Gay Seattle Family Targeted for Hate, Respond with Pride
A West Seattle gay family targeted for hate crimes by vandals have responded with plans for upgrades: Floodlights, better locks--and a Pride flag, reported local news source King5.com on Sept. 25.
Vandals attacked the property of Lyle Evans and Chris Ilovar, West Seattle residents, just after midnight on Sept. 24. The couple’s cars were damaged, possibly by two men neighbors saw in the neighborhood. The vandals slashed the tires on both cars and threw large rocks through one car’s back window and the other’s passenger-side window, shattering them. A piece of paper wrapped around one rock bore a threatening note signed "KKK," the news article said.
The threatening message read, "God Hates Fags! Get the fuck out of our neighborhood," reported West Seattle Blog.
"The bible says God forbids men committing indecent act [sic] with other men," the typewritten missive continued. "Pack up your shit and get you [sic] gay shit out."
Ilovar told West Seattle Blog that he had obtained a description of two suspects from a neighbor who spoke to the men.
"After speaking with my neighbors, one was outside around midnight last night," Ilovar informed the blog on Sept. 24. "He did witness 2 while males walking up the alley behind our house. He did ask both if they were all right and they responded that everything was fine. He thought it was odd that people were walking the alley that late at night.
"He didn’t get a good look at their face as the alley doesn’t have much lighting" Ilovar added. "First was described as around 5’10′ish with a stocky, muscular build. The other was around 5’7″ with a chubby build. Both were wearing black."
Police have listed the incident as malicious harassment, but to the two men it’s clearly a hate crime, the article reported.
"It feels like a violation," Evans told the media, adding that the hate crime targeting him and his spouse was "really shocking because you don’t think things like this happen anymore, especially in Seattle, Washington."
Washington State offers comprehensive civil unions that give same-sex couples all the same state-level rights and protections as marriage. Moreover, Microsoft, one of the nation’s most gay-friendly employers, is based in the Seattle area.
Anti-gay violence is rare, but not unheard of in Seattle. Two years ago Isaiah Kalebu, now 25, broke into the home of a lesbian couple, and raped and stabbed them. One of the women died. Kalebu also offered a religious rationale for the rapes and attacks: "I was there and I was told by my God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to attack my enemies, and I did so," he told the court at his trial this past summer. Kalebu was found guilty of murder, attempted murder, rape, and robbery in July, and faces a life sentence.
Milder forms of anti-gay bias also continue in the largely GLBT-friendly city. Earlier this month, a Seattle cabbie reportedly tossed four gay men out of his vehicle and told them, "[Y]ou make me sick to my stomach" after one of the men kissed his boyfriend in the back seat.
"I gave Patrick--that’s my boyfriend--a little kiss," one of the man, Victor Nevarez, told EDGE in a Sept. 24 article. "It wasn’t anything like [the HBO program] ’Cab Confessions’... nothing obscene."
"It was literally a kiss," Nevarez’s boyfriend, Patrick McKenzie, agreed. "We weren’t, like, mauling each other in the backseat."
The men registered a complaint about the treatment to which they were subjected. The taxi service, Orange Cab Company, told EDGE that the driver would face disciplinary action.
"This driver has been with us since 2005," said general manager Pat Binion. "He has no disciplinary record at all. That said it’s inappropriate for him to make remarks to passengers and to put them out short of their destination."
The attack against Evans and Ilovar took place even as anti-gay group the National Organization for Marriage, which works to deny gay and lesbian families legal recognition and to roll back marriage equality in the states where it is currently legal, has set about launching a new initiative to paint gays as lawless thugs who menace law-abiding Christians.
NOM has long touted GLBTs as foes of religious liberty and people of faith. The group’s new affiliate, the Marriage Anti-Defamation Alliance, serves as a platform on which to place so-called victims of gay thugs.
Ever since playing a major role in the successful push to rescind the marriage rights of gay and lesbian families at the ballot box in California with the anti-gay measure Proposition 8, NOM has made a mythology of the so-called victimization of anti-gay activists who, according to the group, saw their property vandalized and their families threatened. Such purported harassment is the official reason given for NOM’s refusal to provide its donor lists to state election officials in California and in Maine, where NOM also played a role in a voter initiative to repeal marriage equality in 2009.
NOM took its efforts not to have to obey state election laws to the Supreme Court, where they lost the case--and where famously conservative justice Antonin Scalia scorned the argument that the donor lists should be kept secret for fear of retaliation from putative gay thugs.
Similarly, proponents of Prop 8 argued that the video records from the federal case brought against the anti-gay ballot measure should be suppressed, again claiming that the two witnesses provided by advocates of the measure would be placed at risk if the public was allowed to see them.
A federal judge disagreed ruling last week that the video records should be released to the public. Marriage equality advocates say that the video records will be instructive to the public at large as to how weak the case justifying the anti-gay ballot measure was, and note that the pro-marriage side had no such qualms about putting their 18 witnesses before the public eye. (An appeals court has stopped the video release, at least temporarily.)
Most of the cases of "vandalism" in the tense weeks leading up to the vote on Proposition 8 were to yard signs, and both sides saw such "vandalism" taking place, though NOM does not mention this. Nor does NOM acknowledge cases of anti-gay assault, vandalism, and even arson. Instead, the anti-gay group continues to paint gays as lawless ruffians who think nothing of intimidating and threatening innocent Christians who simply wish to denigrate the GLBT community as an expression of their religious faith.
"We want to hear your story, connect you with others who share your deepest beliefs, with legal and other practical help, and with other Americans of good will, who (regardless of their views on marriage) want to put a stop to the shaming and the fear mongering of our fellow citizens," the new Alliance says in a solicitation for testimonials.
The testimonial does not solicit similar stories of "shaming and fear mongering" in which gays are the targets, such as the vicious bullying that authorities believe led to the recent suicide of Buffalo, N.Y. gay teen Jayme Rodemeyer, the suicide one year ago of Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi, or any of the other suicides of GLTB youths over the last year and a half that has prompted a new national dialogue on the problem of anti-gay bullying.
But as the facts on the ground continue to illustrate that gays are far more often the target of violence and intimidation than the perpetrators, American culture simultaneously has become much more accepting of gay individuals and their families. Recent polls showed majority support for the first time of families like Ilovar and Evans to wed legally.
As for the two West Seattle men, they say that the attacks have drawn their neighborhood closer around them, with nearby residents expressing their support.
"If the intent was to destroy or to oppress that’s not really working," Evans told local news station KCPQ. "It’s having the opposite effect. So, it’s making everyone in the community really rise up and come together and be positive and be open and vigilant around what’s happening in our neighborhood."
Moreover, the men are not about to be cowed by a midnight attack against their property. They will be installing improved security, including motion detector-operated floodlights, King5.com reported. But they also have set up a flagpole, where they will fly Old Glory right along with a Pride flag.
"Awesome," Evans said of the new fixture. "Take that, haters."