Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Gay Panic Excuse Used to Justify Wisconsin Queer Bashing

Queer bashing suspects Jason "Jake" Immel-Rhode (l), and Lyall B. Ziebell (r)

Oshkosh, Wisconsin – Christmas morning erupted in anti-gay violence when two Oshkosh men allegedly assaulted a gay man outside a popular tavern patronized by LGBT people, calling the victim “a stupid faggot” while kicking him in the head. According to The Northwestern.com, Lyall B. Ziebell and Jason “Jake” Immel-Rhode, both 20, were charged with battery causing great bodily harm with a hate crime enhancement which will increase the penalties against the men, if found guilty.  With the hate crime rider, the men could serve as much as  23 years, six months in prison and face $40,000 in fines for the crime.

The criminal complaint states that Ziebell and Immel-Rhode were walking past PJ’s Bar on Oregon Street at approximately 2:15 a.m. on December 25 when the victim offered to buy them a shot of liquor apiece if they would lend him a cigarette.  The three men walked into the bar where the victim made good on his offer for the cigarette.  After finishing their drinks, the three went outside the bar where the assault began almost immediately.  WTAQ reports that the victim suffered a broken jaw and a brain injury from the savage attack.  The criminal complaint also states that the attackers left the scene of the assault to head to Ziebell’s home, and on the way they robbed a Mexican market of cash and pre-paid cell phones. The victim has no doubt, however, that the violence used against him was a response to his being a gay man.

The Northwestern goes on to report that Ziebell admitted to police that he was “very homophobic,” and commenced his assault on the victim when he allegedly “began to hit on me”–clearly a reference to the notorious gay panic defense often invoked in gay bashing trials to suggest that the victim was to blame for the injury done him.  Ziebell also said to police that he heard Immel-Rhode shout that the victim was “a stupid faggot” as he kicked him repeatedly in the head.

Court officials ordered Ziebell and Immel-Rhode bound over to Winnebago County Jail, where they are being held on a minimal bail of $3,000 apiece.  They are to go to court for preliminary hearings on January 5.

December 29, 2011 - Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, Blame the victim, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Slurs and epithets, Stomping and Kicking Violence, Wisconsin | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Gay panic defense? Hah! These guys met him outside of a gay bar, talked to him, walked into the gay bar and had a shot, and THEN they paniced? I don’t think so. They deserve to first be beaten like they beat him, then thrown in a prison cell and left to rot.

    Comment by Kev | January 4, 2012

  2. First I’d like to know why the paper is using the word QUEER??? That is almost as bad as the beating, they should NOT be using such racist remarks, IMHO. Then these guys can get out on $3000????? I can’t believe that. They should have to at least stay in jail as long as it takes the victim to heal. FULLY, not just from the physical injuries, which it sounds like he has a long, sad road ahead of him. Bless his soul & my prayers go out to him, his family, & his friends.

    Comment by Kimm | January 4, 2012

    • Kimm,
      I was upset about the 3K too, but I learned that WI is a non-bail bondsman state, so these guys have to come up with the cash on their own. And the judge takes their personal situations into consideration when setting bond, and these guys don’t have a pot to piss in so 3K is as good at 200K.
      I’m also not thrilled with the “Queer”, but this is from a gay magazine/paper, so they can use those words, supposedly in a bid to “own” those bad words. I’m gay myself but I don’t use the words fag or queer much at all. I learned those words were generally used in a bad way when I was young, and it just stuck. Not that the words were/are bad, but the way they are used is key.

      Comment by Kev | January 5, 2012

    • Queer in this context isn’t being used as a pejorative. They now teach queer theory in college. Chill out.

      Comment by Eshto | January 5, 2012

    • Queer is now commonly used as an umbrella term for people who are LGBT, etc., i.e. often anything other than cisgendered heterosexuals. Also, what does race have to do with it? You said the word queer is racist. I don’t think that’s the word you were looking for. People need to stop using “racist” to mean anything that is bad. It is only “racist” if it has to do with a person’s race.

      Comment by Mark | January 6, 2012

      • Mark,

        You are right, racist is not the word I meant. I think prejudice is more like what I was looking for. I can’t help but say I don’t care where they teach this queer theory at, I was taught, & will always believe, that word to be something bad, as Kev said, it’s the context in which it is used that has been known to be bad for years.

        I have a 25 year old gay son, & I have NEVER heard him use that word to refer to himself or the gay community.

        But, I don’t want to turn this thread into a “B” fest just because I stated my opinion.

        This thread is about the savage beating of a gay man. From the sounds of it was 100% hate crime, gay bashing, call it what you will, it was savage. I found out about this story from a friend of mine, she knows the victim. I have not heard yet how he’s doing, hopefully okay.

        Comment by Kimm | January 8, 2012

      • Kimm,
        He is recovering at home.

        Comment by Kev | January 9, 2012

  3. They also had a theft involved, breaking and entering probably…aside from battery, disorderly conduct, and by the injuries it appears he was lucky he is alive so why not attempted premeditated murder. I only hope they get all of that and be charged with the hate crime!!!!! Little F**cks!! they certainly should not be allowed a 3000 dollar bail..JESSUS!!!

    Comment by Brent D Duckwitz | January 5, 2012

  4. I have know this man for 28 years… No matter gay or not no one should have that happen to them!! I wish we would still have hangings in public….because both of those guys should get the worst that could happen to them

    Comment by Kara | January 5, 2012

  5. These two “Thugs” as I would call them. They need to pay for there crimes. Beating a person just because he’s gay. That’s pathetic!!! They need to bring back ” Capitol Punishment ” an eye for an eye & a tooth for a tooth. How can they justify beating someone up after they went in to a Gay Bar and had a shot & then went back outside and beat this person up. They knew that this was a gay bar. These two thugs I hope and pray that they get what’s coming to them, because if it was me they would definately PAY THE PRICE. My heart goes out to his family & ALL of his friends

    Comment by Wayne W. Weidner | January 6, 2012

  6. You would think that a simple “hey man, thanks for the shot, and I don’t mind giving you a cig, but I’m not really interested in that” would have done just fine.


    Comment by TK | January 9, 2012

  7. The use of the word “queer’ is an empowerment issue. It is also geographical in usage. One of the more popular usages is the term ‘queer gender’ in defining sexual orientation. However, not all gay people embrace the term ‘queer’. With people who have been forced to live with homophobia their whole lives, it should remain a choice issue on whether or not we embrace the term. I use it often to express points, usually around heteros, but not exclusively. However I usually define myself as ‘gay’ rather than ‘queer’.

    Comment by Kevin | January 10, 2012

    • queer   [kweer] Show IPA adjective, -er, -est, verb, noun
      strange or odd from a conventional viewpoint; unusually different; singular: a queer notion of justice.
      of a questionable nature or character; suspicious; shady: Something queer about the language of the prospectus kept investors away.
      not feeling physically right or well; giddy, faint, or qualmish: to feel queer.
      mentally unbalanced or deranged.
      Slang: Disparaging and Offensive .
      effeminate; unmanly.

      retrieved from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/queer

      I realize now that this is an umbrella term but I think it is not right. But that is just my opinion. I still think of it in the terms from a dictionary. I haven’t seen my son in a few days but when he comes over today I am going to ask him his feelings on the word & if he does use it in the umbrella sense.

      Comment by Kim | January 10, 2012

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