Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Lesbians Thrown Out of Texas Bar, Then Beaten in Possible Hate Crime

Julie Ward says she and her friends were held and beaten for being lesbians (KVUE News image)

Weir, Texas – A group of lesbians say that they were thrown out of a local bar and then held and beaten because of their sexual orientation. Weir, Texas is a town of 500+ souls in Northeast Williamson County, east of Georgetown and north of Austin. Julie Ward, her sister, sister-in-law, and another friend stopped in the Bunkhouse Bar, the only place to get an adult drink in the town, late on Sunday, according to the Dallas Voice. Ward, one of the victims in the crime, said to KVUE News that she and her party got beers and started playing pool.  A female employee of the Bunkhouse approached them to tell them the bar “didn’t serve [their] type,” that they were not welcome there, and to see them out the door. When the group of women moved outside, patrons of the bar followed them into the parking lot, seized them, and commenced to beat them while hurling anti-lesbian slurs at them.

Ward says that women held them while the men from the bar beat them.  She told KVUE: “As we came outside into the parking lot, we were followed by the patrons of the bar and our arms were held back by women and we were beaten by men. A man told me if I was going to look like a man, I better be able to take a hit like a man, and I was punched in the face at that moment and hit the ground.” Ward continued: “We’re just people too. We’re normal people that wanted to be in a bar. We wanted to spend our money there. We wanted to play pool there and because of our sexuality we weren’t welcome.”  Ward, her friend, and her sister suffered multiple scrapes, bruises, and cuts on their arms and legs from the beating.

A bar spokeswoman says that “sexual preference” didn’t cause the attack.  In her version of the incident, the lesbians were “rough housing,” and were asked to leave.  No explanation was given of why patrons of the bar followed the victims outside, held and beat them. Weir residents are making the customary defense of their hometown, saying that things like a lesbian beat-down don’t occur in their close knit community.

The Williamson County Sheriff’s Department says that the investigation is ongoing, and if a hate crime was perpetrated, then the case will be treated as a bias crime at that time. No arrests in the beating have yet been announced.

April 24, 2012 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-Gay Hate Groups, Beatings and battery, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Slurs and epithets, Texas, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Marine Murdered in Possible Anti-Gay Hate Crime

Philip Bushong, 23, called homophobic slur and stabbed to death by a fellow U.S. Marine

Washington, D.C. – A U.S. Marine was attacked and stabbed through the heart by a fellow Marine who allegedly ignited the fight by calling him an anti-gay slur.  Philip Bushong, 23, was fatally stabbed with a pocket knife on Saturday in the Barracks Row section of D.C. by 20-year-old Michael Poth, according to reports in WTNH News. Gravely wounded, Bushong was rushed to a nearby hospital where he died about an hour later. The stabbing took place near the Marine Barracks and the home of the U.S. Marines Commandant–a bustling section of the U.S. Capitol with shops, restaurants, and residences that is normally thought to be safe because of its proximity to the military barracks.

Witnesses told DC police that Poth called Bushong the homophobic slur as the two Marines passed each other on the sidewalk at about 2:40 a.m., according to the Washington Post.  Bushong, who apparently had never met Poth, took exception to the slur, and the fight erupted in front of a sporting goods store. The DC Metro Police are taking the lead on the investigation of Bushong’s murder, assisted by the Naval Crime Investigative Service.  Poth was charged Monday with second degree murder, according to WJLA News 7. Bail was denied at the request of representatives of the Marine Corps, and Poth will go to court the next time on May 15. Defense attorneys allege self-defense on their client’s part. When Poth was arrested by Marine guards and told that Bushong was on his way to the hospital, he allegedly told them, “Good! I hope he dies!” Carolyn Eaves, a worker a block away from the scene of the crime, told News 7, “Sad. Two families… now destroyed “We have to learn not to call people names, you know. Got to be on our Ps and Qs all the time. Sad.”

Because of the report of the homophobic slur, hate crimes protocols are being observed in the investigation, and the Gay and Lesbian Task Force of the Metro Police have been brought in.  The Advocate reports that OutServe, the first openly gay and lesbian active duty military advocacy organization in the nation, issued a statement on the killing over the weekend.  In part, the statement reads: “We are troubled by the specter that this might have been a hate crime; if so, we anticipate the authorities will pursue it to the fullest extent of the law. This is particularly upsetting since, overall, gay and lesbian Marines have been accepted and treated equally in the force since repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ We look forward to the results of a swift and thorough investigation of this tragic incident.” 

Bushong, a Marine since 2007, was stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.  A native of Enfield, Connecticut, he was described by friends and fellow Marines as a fun-loving person who enjoyed his life. Funeral arrangements in Connecticut have not been released to the public at the time of this report.

Hate speech has the capacity to inflame young men, in particular. What prompted one Marine to sling an anti-gay epithet at the other is not known, but neither young man is believed to be gay. The language of violence attached to homophobia is still strong enough to infuriate people like no other speech in our time, and turn otherwise sensible people into combatants, as in this awful case in the nation’s capitol. The Marines have traditionally been felt to have a higher degree of homophobia than the other armed forces, but recent accounts seemed to indicate that the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was going well in the Corps. It seems there is much work left to do, however, until young men like these no longer feel that accusations of homosexuality are intolerable to their manhood.

April 24, 2012 Posted by | Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Connecticut, Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT), GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, Metropolitan Police (D.C.), OutServe, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, stabbings, U.S. Marines, Washington, D.C. | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Marine Murdered in Possible Anti-Gay Hate Crime

   

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