Southern Discomfort: The Not So Golden Valley

H. Lukas Green and Jody May-Chang©
May 3, 2008 PrideDEPOT.com

The actions of a lesbian couple and their supporters caused an avalanche of religious fervor, fear and bigotry in the small southern towns of Casar and Shelby, North Carolina.

Camp Lickalotta Area

All of this played out on the front page of The Star, the largest daily newspaper in Shelby, NC. The big news was about a lesbian couple trying to establishing an LGBT-friendly campground called, “Camp Lickalotta.”

Christian conservatives quickly piled on the women and their supporters condemning them as sinners and a threat to families.

The Star reportedly learned of the camp from locals who read about it on the internet and posted comments on the newspaper’s website. The Star plastered news about the camp on its front page under a bold doomsday headline. The newspaper even included a warning that the news might be considered offensive to readers.

Soon a campaign was launched to intimidate the gay community. The Star assisted in that effort by repeating the phrase “controversial camp” in each story. The newspaper embraced a reporting style favoring religious conservatives who were enraged that the so-called “homosexual lifestyle” was invading their community.

The biased reporting almost seemed to invite many of off-color comments about lesbians building “Camp Lickalotta” that were freely posted on The Star’s website. If there was any hint of journalistic integrity, The Star managed shred it by publishing a font page verbatim letter written by O. Max Gardner III, a prominent attorney representing the couple who evicted the lesbians from the Golden Valley Campground where “Camp Lickalotta” was proposed to be built.

There is no denying that news about lesbians building a place called “Camp Lickalotta” is in itself attention-grabbing, but that was the marketing idea by its founders Nancy Leedy and Joanie Beasley. They wanted to create a place that would to grab the attention and imagination of people – well, it apparently worked.

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Murder in Indiana: State of Neglect

H.Lukas Green and Jody May-Chang©
June 29, 2007 PrideDEPOT.com

Indiana’s Christian Conservatives lobbied aggressively to kill HB 1459, a hate crimes bill. Indiana is one of four states without any kind of hate crime legislation.

Indiana’s religious conservatives mirrored the same tactics used successfully in other states; lie, fear monger, and label homosexuals as a threat.

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Murder in Indiana: “Gay Panic” – A License to Kill

H. Lukas Green & Jody May-Chang ©
June 29, 2007 PrideDEPOT.com EXCLUSIVE

Murder victim Aaron A family member of a man brutally beaten and murdered in a small rural Indiana town spoke out in an exclusive interview with PrideDEPOT.com about Aaron “Shorty” Hall (left) and those accused of killing him.

Sabrena Baker, the former girlfriend and mother of Hall’s child, says the victim was not gay as the defendants alleged and she has doubts that justice will be served in a heinous crime that has garnered very little media attention in Indiana.

Baker, who lives near North Vernon, told PrideDEPOT.com that she lived with Hall for nine years and raised his 10-year-old daughter, Day-Z Mae. The couple was separated for about six years, but still maintained a relationship as parents of their daughter.

“He was far from being gay. It just looks like they are trying to make him look like he was gay,” Baker said in reaction to the “gay panic” defense presented by the accused.

She said that ever since the murder, Day-Z has gone to therapy once a week in North Vernon, Indiana.

“She cries every day,” Baker said. “And she is constantly asking me why they would do anything like that, and I don’t know how to answer her question why somebody would kill someone and how they done him.”

Hall was murdered on April 12, but his corpse was found by local police 10 days later wrapped in a tarp and hidden inside a garage belonging to Terry Gray, the local Jackson County Deputy Coroner, who is the father of Garrett Gray, 19, one of the murder defendants.

Bloomington Alternative, 'Hate Crime in Indiana?' by Steve Higgs
Click to read more: PDF File | Website Article

“Yesterday, I heard from some people down there that after they stuck him in the garage they were inviting people in and showing him off like some kind of trophy or something,” Baker said. “I don’t understand why they would do him like that.”

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Murder in Indiana: Media Lethargy

By H. Lukas Green and Jody May-Chang©
June 29, 2007 PrideDEPOT.com

Two years ago, Crothersville, Indiana, was the scene of a national media frenzy. In January 2005, every major television network and news service wanted to know what happened to 10-year-old Katie Collman who was the subject of a massive search involving hundreds of local volunteers.

Katie’s body was eventually found in Cypress Lake, just north of Seymour, Indiana. Anthony Stockelman of Seymour pleaded guilty to murder and child molestation for the girl’s killing. In exchange, prosecutors dropped their request for the death penalty.

The little girl disappeared Jan. 25, 2005, as she was running an errand for her mother. Her body was discovered five days later in a nearby creek. Her hands were tied behind her back and there was evidence she had been sexually molested, according to the autopsy.

Three men arrested in the murder of Aaron 'Shorty' HallNow the same town is dealing with the horrible murder of Aaron “Shorty” Hall, but it is not generating the same level of coverage that the Collman killing did in 2005.

Unlike an innocent little girl, Hall was by no means a candidate for sainthood. Hall abused drugs and alcohol, and he associated with some characters who would hardly be considered model citizens.

Barring his personal life, it is the absolute brutality that the man suffered, which eventually resulted in him being murdered, that merits nothing less than full and complete news coverage. But for the most part, the Indiana media decided not to defend the public’s right to know and simply depended on quick sound bites and press releases.

An editorial published by Steven Higgs of the Bloomington asks why The Indianapolis Star, Indiana’s largest news paper, has yet to cover the brutal murder of Aaron “Shorty” Hall.

“The case should have been big news,” Higgs contends. “Yet The Star left the Hall murder to the Jackson County media, the never-to-be-trusted Indianapolis and Louisville television stations and bloggers”

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