Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Texas Grandmother Attacks Gay Man With Her Cane; Arrested for Hate Crime

Alleged gay basher, cane-wielding Wanda Derby, 71, arrested for brutally beating a gay man in Richland Hills, Texas while calling him homophobic slurs (Richland Hills PD photo).

Richland Hills, Texas – A 71-year-old grandmother allegedly beat and choked a gay man with her cane, calling him a “faggot” and falsely accusing him of having AIDS.  Wanda Derby of Richland Hills, a suburb of Fort Worth, unleashed her homophobic attack on Wednesday night against a 25-year-old  gay man her son moved in with last week, according to NBCDFW.com.  Derby and her son had been “having issues” for several days, and her son decided to move in with the man and his family who also live in the neighborhood.  Tensions had been mounting for weeks, according to the victim.  Derby allegedly posted several times on Facebook that her son’s friend had AIDS and was going to die from it.  The victim of the attack says he had to reassure his friends the accusation was not true, and that he was disease free.

The victim, who preferred to be unidentified in two news sources but is openly named in a third, says the Wednesday night attack was unprovoked. Derby, he said, struck him with her wooden cane, choked him with the crook of the cane, and then attacked other family members, including the victim’s mother, whom she allegedly slapped in the face.  Derby repeatedly yelled homophobic slurs as she carried on the attack. “I was very offended,” the victim said to MSNBC. “You just don’t go around calling people names because. It’s just not normal.”  he continued, “We finally got the cane and got it away from her and threw it on the ground. And then that’s when I ran around and got inside the house. And then we started trying to shut the door. And she was like, full force, coming.” 

Detective Tye Bell of the Richland Hills Police told the Dallas Voice that the victim suffered multiple bruises on his torso and marks on his neck from the cane.  He was treated by the Richland Hills Police on the scene.  “[Derby’s] statements were very biased toward sexual preference and that gave us the probable cause to file that as a hate crime,” Bell said to Voice reporters.  Derby was arrested Wednesday and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon that may be enhanced due to a hate crimes charge.  Without the hate crimes enhancement, Derby could serve a maximum of 20 years in prison, if found guilty.  With the hate crimes enhancement, she could face a life sentence.  After posting $11,500 bail, she was released on Thursday afternoon from the Richland Hills jail.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that just hours before the gay bashing, Derby wrote on her Facebook page: “My son Steven is no longer my son. He has sided with the idiots next door and I guess he [thinks] they will take care of him. He will never get another thing from me or his dad. We have washed our hands of him.”  Derby was a longtime financial officer of the Mental Health Mental Retardation Association of Tarrant County, and worked for two years at the American Red Cross of Greater Dallas, according to her posts on Facebook.

The victim of Derby’s hate crime, who is an actor, says she deserves to be taught a lesson, and he hopes she receives the full penalty of the law.  He went on to tell the Dallas Voice that he was proud of being gay. “She’s not going to make me feel bad for who I am,” he said. “I’m not changing my lifestyle because someone feels I am a disgrace.”

March 30, 2012 - Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, harassment, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, Slurs and epithets, Texas, women | , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. “The victim of the attack says he had to reassure his friends the accusation was not true, and that he was disease free.”

    Right. Because even if he were HIV positive, it’s not a crime. People are not generally “accused” of having a disease, they are “accused” of crimes. Having HIV is still not a crime. Give the Republicans time. I am sure they’ll get around to it.

    And why are police officers, who should know better, talking about “sexual preference” when they should be citing “sexual orientation?’ Why is that? Do they not receive training in these things or do they still call black people niggers too?

    Another proud day for Texas, eh?

    Comment by Linda Diane McMillan | March 30, 2012

  2. The old lady was definitely in the wrong here, no question; but 20 years to life for a few bruises? A simple assault? That’s totally fucked up and just plain wrong. Hate crimes laws should be for serious injury or death, or the attempt of it – not this kind of domestic dust-up. Some boozed-up rednecks throwing a gay guy into a burning trash barrel, yeah; granny losing it with her son’s lover next door? No.

    That’s neither balanced nor just.

    Comment by Russ Manley | March 30, 2012

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

%d bloggers like this: