You heard of the Gay Panic Defense? This was the Gay Panic Offense.
About a hundred people showed up in the middle of an unrelenting downpour to hear community leaders voice everyone’s outrage over the police raid of The Eagle, a peaceful gay bar in Atlanta.
The best speaker by far, was Patti Ellis, the mother of two boys–one straight; one gay. Patti is one of the co-founders of the emotionally wrenching Family Acceptance, a site that helps conservative southern parents accept their gay children. At the end of her speech people were shouting, “We’re your kids too!”
I’d rather publish the text of her speech, but she did it off the top of her head, angering the rest of us who spent time preparing and still couldn’t hold a candle to her. Instead, you’ll have to settle for mine:
First, let me say what everybody’s thinking and nobody’s saying: forcing anybody to lay face down on the grubby floors of that bar constitutes a human rights violation under the terms of the Geneva Convention!
I mean, I’d rather be water boarded.
It’s a good thing the raid didn’t happen somewhere like Blake’s, where the crowd is younger, meaner and drunker. Imagine the police bursting into Blake’s in the middle of one of their drag shows when one of those queens was trying to hit the high note on her finale.
Oh. My. God.
There would have been a riot. The cops could’ve been killed! We can’t let this happen because there aren’t enough cops in the street as it is.
My point, and I do have one, is that this protest has nothing to do with The Eagle. It’s not about defending this bar, it’s about protecting the next one. Because if we don’t draw a line in the sand, these raids are going to happen again and again.
It’s my personal belief that the raid on The Eagle was motivated in part by a deep hatred and fear of gay people. You heard of the Gay Panic Defense? This was the Gay Panic Offense.
How else can you explain the police’s judgment that the possibility of two men making out in the corner of a bar poses a greater threat to this city than rape, robbery or murder?
How else can you explain a mentality that says the possibility of a handjob is more dangerous than the reality of a home invasion?
Over 50 crimes a day occur in the city of Atlanta and the police diverted up to 30 cops into a gay bar to arrest 8 people dancing in their underwear?
Gay panic. The belief that gay people pose a greater risk to the city than crooks, criminals and convicts.
I want to say this as plainly and bluntly as I can:
We got mugged by the police.
They stuck a gun in our ribs and said, “Give it up or else.”
They stole our dignity the way crooks steal our wallets.
The standard advice when you get mugged is Don’t Resist. We didn’t. But as any cop will tell you, the key to avoiding future muggings is not to make yourself vulnerable. Because muggers are always looking for an easy target.
Is that what we want to be? An easy target? Or do we want to take defensive maneuvers and make sure we never get mugged by the police again?
DON’T BE A VICTIM.