Just so you know, cherubs, while writing this column I really struggled to not sound like a complete dick. So for better or worse, here goes.
Over the last few months we have seen three savage beatings of gay men in South Salt Lake and Salt Lake City that have been ignored by prosecutors and buried by their respective police agencies. These are vicious crimes that didn’t occur in a small redneck town in Texas or Wyoming, but in a major metropolitan area with an established gay infrastructure and the largest population density of gays and lesbians in the state. So here is my question: Where oh where was the GLBT Public Safety Liaison Committee in all of this?
Remember them? This was the committee that was designed to mesh gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people and public safety agencies together to promote crime prevention, and to provide a safe independent channel for gay folks to report crime without fear of reprisal. These were the guys charged with dispersing critical information to the gay community during crisis. Yeah, where were they?
Consider this, muffins: The attack on Dan Fair and DJ Bell occurred July 4 and the first sign of life from the GLBT Public Safety Committee was on Sept. 8 when Captain Kyle Jones of the SLCPD submitted an article to QSaltLake titled “Staying Safe During a Shooting.” Say what?
Don’t get me wrong. I have always had a great respect for Kyle and his advocacy for our community, and there was some good information in the article should you ever get caught in the middle of a workplace shooting. And yes, I understand the logic about sitting facing a door at a restaurant so you can see who comes in (then again, watching an episode of The Sopranos could teach you that). But let’s face it, pumpkins, the odds of a mass shooting happening or of being caught in one are statistically tiny. I can’t help but wonder why when people commit actual harassment, hate crimes, assaults, drug-related crimes and property crimes against gay men does the Public Safety Committee comes out from under the Cone of Silence to give us a primer on mall shootings? I was completely gobsmacked!
The ugly truth, darlings, is that our gay sex drive, our affinity for a good time and our genetic predisposition for Long Island Iced Teas often places us in situations where we shouldn’t be. These are potential crime scenes waiting to happen. We are walking around parties and bars impaired, incapable of assessing our surroundings and risks. We are hooking up with strangers we meet on the internet in unsafe places and with little recourse if anything goes wrong. We turn a blind eye to the drug use that is all around us, despite the fact that many of us have had horrendous experiences with meth addicts.
These things are the reality for those members of community who are at an elevated risk for victimization. Our crime prevention messages need to be aimed right at them and especially at our younger men who think they are invincible. We need to acknowledge that some of our folks operate in an area that is not black and white. It’s murky and subjective, and that’s why these folks are so hesitant to report crimes against themselves or others.
So my request to the GLBT Public Safety Committee is this. How about some really practical advice targeted specifically for our community. Like, how do I get from the bar to my car safely? How do I protect myself from former partners or roommates who are addicted to meth? How do I report a burglary or assault from a guy I met online? Where can I go for help with same-sex domestic violence? How and to whom do I report a robbery if I shared drugs with guy?
I understand these are not pretty topics. But I guarantee, honest responses would save lives, bring victims out of the shadows, and send a message to criminals targeting the gay community that there are consequences, and they will be apprehended and punished. Maybe one day, even in South Salt Lake. Who knows!