Two U. of Wisconsin Co-Eds Victims of Anti-Gay Assaults

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday October 20, 2010

Two women at the University of Wisconsin in Whitewater, Wisc., stepped forward to identify themselves as victims of hate crimes and to encourage dialogue around the subject.

Student publication Royal Purple reported on Oct. 20 that a freshman, Lauren Meyer, and a sophomore, Ali Blanchard, spoke publicly about being confronted and attacked by small groups of men. The two women spoke during a diversity rally on Oct. 15.

Blanchard related that three men harassed her in an on-campus parking lot last December. Meyer said that on Sept. 26 two men who appeared to be drink harassed and struck her. The men used an anti-gay pejorative, asking Meyer whether she was "a faggot," the article said. Meyer responded, telling the two the "get lost," and one of the men struck her in the face. The assailant then took to his heels. Meyer was wearing a T-shirt with the slogan "Legalize Gay" at the time of the assault, the article said.

An earlier Royal Purple article from Oct. 5 reported on the Sept. 26 incident, describing the assailant as a young white male, between 5' 7" and 5' 9," and with a raspy voice and short hair. The other man was described as an African-American standing about six feet tall.

The article said that a $500 reward was in effect for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the men who harassed Meyer.

"Incidents like this should not happen," Meyer told the rally. "I'm not going to change and I urge all of you to be yourselves, and hopefully others will learn to accept you for who you are." Meyer said that she had "decided to identify myself to show I am doing well since the incident," adding that she had received the support of family and friends.

"I think it was a positive thing we identified ourselves," said Blanchard. "We can show everyone we have the strength to move on."

The rally was sponsored by student groups. It drew a crowd of over 100, the article said. Organizer Katka Showers-Curtis called the rally "phenomenal," saying, "The turnout was more than indicative of how people feel on campus. I'm glad the two victims spoke up and identified themselves. I was overwhelmed by the support everyone showed." Showers-Curtis noted that the event attracted neither hostile behavior nor anti-gay commentary.

A message from openly lesbian Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin offered the students the lawmaker's support. "I stand with you in full support of your efforts," Baldwin's note read. "I'm inspired by your courage and although I am not there in person, I proudly stand with you today."

The city of Whitewater has a population of about 13,500 people, as of the 2000 Census. The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater had a student population of about 11,000 last year, according to Wikipedia.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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