Friday, December 26, 2008

Gay establishments: police matters are rare compared to straight bars; tragic incident covered on MSNBC show

Christmas night, MSNBC, at 10 PM EST, broadcast a rerun of a rather unpleasant “Crime and Punishment” series, courtroom drama in the style of “Law and Order”, about what seemed like an apparent shooting and killing in a gay bar in San Diego around 2000.

I will not name the bar here (I think I visited it in 1979), but the drama referred to male partners, and the defendant was a middle aged man with AIDS. In the non-fiction story, he brought a 45 caliber revolver, concealed, into the bar, picked a fight with someone who had a tendency to insult people, tried to shoot the person, grazes, and killed a young, obviously attractive man standing some distance away. The prosecution and defense attorneys were both young women. Eventually, he was convicted of 2nd Degree murder and sentenced to 40 years to life in prison. He died of AIDS in prison in 2003.

Violence in gay establishments from patrons themselves is extremely rare. I was saw a physical fight (over jealousy?) in bar in London (in Soho) in 1982 and the bobbies came, but no damage was done. Over many decades, however, there have been some attacks from a hostile outside world, such as with arson in New Orleans in 1973, the worst case that I ever heard of (when I was “coming out” a second time this was almost the first incident that I heard of). There is a comic horror film on Logo about such incidents (not exactly funny) called “Dead Serious” (on my movies blog).

In Washington DC and adjoining Prince Georges County, MD. a number of “straight” establishments have been closed (with liquor licenses revoked) because of street violence near their establishments. That’s a bit of surprise coming from supposedly politically “liberal” local governments. I don’t think that any establishment should be punished for behavior on public streets near the establishment unless committed by intoxicated patrons leaving the bar. (Bartenders are supposed to be trained not to serve liquor to intoxicated persons.)

In a few cases around the country (including at least once in Washington DC in the 1990s), discos have had both “straight” and “gay” parties on different nights, and have had incidents only at the “straight” parties.

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