Montrell Delicious Jackson and Isiah Tweedie filed a video on YouTube after they experienced anti-gay verbal harassment last month. They are currently planning a fundraiser for the The Trevor Project that will take place on Sept. 7 BLT photo: Todd Heywood
'Love Trumps Hate' Counters Anti-Gay Verbal Assault Caught On Video
By Todd Heywood
Originally printed 9/4/2014 (Issue 2236 - Between The Lines News)
LANSING - After sharing video of a Lansing business owner's anti-gay tirade towards Isiah Tweedie and his friends, Tweedie knew he had to do more than raise awareness about the event itself. He says he needed to make sure people understood that the vile verbal assaults were not acceptable or a community norm.
"I've always been a person who wants to turn a negative into a positive," says Tweedie. "I wanted to give back to the community."
As a result, #LoveTrumpsHate fundraiser was born. The event will be held on Sunday, Sept. 7 at Spiral Video and Dance Bar in Lansing. There will be two shows - one rated PG at 7 p.m. and a second, more traditional drag show at 10 p.m. The cost to attend is a minimum $5 donation at the door, with admission proceeds going to The Trevor Project.
The Trevor Project is a national nonprofit that works with LGBTQ youth, specifically to prevent suicide among this demographic.
The fundraiser comes out of an Aug. 3 incident caught on video. In the video, Victor Sadet, the owner of a local small business, can be seen calling three men "faggots" and telling them they need to leave the state. In a phone interview, Sadet told Between The Lines that he is a "good Christian" who does not hate gay people. Sadet claimed the invectives were the result of sexually explicit talk from Tweedie and his two friends, but witnesses say the incident was unprovoked. Tweedie videotaped the incident on his cell phone and posted it online. It quickly went viral, garnering thousands of views on the internet and dozens of news stories.
What was going to be just a community event quickly mounted into a major affair. Tweedie was in contact with corporate leadership at Fire Mountain, the all-you-can-eat buffet in Delta Township where the incident occurred. The team at the restaurant wanted to be involved, says Kim Miller, a spokesperson for the company. The company will provide a free catered buffet at the event and has already provided Tweedie with 50 free passes to distribute during the fundraiser.
Miller says the company thoroughly reviewed the situation and determined that the manager involved had handled the situation per company policies. When he heard the anti-gay verbal assault, he ordered Victor Sadet to leave the premises. When he did not do so, the manager called the police on Sadet. Miller did note that the manager was counseled, because it was determined he could have provided his name to Tweedie and his friends earlier in the interaction.
Fire Mountain decided to get involved with Tweedie's event because they felt it was important.
"We don't tolerate that kind of behavior," Miller says. "We embrace all of our guests."
She continued, "This is about bullies. That's just unacceptable. It's bigger than race or sexual orientation. This is why we are involved. We wanted to send a clear signal that bullies are not welcome at Fire Mountain."
The buffet is not the only business to participate. Tweedie reports that over a dozen businesses have stepped up with donations and other support for the event. Between The Lines is also a sponsor of the fundraiser.
For their part, intended beneficiary, The Trevor Project, says the fundraiser is important.
"The 'Love Trumps Hate' benefit is valuable in many ways, but mostly because we, as an LGBTQ community, are at our best when we respond to prejudice, fear and hate with love, acceptance and welcome," says Steve Mendelsohn, deputy executive director of The Trevor Project. "No person should ever be mistreated simply because of who they are. That is a message we give to young people every day at The Trevor Project."
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