Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 32, No. 50, Ed. 1 Friday, April 22, 2016 Page: 23 of 52
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Bring back empathy, dignity
As the Oak Lawn community
struggles to address violence
from without, we must fight
hatred from within
np his is an article I've been meaning to
write for some time. I sat for weeks
JL mulling over exactly what I wanted to
say and how I wanted to say it. The fact is, there
are so many issues that the Dallas community
and the LGBTQ community at large needs to
address that it's difficult to pick a starting point
— issues like racism, sexism, agism and our
own internalized homophobia.
But the issue that seems to hit me and so
many people that I have come to know the last
few months the hardest is our community's —
specifically, the Dallas community's — utter
lack of empathy or human dignity in the face of
When I moved here at the end of October
2014, I didn't know anyone. Making friends
and meeting people was difficult. The Dallas
LGBTQ community doesn't exactly have a rep-
utation of being warm and fuzzy to new peo-
I moved to Oak Lawn because I figured that
I might have an easier time if I was in the mid-
dle of everything. I began going out, and as
time went on, I slowly began forming a circle
that I clicked with.
I visited Austin less and less and started
spending more time with my new friends. Life
seemed to begin to normalize, and I settled into
a normal, boring routine. And I was quite
happy with my obscurity.
Then on Oct. 2, 2015, a little more than two
weeks from my one-year anniversary of living
in Dallas, everything changed.
I left S4 at about 1 a.m. for the three-block
walk back to my apartment. I remember being
hit with something in the back of my head, and
I remember feeling a wave of immense heat
rush over me. Then I woke up in the trauma
unit, with doctors crowded around me stitching
up my face, my neck and my side. They told me
I suffered a fractured skull and a fractured eye
socket. My orbital wall was blown out, result-
ing in an orbital fracture, and I had a laceration
to my temple, and stab wounds to the left side
of my neck, my left rib cage and my left arm.
I had not one single memory of being at-
I hadn't really ever been in the spotlight of
the media before. I never really had a desire to
be front and center of anything, save for a few
school plays growing up. So when this hap-
pened, it never really occurred to me that put-
ting my face and
my story out for
the public to see
would destroy that
obscurity that I
valued and thrust
me into a position
of public scrutiny.
I never imag-
ined that there
would be any neg-
sions to speaking
truth to a situation and trying to get help from
the community to fill in pieces of an event I had
no recollection of.
Boy was I wrong.
Almost immediately my Facebook Messen-
ger was inundated with messages from people
I never met. My chat apps were blowing up
with messages from guys who never had a sin-
gle word to say to me.
In the beginning, the messages were polite
well-wishes and condolences. It was over-
whelming, but I was happy that the word was
getting out to so many people.
A week and multiple news stories later, and
there was still no word and no witnesses had
come forward. I changed my profiles to a photo
that the media was using and a brief descrip-
tion of what had happened in hopes that people
would contact me directly with info. That's
when everything began to go south.
The well-wishes disappeared and were re-
placed with vitriol and accusations of show-
boating. I began to hear that maybe I got what
I deserved because I was probably a "stuck-up
faggot like everyone else in that neighbor-
hood." I was told that everyone was "tired of
seeing my ugly face on TV" and I should "stop
trying to get attention."
More time passed. Ever the hard-headed Leo,
I continued doing what I had been doing. I gave
more interviews. My ugly face was on the TV
many more times. I even helped co-found a
nonprofit, Survivors Offering Support, which
works with other survivors of violent crimes to
help them navigate everything that happens
after — including the media and potential fall-
And boy, has there been fallout.
As more and more attacks happened and
more of these brave men came forward, I was
horrified to see that the hate and callous atti-
tudes I had encountered in the privacy of chat
apps were migrating to more public social
media forums. Guys that I knew personally
through our shared experiences were now hav-
ing the validity of their accounts questioned,
their character destroyed and their past mis-
takes brought to light and used as public fodder
And all of it done by people in our own com-
munity, cowards hiding behind the safety of
their computer screens, ill-informed and over-
entitled. People who lacked empathy and
human decency were spouting words and
views with no regard to how they might actu-
ally be affecting survivors of violence, to how
they were only adding fuel to the blaze that is
fear of reporting, fear of humiliation, fear of
Local businesses also jumped on board the
community idiot train. General managers of
some gay bars poured more salt onto not-yet-
healed wounds by proclaiming "the Oak Lawn
community is safe. This is a media firestorm. If
people make responsible decisions then they
won't have anything to worry about."
