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March 5, 2009


Last September I reported on a gay bar in Galveston, Texas that survived Hurricane Ike (barely) and became a kind of a defacto community center for everyone, straight and gay, who stayed behind to ride-out the storm and protect their property from looters.

The bar, known as Robert’s Lafitte, was one of the only businesses left standing. After the owner and his friends saw that the building still seemed to be structurally sound, they cleaned out the standing waters and layers of mud and reopened - even before power was back on. Their hope was to somehow help the survivors who lost most, if not all, of what they had.

They collected donated food and supplies dropped off by the community itself to help feed and clothe those who needed it most and proceeded to put on drag shows (even without power) to lift people's spirits. It became a shinning light in the midst of widespread destruction. To this day, the bar still has a number of straight patrons who regularly stop by.

Sadly, at around 8pm on Sunday, March 1st, two brothers, Lawrence Henry Lewis III, 20, and Lawrneil Henry Lewis, 18, and their cousin, Alejandro Sam Gray, 17 decided to attack the bar and its patrons for no other reason than to target homosexuals. One held the door open while the other two hurled large rocks and chunks of concrete at the patrons inside, all the while yelling homophobic slurs.

According to an article at Chron.com, the Houston & Texas news service, there was an estimated 25 to 30 people inside at the time. Marc Bosaw, 57, who was at the bar with his partner, James Troy Nickelson, 39, said he was shocked by the ambush.

“I thought with all the things going on, especially politically, that we would be more accepted and not just randomly attacked,” said Bosaw, a disabled U.S. Navy veteran. “I don’t see any room for hate right now.”

Bosaw said he had just sat down on a barstool about 5 feet from the door. He was sipping wine and visiting with friends when he felt a violent blow to the back of his head.

“I dropped my wine and reached with my left hand to the back of my head, and another rock hit my arm and ricocheted off,” Bosaw said. “I stood up thinking someone was robbing me and checked my wallet.” Bosaw then began to collapse, so his partner and friends carried him to a pool table, pressing a cold cloth to his head wound to stanch the bleeding. “Everything kind of went white all around me,” he said.

Nickelson, also struck in the head by the same rock, and at least four other patrons then went outside and chased the attackers. During the pursuit, one of the attackers threw a brick, which struck Nickelson’s jaw.

Galveston police caught the suspects about 10 blocks away. The three men are charged with felony assault and Jennifer Ott, prosecutor for the Galveston County District Attorney’s Office, said that they would pursue the hate crimes enhancements as well. This would be only the second time those enhancements have been attached to a case in Galveston even though there have been 10 hate crimes reported to the Galveston police since 2004.

If a jury convicts them of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and agrees they committed a hate crime, the three could face an elevated punishment of five to 99 years or even life in prison.

Until the Mormon and Catholic churches and the evangelical, right wing, religious fanatics stop demonizing gay people and stop spreading their vicious and cruel lies about who we are, this kind of thing is not only going to continue, it's going to get even uglier.

You can help stop this. Simply talk to your families, friends, priests, pastors and clergy and tell them that you don't agree with that kind of hate mongering.

If you think it would too hard for you to take a stand like that, just think about how hard it is for a gay person to go out into the public knowing that they have a big christian target painted on their back. This hatred can be stopped but only if YOU choose not to stay silent. It's the right and Christian thing to do. And I know you know that.