Recent Gay Bashings Trouble Community

Two separate attacks on young gay couples took place in Baltimore within two weeks of each other that has caused the community to be concerned about safety.

The first occurred on May 28 after midnight outside the Cathedral Court Apartments near Read Street. Jeremy Smith said he was coming home from a bar with his fiancé and a group of six black men, according to the police report, came up from behind. “I think they were hiding or I was just oblivious to their presence,” Smith said. “They said just take it and jumped us. They were saying some pretty hateful stuff.” Smith said they were calling the men “bitches” and “queers” during the attack.

Both men were beaten in their faces with closed fists and were stomped on. They were robbed of money, identification and cell phones. The stolen phones had an estimated value of $700, and $80 in cash was taken. Smith said a man down the street heard the screams and called the police. The men received minor treatment at the scene but refused to go to the hospital for further medical care.

“The worst part about it all was getting everything back in order like new cards, ID’s, Social Security card, filing fraud alerts, applying for new cell phones, doctor visits, getting checked out, and the loss of being carefree thinking my part of the city was a nice place,” he said.

The victims were unable to provide detailed descriptions of the attackers, who fled on foot. They are recovering from their wounds and the case is still open.

The second incident, which received a good deal of publicity, took place on June 11. A 25-year-old gay man, Steven Lemmerman, also known by his DJ name DJ Lemz, was attacked along with his partner Stuart Parlier on the corner of Charles and Fayette streets in downtown Baltimore. They were walking back from a drag show at Soundstage when they were attacked.

Lemmerman provided the following detailed account via email:

“The driver was sitting at the red light going west on Fayette, and since no one was diving up Charles, the green light, we decided to cross. Stu walks faster than me typically so he was up ahead. As we crossed, we were serving catwalk model walking in the crosswalk.

“The second he saw us doing that, he sped his car up and pulled up to me. I noticed the car as it was coming at me and my hand went down on the hood out of pure instinct and reaction to a vehicle approaching that quickly. I did not stand there and deliberately hit the hood. The car stopped within inches of my body, if not, an inch. It was a deliberate intimidation move.

“A second or two later the driver side door flew open and we are fairly certain we both heard ‘f*****g faggots!’ as the door was opening. At this point Stu was about 15-20 feet away from everything happening. He was approaching the northwest corner of the intersection when the attacker started to go after him. The car ordeal was happening on the northeast side.

“Stu finally noticed the commotion behind him and he turned around. The attacker must have been hoping for a surprise hit because when Stu turned around, he did too. He then went after me and landed multiple blows to the head. The first hit was with his left fist to my right eye. After that he punched the back of my head, my mouth, and then my nose. Stu at this point was screaming for help and my nose started profusely bleeding, so the attacker ran back into his car and sped off. I suffered a black eye, pain in my head, a sore nose, and a chipped front tooth, which was also cracked in the back. No items were stolen from us; this was purely a hate crime.”

Lemmerman described his attacker as being “light skinned” to the City Paper and driving a light “Creamsicle-colored” orange sports car. He had recalled being the victim of a gay bashing three years ago when he hosted a club night at the Get Down in Fells Point.

“Central District officers are continuing to investigate this incident as a hate crime,” said Det. Jeremy Silbert, a Baltimore City Police Department spokesperson. “Anyone with information is asked to call 410-396-2411.”

PW’s Loses Liquor License

PW’s Sports Bar and Grill located on Route 1 and Whiskey Bottom Road in North Laurel has been Howard County’s only gay bar for over a decade. Known for its numerous drag shows, leather contests, Karaoke, bear nights and charitable bingo events as much as for their tasty meals, PW’s was a popular destination for those in the Baltimore-Washington corridor and beyond. As a result of back taxes owed to the state of Maryland, however, PW’s has lost its license to serve liquor.

The license had been halted effective May 1 after the state officials notified the county’s Liquor Board that owed taxes had not been paid by April 30. As a result, PW’s operating hours were curtailed from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. serving food and nonalcoholic beverages only.

On June 9, the Liquor Board met and officially deemed the license “dead,” according to Board Administrator Denise King.

PW’s owner John Cook did not respond to a request for comment but a spokesman for the bar, Scott Gould, said that they are actively pursuing a buyer for the business with the hope of retaining its LGBT identity.

King said that any new owner would have to apply for a liquor license rather than seek a license transfer from the current ownership since the license is dead. There is a vigorous application process, and if approved by the board, the new license owner, who must be a Howard County resident, would be required to pay an annual fee in the amount of $1,000.

Over the years, PW’s distinguished itself by its involvement with community causes. Organizations, such as Equality Maryland; Grassroots; The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS foundation; and PFLAG-Howard County are among those who benefitted from numerous “drag bingo” fundraisers. In addition, PW’s had been active in local sports leagues, mainly softball and bowling, whereby they had sponsored teams.

PW’s announced that Sunday, June 21 was their last Sunday brunch.

Overlea Woman Launches ‘Relentlessly Gay’ Campaign

Julie Baker, a homeowner from the Overlea community in Baltimore County just northeast of the city line, woke up the morning of June 16 and found a note affixed to her door that has certainly changed her life.

The typewritten note read: “Dear Resident of 4900 Kenwood Ave., Your yard is becoming Relentlessly Gay! Myself and Others in the neighborhood ask that you Tone It Down. This is a Christian area and there are Children. Keep it up and I will be Forced to call the Police on You! Your kind need to have respect for GOD. A Concerned Home Owner.”

The note ostensibly referred to a string of rainbow-colored solar light jar lamps made from jars she had hung outside her house. Baker, 47, who identifies as bisexual, established a GoFundMe effort to become even more “relentlessly gay.” The note and her response have gone viral.

On the GoFundMe page she wrote: “Needless to say… I need more rainbows… Many, many more rainbows…. […]So, I am starting this fundraiser so I can work to make my Home even More “relentlessly gay” If we go high enough, I will see if I can get a Rainbow Roof! […] Because my invisible relentlessly gay rainbow dragon should live up there in style!

“I think they choose to think of all rainbow stuff as being gay,” Baker said in an email. “I cannot figure out how or why they actually jumped to that conclusion. Just… I don’t know.. closed minds and closed hearts??”

On June 23, Baker updated her GoFundMe page: “I want to humbly thank everyone for their extreme generosity. Please now, take all of this good energy and help each other. […] Please carry on with flooding the world with rainbows and joy, be relentlessly generous, be relentlessly compassionate, be relentlessly vibrant and stay relentlessly gay.”

As of June 24, over $43,000 was raised.

Gay Life July 2015

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