Another posted on Facebook, "If people
would just stop walking home drunk and
watch their surroundings ..." to suggest that
the victims of these crimes were to blame for al-
most being murdered; that their own actions
led to them being left on darkened streets and
alleyways with their blood pouring onto the as-
The victim shaming that came to light at a
time when our community should have banded
together was shocking and disgusting. At a
time when survivors needed the support of
their community, we were instead met with
ridicule, doubt and shame.
For six months now, I have talked with local
activists, friends and fellow survivors at great
length about the issue of callousness in our
community. When did this start?
Our community was built on the backs of
trans women of color, fearless warriors who led
the charge against police brutality in the
Stonewall Riots. Yet we fast-forward nearly 50
years to today, and our community now disre-
gards the plight of our trans brothers and sisters
almost entirely. They're ornamental, token girl-
friends that we parade around on our arms at
bars, but hardly anyone stands up and has hon-
est conversations about how difficult it is for
them to find employment, or have access to
healthcare, or walk safely in public or have
their murderers brought to justice.
We boast in our chat profiles that we have no
interest in "blacks or Asians," rationalizing that
it's "just a preference." Or we fetishize minori-
ties to the point where they are dehumanized
and seen as nothing more than a sex toy that
should be happy that they're receiving atten-
you're-cute" line isn't a compliment. When you
tell me that "you absolutely love Latin guys,"
what you're telling me is that you have no in-
terest in my personality, opinions or journey
and are instead only basing my worth on the
color of my skin.
It's not a compliment; it's an age-old form of
systemic racial oppression, and our community,
as an oppressed fringe group of society itself,
should be fighting against it, not perpetuating
We are all entitled to our opinion. We all live
in a country where we have the right to voice
those opinions, to question things that we don't
believe or don't understand. The issue here is
whether or not it's responsible to voice those
opinions publicly during a time when we
should be helping each other heal.
We have to endure so much idiocy and ha-
tred and misunderstanding from a society that
doesn't understand us and has no desire to,
why would we then want to turn around and
continue that cycle of shame and bigotry?
At what point did we as a society reach the
point that we would rather see someone suc-
cumb to circumstances than come out stronger
and thriving. When did we become people that
would choose to not only delight in, but also
aid in their downfall?
For survivors of violent crimes, sexual as-
saults or domestic abuse, the overwhelming
feeling of isolation that comes from not being
able to find someone that understands what
you're going through further complicates our
already fragile emotional state and for many
leads to a life long battle with depression. Whis-
pers around town used to hurt, but today a
whisper is available for hundreds of people to
I want to live in a world where violence, big-
otry and hatred have no place. I want a commu-
nity that holds its head high, that knows its
history and is proud of its lineage. I want a
community that stands together to fight any
outside force that threaten its survival.
I want a community that doesn't take its own
and attempt to destroy them at their weakest
moments. I want a community that is a commu-
nity, one that takes care of itself, edifies and en-
courages, teaches and mentors.
We used to be a great community. We have
unlimited potential in us. If we stopped tearing
each other down and instead focused that on
tearing down the walls of misinformation and
fear and bigotry just imagine where we could
be in 10 more years. Equality may actually
mean something that point. And we can
proudly say that we had a hand in bringing that
ideal to reality. ■
Michael Dominguez violent crime survivor and co-
founder of Survivors Offering Support.
04.22.16 dallasvoice 23
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Nash, Tammye. Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 32, No. 50, Ed. 1 Friday, April 22, 2016, newspaper, April 22, 2016; Dallas, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth1007231/m1/23/?q=%22bathroom%20bill%22: accessed June 24, 2021), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections.