Lest we forget: Fayetteville has been a community where violence has been committed against the gay community | Street Jazz

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Lest we forget: Fayetteville has been a community where violence has been committed against the gay community

Posted By on Tue, Dec 9, 2014 at 11:37 PM

While no doubt those who were trembling at the thought of sending their sons and daughters into public restrooms alone can now sleep the sleep of the just (and the paranoid), and those who also relish the idea of turning away business from those they find yucky can run up and down the streets in victory, it might be a good time to quietly reflect on the fact that, though some might vociferously deny it, in the not-so-recent past, Fayetteville hasn’t been such a healthy place for those who have been gay, or even the children of those who have been gay.

Admittedly, my source for this is my own writing, included in my book, Ozark Mosaic, but you aren’t likely to find these facts recorded in any other books in the library.

In 1999, I served as minor consultant (though I never actually checked to see if I got any screen credit) for an A&E - when they still did quality programming - program on anti-gay hate crimes. The episode of Investigative Reports took a look at incidents which had happened the country, including Fayetteville.

A&E told the story of Allen Walker, murdered after being picked up in a local gay bar by two men. The program also told the story of William Wagner.

In 1996, I wrote about William Wagner, an openly gay Fayetteville High School student who was brutally beaten by fellow students on his lunch break. Eating lunch at the Hogwash Laundry on University Avenue, William and some of his friends were waylaid by two vehicles of young men.

After separating him from his friends, they began attacking him. Fighting back, he heard the words, “Fucking queer.”

When it was all over, William Wagner went to the hospital with a broken nose and damaged kidneys. He continued to receive threats, even after the beating.

During that same period, a young girl - who was not gay, but had two mothers - was physically harassed and beaten up on a regular basis at Woodland Junior High School.

Since that time we have had isolated incidents of idiots shouting things out of car windows, and, of course, the paranoid nonsense which came about as a result of the failed Human Dignity Resolution in 1999, culminating in the Washington County Quorum Court stripping gay employees of job protections they had enjoyed for many years.

Some of the Internet posts I have read on various news websites in recent weeks have been just as ignorant as if they had been written in 1964, and not 2014.

So for the folks who want to trumpet their victory tonight, based largely on fear and ignorance . . . well, just don’t try saying that Fayetteville has always been gay-friendly.

******

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To get annoyed will only serve to encourage the meddlesome. - Baltasar Gracian

rsdrake@cox.net

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