by Sandy Dwyer
What began as a dispute over a T-shirt sold by a gay owned Texas company ended up with a lesbian alleging she was assaulted and held against her will by members of the Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the Golden State Gay Rodeo Association.
Barbara Bailey alleges that she was handcuffed, forcibly removed from the rodeo grounds and held in a small security booth for at least 20 minutes on March 24 at the rodeo event. She charges that A.J. Camplani, head of rodeo security, handcuffed her. Bailey said that Del Miller, president of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Golden State Gay Rodeo Association, grabbed her right arm and along with Camplani, forced her to go with them. Bailey said that she suffered several cuts on her left wrist from improper use of the handcuffs which were placed over a bracelet, and multiple bruises as a result of their rough treatment.
Miller denied Bailey's charges. "I never touched the lady in any respect," he said. He also said that an unnamed security guard put handcuffs on Bailey, not Camplani.
Miller said that the 56 year-old Bailey, who is 5ft., 7 inches tall, and about 150 pounds, "fought heavily, yanking her arms as much as she could." He said that her injuries were caused from her fighting. "I personally did a citizens arrest" he said. Although he called the police, he said they did not arrive until Bailey had been released and had left.
The dispute began about mid-day when Bailey went with friends to the Gay Rodeo held at the Equestrian Center in Burbank. She said that prior to the beginning of the rodeo, they walked around looking at the items for sale at the various booths. At the booth rented by TNT Shirts, a T-shirt was displayed that Bailey said she found offensive. Above a crude graphic, were the words, "See Spot dick Jane." The drawing was of a dog mounting and having sex with a woman.
Baily said she told the manager of the booth that she ound it offesive and requested he take it down. When he refused, she then went to the Information Booth and spoke with the head of security, Camplni. She said tha Camplani went to look at the T-shirt and told her that he agreed that it was offensive but that there was nothing he could do.
Bailey said she decided to see how many people agreed with her feelings about T-sirt, so she began asking and having them sign a petition she had written out. She returned to the Information Booth with 35 signatures that she submitted to Camplani. It was then she said, that he suggested she talk with Del Miller, president of the local rodeo, after he finished with the Grand Entry ceremonies.
Bailey said that when Miller arrived, he attempted to explain that the T-shirt was just a parody of the first grade readers with Dick, Jaand and their dog spot. She said she felt such a T-shirt didn't belong at a gay rodeo "where gbay men who are dying of AIDA are accused of f...ing green mondeys." She said that they then asked her "if I threatened to do anything. I said, 'no,' and they said, 'yes you have, you've threatened to tear the booth down.'"
She alleges that at that point Camplani grabbed her, handcuffing her wrists behind her back and that Miller grabbed her right arm, saying she was under arrest. "A.J. pulled on the handcuffs, led me out the gate and a block away to a security office." She said there was a uniformed secuity guard she believes was an employee of the Equestrian Center in that offoce.
She said that when Miller cam back, he said they couldn't do anything abou tthe T-shirts. Bailey said that Miller finaly (let) her go after extracting a promise from her that she would be "good." She said Miller saw the blood fromt he injuries to her wrists and urged her to go to the First Aid tent but that she told them she wasn't going to allow them to touch her. She immediately went back in, found her friends and went to a local Urgent Care Center.
Miller however, disputes Bailey's version of the events. "I don't like it [the T-shirt] but I don't feel it was offensive," Miller said. Asked why Bailey was handcuffed, he said, "She stated she was going to have people come in and distroy the booth and threatening to start a riot. [I] could see only one alternative, remove [her]." Miller said that Bailey refused to talk to him about the T-shirt, "She wants to give me an order, 'if you don't remove it, I'll destroy it,'" he said. "If she would have been lady enough or man enough, whichever she would like, we could have worked this out," Miller said. "I love the girls, I want to work with the girls," he said.
He alleges that Bailey was removed by other security people hired by the rodeo, but couldn't remember the name of the security company. Both Bailey and Miller said that they have witnesses to the altercation that will support their separate and opposite claims as to what actually happened. However, ther is no doubt that Bailey was injured during the altercation. Color photographs reveal lacerations on her right wrist and there was still evidence of extensive brusing five days later on her arms and both wrists.
Bailey, who has retained a lawyer, plans to take it to court.
The rodeo, meanwhile, appears to thav aqdditional problems. The Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the G.S.G.R.A., Inc., as it is officially incorporated, was suspended by the Secretary of State's office on March 1, as a result is prohibited by law from conduction business. But they obviously were conducting business by holding the rodeo March 23 and 24. In fact, this was the seventh annual rodeo in Los Angeles produced by the orginazation, yet they were not offcially invorporated until March 17, 1988.
In addition, the orginization has never filed with the Los Angeles City Department of Social Services, which requires tha tall non-profit organizations advertising withitn the city to apply for and receive a fundraising permit, even though the event may be held out the city.
Queer Nation also becam active in the dispute about the T-shirt. Later that night, about 16 members showed up outsidt eh gate with flyers with a replica of the T-shirt that aksed, "Find this offensive and degrading to lesbians?"
Accounts of the resulting events are again, widely different. Queer Nation members said they were merely handing out flyers. Miller claims they were threatening to storm the Exit gate to gain entrance and tear down the T-shirt booth. Regardless of the true facts, Queer Nation members ended passing out their flyers on the public sidewalk at the entrance to the grounds. According to Richard Gray, Kate Sorensen and Tom Mertz, the rodeo security people were, for the most part, hostile and rough with them. By contrast, Mertz and Gray said that the LAPD, when the arrived, was cool headed and well behaved.
Meanwhiel, other members of Queer Nationa said they are going to be scrutinizing all the gay rodeos across the nationa bout their attitudes and treatment of lesbians and investigating reoprts the HIV positive are poorly treated.