Wyoming College in Riverton and then once she has acquired her nursing degree, move away. 
“This whole town is really close-minded,” she said.
Her father isn’t so sure. 
“Everything’s way better after high school,” he said. 

Intolerance on the radio

Like Carey after the Ron Thon, superintendent Snyder was in for an ambush.
On April 25, he went to a studio at the Wind River Radio Network for his bi-weekly appearance on The Morning Buzz, a talk show hosted by John Birbari, a longtime presence in local media and a former chairman of the Fremont County Republican Party. 
The two men do an on-air interview after Snyder’s meetings with the school board, the superintendent later wrote in an email to his staff, in order to talk about local education issues. This week, however, Birbari seemed to have other matters on his mind.
A listener had emailed him a photo of the supportive-LGBTQ paintings, Birbari said. He then proceeded to question Snyder about what the radio host called a political statement. Birbari called homosexuality “destructive medically” and said most gay people he knew had come to “tragic ends.
Snyder, whose district includes seven other schools, wasn’t aware of the paintings, he told Birbari. Regardless, the surprised superintendent countered Birbari, telling him his opinions on the LGBTQ population were dated and repeatedly expressing his support for any student — gay or straight, Christian or not — at his school.
Carey’s family remains unhappy with the high school’s handling of the bullying she faced. But Snyder’s pushback on Birbari, Carey said, gave her more hope.
“He stood up for us,” she said.
The radio interview became statewide news, with an article on WyoFile and in the Casper Star-Tribune a week later. Snyder has received an outpouring of gratitude and support, both from within and outside of Wyoming, he said.
“Until you have something like that happen you don’t really know what your community, the state or others — how they’re going to respond,” he said. “But the responses I’ve received have been very strong in opposition to the position the radio host took.” 
A day after the news of Birbari’s interview went statewide, members of LGBTQ-advocacy group Wyoming Equality traveled to Riverton and held a meeting. In an auditorium at Central Wyoming College, supporters and members of Riverton’s LGBTQ community gathered to talk about a history of intolerance, the hope they saw in their community and the challenges they still face.
Some recalled a 2016 suicide in Gillette. An openly-gay young man killed himself following years of being harassed and bullied, his family said. The bullying his family and friends described in a Casper Star-Tribune article included vandalism to his car.
Attendees listen at a meeting held in Riverton by LGBTQ-advocacy group Wyoming Equality following a local radio host’s homophobic remarks. (Andrew Graham/WyoFile)
Birbari’s interview had opened old fears in a state and town where intolerance has dogged them before, the meeting attendees said. 
“It’s the kind of language that makes people feel it’s OK to cause me grave harm,” said Debra East, a longtime resident of Lander who is openly gay.

And the car?

Carey’s car was vandalized on a Saturday — Jimmy Mena’s day off from his job at Fremont Auto Reconditioning, a car detailing service. A transplant from Los Angeles, Mena has lived in Riverton off and on for 9-10 years, he told WyoFile. Tattoos cover his forearms, wrists, and part of his neck.
He was driving down Main Street, from Central Wyoming College, and he saw a silver car. “She was making a left and I was coming right behind her and I noticed it said ‘lesbo’ on the side,” he said.
Mena tried to pull up and flag the driver but couldn’t, he said. He lost the car somewhere along the route. He went home instead and posted a message to a community Facebook group with his phone number. He left out what the vandalism said, but told the victim to get in touch with him so he could clean up their car.
Word of the post reached Carey’s family the same Saturday. Her father contacted Mena and brought the car in. Removing something that big, “it takes some time,” Mena said. But he got it done and he did it for free. 
Mena didn’t know the circumstances of the vandalism, or that the target was a high-school student until being interviewed for this story. 
“To me … It’s bullying,” he said. “I don’t stand for that bullying shit.”
Mena had not heard about Birbari, or the interview that eventually got him suspended from the air and horrified Riverton’s LGBTQ community. 
He didn’t clean the car for political reasons or to make a statement. “It’s people’s lives,” he said. “It’s what they do, it’s how they get along it’s how they live. If that’s their peaceful way of living then so be it.”
Carey and Mena haven’t met. She was too upset at the time, she said. “I felt really bad for not talking to him but I’m super grateful to him,” she said.
Over the course of the spring, Carey reapplied herself at school and her grades quickly came back up.
“It was always my biggest fear coming into high school that something traumatic would happen like this,” Carey said. “And then it did and it kind of made me a stronger person.”
This Page was published on WyoFile by:
Andrew Graham
By Andrew Graham who is reporting for WyoFile from Laramie. He covers state government, energy and the economy. Reach him at 443-848-8756 or at, follow him @AndrewGraham88

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