The following is a public statement from Jae Tremell and Melissa Mullins to the The Seattle Lesbian.
“Purchasing tickets to this football game was not intended to end in pain and a complete disruption to our lives. While intolerance and hatred toward us and our community are not new concepts we have never been targeted or even looked at sideways while attending a Seattle Seahawks game. We have attended numerous Seahawk games and have always found the crowd and even opposing fans to be good natured and enjoying themselves. So, you can imagine our surprise at the individual’s belligerent behavior directed at us. To behave so aggressively towards complete strangers over a hatred for their sexuality is a scary display of the defendant’s lack of self-control. For that key aspect we believe this individual presents a risk to the safety of other LGBTQ community members. This event while not only physically painful is extremely traumatizing and emotionally draining.
“We would like to thank the community and our allies who have stepped up to support us through this difficult time. The outpouring of love and support has helped us begin to heal. From the fans, the 12’s, who risked injury to themselves to help us, to folks who have offered words of encouragement and those who have supported our GOFUNDME page. We truly feel held in love and community. When we stand together love and compassion wins.”
Imagine you and your spouse go to a Seahawks game with your mother – a fun family outing to cheer on your team. You are enjoying the game when you and your wife are targeted by a stranger. He hates and mocks you. This hate could be because of the color of your skin, who you love, your gender expression, your ethnicity, or your assumed religious affiliation. You have never met this person and yet they randomly target you and your spouse.
The hater is sitting in your section and has to pass by you each time they go to concessions or the restroom and they use that opportunity to make discriminatory comments to you each time they pass by. The more the bully drinks, the more nasty the comments become, and you and your family are just trying to enjoy the game. This becomes very uncomfortable and you dread each time you see him coming, but of course you have no control of where he walks and you just try to ignore him and have a good time with your family.
By the third quarter of the game this big belligerent bully has had enough to drink that he escalates. This large man’s comments become much more crude and he grabs you by the jacket, and pushes his elbow into your solar plexus, all while saying you should perform sexual acts on him. Your spouse sees this and yells, ‘Hey! You can’t put your hands on my spouse.’ Then, thankfully, some kind fans step in and pull the bully away from you, which causes him to lose his balance. He falls back and then gets away from the people who pulled him away. He lunges forward and takes a swing at your spouse. He hits your spouse directly in the face causing a bloody nose, a chipped tooth and shock, of course. Amazing Seahawks fans step up again and tackle the bully so that he cannot hit either of you anymore and then call for people to get security or the police. Deputies come and arrest the hater. He resists arrest and has to be tazed for them to get control of him.
This could happen to any couple that is in any minority group. It may shock you that something like this happened in Seattle. The city is known as a hub for inclusivity and diversity and, yet, hate knows no city boundaries.
This event happened on December 30th at Centurylink Field to a sweet young lesbian couple named Jae and Melissa, who are doing their best to navigate being the survivors of a hate crime. Jae is the spouse who was punched and her injuries are much more extensive than a bloody nose and chipped tooth. Last week she had to have facial surgery to repair her nose which was broken in three places and has other facial fractures and a concussion. She was told that there is an eight-week recovery from that surgery and the couple has already been out of work since the incident due to Jae’s injuries and the emotional trauma from living through such a traumatic incident.
I was contacted by a friend about this and asked if I would talk to the couple because they needed someone to be an advocate for them from the LGBTQ community. Someone who understood and had contacts who could help in navigating through this difficult situation. They needed help reaching out to our Seattle community to activate a network of people to step up and stand up for them. Being on the state board of PFLAG made it easy to find the active chapter in the area where they live. PFLAG folks jumped right in and were ready to give support and help with their needs.
A friend of theirs set up a GOFUNDME page to help with missing wages from work and to have money to obtain a lawyer. Everyone that has been asked to help has stepped up in many ways, including giving and helping to promote their fundraising page. The comments people have posted to the couple on the fundraising page and on Facebook are supportive and loving. Jae and Melissa are overwhelmingly grateful for the help and community support they have received. A case like this can be in and out of court of over a year before the perpetrator there is an actual trial or they can settle out of court. They will need our continued support as this case and their healing will take time.
With the state of the world we all live right now, many feel that hate and negativity is winning. Haters seems to feel more emboldened and are definitely more vocal in spewing their venom. This story reminds me and I hope reminds all of us that there are still many good people who will step up in loving community and stand against hate. People have shown amazing support, from the 12s who step in at the game to each person who contributed to their GOFUNDME and/or left a loving encouraging note for them.
Many people ask me what they could do and how they could help. People have been willing to go buy groceries for them, make meals and have done many other things to help. This shows the heart of our community and that is something to be encouraged by and hold on to during these trying times. Yes, discrimination can show its ugly head even in a city known for LGBTQ diversity, but love does win. Love and support also help people and community to heal.
We are stronger together, when we look out for one another. As my aunt used to say, “No one is an island.” In other words, we do need each other and, as Martin Luther King said, an injustice to one is an injustice to us all. We are a loving community that has no tolerance for hate.
Mac Scotty McGregor is the radio show host of the “You Can Make A Difference” show and is a Washington State PFLAG board member. He is a diversity educator and has been dubbed “The Gender Sensei” for his work in the transgender community. He’s an award-winning LGBTQ activist, advocate, writer, and coach. Learn more about Mac by visiting www.rainieravenueradio.world or following him on Twitter @Mckick.