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They didn’t ask “hey, are you straight or gay?”  before they decided to commit a hate crime.

Brian Castellani | Jacksonville Human Rights Ordinance jaxHRO

SUPPORT HRO 2016-002

It’s easy to forget that a minority has been fighting for EVERYONE’S right to feel safe in our city.

I was in San Francisco in 2004, when Gavin Newsom made it legal for LGBTQ’s to marry one another.  It was one of the most moving moments in history that I have witnessed.

Growing up, I have been beaten up, ridiculed, and talked down to repeatedly through-out my life because peers thought I was gay, or just too sensitive.

Now, I don’t care what people think about me, or about the causes I choose to support.

I have always felt like there was something wrong with me, or that I just DON’T belong.

You know what I found out?

I found out that I will never fit inside of any status quo definition and I’ll probably never belong in the mainstream…. And that’s more than “ok,” that’s pretty friggen great.

I have always been too much for others and until recently, I realized I don’t need you either.

What is this really about?

So, in 2002, I went to “Bo’s” (which is a gay club in Jacksonville Beach) to meet up with some people from work.

They didn’t end up showing up.  I watched the show, and then left.

As I was leaving, a newer white Toyota 4 Runner pulled up outside the club, and asked me for directions to Freebird.

I imagine that I said “sure no problem,” and walked up to the window to give him directions.

I told him it was up the street and to the right.

And the driver lunged out the drivers side window at me and yelled:

You are going to Hell, I hope you die faggot!

And then poured an un-identifiable white powder all over me.

It was in my hair, all over my face, in my ears, in my eyes, inside my nostrils, all over my clothes…. everywhere.

I felt like I was on fire

I immediately thought it was anthrax! As you might recall, it was very common back then after 9/11.

It didn’t matter if I was gay, or not.  It didn’t matter if I was just there to meet up with friends.

They didn’t ask “hey are you straight or gay?”  before they decided to commit a hate crime.

The door guy named Jeremy, helped me back inside, and helped me clear all the powder off my face and tried to help.

I was so mad, so confused and worst of all, just in utter shock.

Who would think that it’s ok to throw toxic powder on people?

No one ever expects that they’re going to get doused in rat poison, lye, toxic powder, or whatever that substance was… poured on to them.

I’m going to say that again… No one deserves to get poison poured on them.

That’s what these people depend on.

People who terrorize others – the people who actively promote hate crimes – depend on the silence of their victims.

I was sick for two weeks after that event.  I didn’t leave my bed except to use the restroom. I don’t know what the substance was, but I think that it must have been rat poison.  That is my guess.

I didn’t know if I was going to live or die for two weeks.

I never reported it, because I didn’t want to embarrass my parents… Isn’t that stupid?

So I ask you as City Council Members…

Should the HRO matter to Jacksonville?

Yes.  It should.

People say: love doesn’t see color, gender, or sexual orientation… 

But you know what else doesn’t see color, gender, or sexual orientation?

Hate. Bigotry. And Ignorance is also BLIND. 

The difference is that An All Inclusive HRO Accepts ALL People Despite Their Differences.

And a Non-Inclusive HRO silences people who do not fit into society’s definitions.

I support the 2016-002

Not the referendum that allows the majority should not vote on the rights of the minority.

Thank you Jacksonville City Council