© Robert Sommers 2018

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Southern Hospitality

The neighbor really doesn't like you. You are a lesbian couple living in the south. She says, "I'm going to burn your house down, and I'm going to kill you." She decides to tell you a little joke. "What's better than one dead queer? Two dead queers. "

Trouble starts soon after you move into your dream house. Lug nuts are loosened on your trailer. Nails are strewn in your driveway. Your dog is poisoned, after the neighbor threatens to do just that. The neighbor, Janice Millsaps, allegedly enters their home while they are away repeatedly, according to the police complaint. She also allegedly makes the statement, "there’s bodies in these hills that no one will ever find,’... and that she "takes care of things the old-fashioned way, the Millsaps way."

Carol Ann and Laura Stutte install spotlights and security fencing. They file a report on the harassment with the Monroe County Sheriff last August.

The couple goes to Nashville for an anniversary dinner and get a call during dinner that their house is on fire. They return to find it burnt down, with the word Queers spray painted on the garage. They see the neighbor, who points to the burnt out site and laughs.

Their insurance company, American National Property & Casualty Company, refuses to make a payment or help them with living expenses, even though they have a policy which states "“If a loss covered under this section makes the residence premises uninhabitable, we cover any necessary increase in living expenses incurred by you so that your household can maintain its normal standard of living for up to 24 months.” They finally make them a total offer of six hundred bucks and change, five months later. Total.

Sheriff is still investigating and neither they or the FBI will call it a hate crime. "We really have not seen enough evidence yet to call it a hate crime," Sheriff Bill Bivens said. "There are indicators, don't get me wrong, although we are still investigating."

It is awful that people still have to go through this sort of thing in America. You can help the Stutte's by helping pressure their insurance company through this link on Change.org.


Anonymous said...

Hi, Robert,

Tried to make a comment but you know how wordy us homos can be! Couldn't edit my thoughts down to three hundred characters so I'm sending it to you, not the blog:

Robert, Here's to you and your open heart! From a San Francisco queer to a straight man in Fallbrook: These incidents are one of the main reasons I've been working on the Rainbow Walk. Gay women and men are still being targeted all the time and the system is blind to "lavender" bullseyes... No, that's not the color of a fag's rectum...It's the color of the marks on the foreheads of the bigots who target us. Let them be known for who they are whenever anyone looks them in the face: A lavender HHH at the center of a small bullseye between the eyes which stands for Hpitiful(the "H" is silent) Hater of Homosexuals.

"Queers" painted on the side of a house which arson destroyed, where the poisoned dog used to live reached by the road strewn with nails and lug nuts, "uncovered" by the insurance company which is blind, and unprotected by the County Sheriff who is blind, befriended not by the neighbors who are blind. A man is nailed to a fence in Wyoming and left to die. A young transgender girl , Gwen Araujo, in Newark, California is beaten to death for being who she is.

Little boys and girls all across the country hang and shoot themselves not simply for being gay, for being PERCEIVED as gay whether they were or not, month after month, children like your children, and some of your readers laugh and give you shit for blogging about our project in San Francisco to honor great gay women and men from throughout history, from all over the world, to try to educate and bring about constructive change in the world..."Don't bend over on your way to Pacific Heights." Ha, ha, ha.....

(to be cont.)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing our information. Clearly, even FRIENDS of gay people still take shit for it! And they don't understand why for us it is a matter of civil rights. Sixty years after the formation of the Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis, the two first openly gay and lesbian organizations in America, the land of the free and the home of the brave, and we still can't marry, and we can serve in the military, men OR women We CAN get our arms and legs blown off, or our heads, but we can't be open about those we love in the process. Land of the free; home of the brave.... NOT a struggle for Civil Rights for gay people? Give me break. Would any American man or woman of any other demographic allow themselves to be subjected to these humiliations and think it just? I'm just sayin'...

Oh for a world in which people have no time to hate. You and many others are working to make change for all peaceful people. May we succeed in that effort and open the eyes of those blinded by fear of the unknown which breeds hatred out of ignorance. Let them see a truth greater than that ignorance. Let them be humbled and changed. Life is too short for hate to rule our actions. We all deserve to live together and spend our days in peace.
Thanks again for your enlightened views. In brotherhood and in Struggle, My best, Isak

Emergefit said...

After two such well-though comments, I have little I can add to the conversation but to ask, all crimes against individuals are hate crimes, yes...? rc

Carla lewis said...

@Emergefit: "Hate Crime" is an attempt to make a legal definition of a crime that has "lack of parity" in investigation, prosecution, and sentencing.

While any crime itself is deserving of just and equal punishment regardless of the victim, it is precisely that reason we have hate crime laws. If a murder usually gets 20 years in a particular jurisdiction, but in a case where the victim was transgender the prosecutor may only be seeking 18 months. This IS NOT uncommon. Hate crime laws are supposed to make the playing field even, not necessarily create additional punishment above and beyond the norm.

Think of hate crimes in this way: Crime that is generally tolerated by the larger community because the victim belongs to an oppressed class of people.