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September 17, 2008


I'm sure, by now, everyone has seen the devastation caused by hurrican Ike in Galveston, Texas. Thousands of homes were turned into nothing more than matchsticks, flooding covered almost everything and all power and water were knocked out.

Although people were warned to leave before the storm, some stayed hoping to protect their homes and keepsakes from the scavengers who would certainly swarm the area after the storm passed.

In the aftermath, those who stayed realized how lucky they were to still be alive. But the problem of surviving without food and water until help came quickly became very serious.

During this critical time, help surfaced from one of the only businesses still left standing. A popular gay bar known as Robert’s Lafitte.

Owner Big Mouth Robert (as he is known to locals) said that the bar's windows were blown out and three feet of water gushed inside during the height of the storm. After the waters receded, they saw that the building still seemed to be sound so they cleaned everything up and reopened the bar.

It quickly became a kind of defacto community center for everyone - straight and gay. People started dropping off food and some supplies at the bar for people in need knowing that it could be months before the city is up and running.

With the help of friends, Robert even started offering his previously scheduled drag show and Tina Turner sing-along. These shows helped keep spirits up and people's minds off the devastation that was just outside the door.

“It’s more than a life saver. This is like the Coast Guard,” Brian DeLeon, a straight man who told Reuters News Service that he had never thought of entering the bar in the past.

“These are the people who take you up out of the water and make life livable. Once I get back to work, I’m coming back here.”

Now, that's how we build trust and mutual respect between straights and gays. Let them see who we really are.

Major kudos to Robert and everyone over there who made this happen.

Sources for this story: 365gay.com and Advocate.com