© Kristen Becker.
Used by permission.
All rights reserved.
A couple of days ago I saw the bloodied face of Mallory Owens, a 23 yr old lesbian, living in Alabama. I can’t get it out of my mind. Why was her face bloodied, you ask? Because her girlfriend’s brother thought that the appropriate way to deal with his displeasure surrounding his sisters girlfriend, would be to beat her about the head and shoulders, repeatedly (with some metal, like a real man hits a girl). I have gone through about a thousand different emotions since then, none of them positive. I’ve never been one of those people to say, “It could have been me, or my friends” when a tragedy strikes, but this one — this one could have been me, or any of my friends. I’m not even sure how this piece is going to end honestly. I just know that I couldn’t keep quiet about this because I recognize just how lucky I was. You see, generally speaking, I am more self-righteous than the average bear. On more than one occasion, a big, drunk redneck has called me a dyke, and on more than one occasion I’ve repeatedly stood up to them, usually by making a mockery of them, using my biting wit as my defense, until I can get out of the situation.
Mallory wasn’t in a “situation” involving strangers at a bar. That is what makes this case the kind of thing everyone needs to hear about. She was at Thanksgiving dinner. You absolutely read that correctly. Thanksgiving dinner. It wasn’t a drunk stranger that assaulted her. It was her sister’s boyfriend. Why was Mallory there? That’s the question a lot of people have been asking. There have been reports that this wasn’t the first time he (Travis Hawkins is his name BTW, I’m not going to use it again though, because I don’t want to humanize someone who clearly is not a human being) got physical with Mallory.
I can’t speak for Mallory, because I don’t know her, but I do know what it is like to be a lesbian in the deep south. Reports have said that when her mother asked her why she was going there, Mallory responded “They are trying to be nice.” To me, that speaks volumes. Remember being in love at 23? What wouldn’t you do for the other person. You would do anything for that person. Straight, gay, bi, rich, poor, black, white doesn’t matter. Young love is young love. She thought they were trying to love her. The family that sat back and allowed for this animal to beat another human being in their house. Not just any other human being — the human being that his sister loved. As much as Mallory needs prayers, vibes, ju-ju, bubbles, whatever positive thing you do, so does her partner. How do you look at your family again, or ever return to that place?
Maybe that is the point of this. To get everyone who hears this story to stop and think about why she was there (love) and how this ended (hate). Lets not let it become a story that becomes impersonal. Stop and think about your Thanksgiving. She brought love to the table, and it was met with a big steaming scoop of good ol’ fashioned redneck hate. Hatred that extended beyond the family dinner table. Look up the pictures of her face. She has metal plates under her eyes to rebuild her eye sockets. Does that look like second degree assault to you? Looks to me like he was trying to kill her. I wonder what the charge would be if Travis were African American. How would the police officers of Alabama handle that? I imagine after their heads exploded they just wouldn’t bother to investigate. Second degree assault. Not attempted murder? The family that stood by and let it happen, are they not accomplices? Is an investigation not necessary to determine if this entire thing was premeditated by the family, thinking if they could “just get rid of Mallory” maybe their beloved daughter/sister would no longer be gay? Sure that sounds ridiculous to us, but trust me, it’s not a far off rational for some uneducated folks.
If you don’t know much about me, let me explain that while I was born in Upstate NY, I was raised in Louisiana, and in the early 1990’s Shreveport, La wasn’t exactly a beacon for diversity.
I was lucky enough to realize I might be a homo in high school, so I’m not unfamiliar with the way a young lesbian in High school can be treated in the south, or anywhere really. (turns out it doesn’t matter how good you are at softball, if your teammates might catch the “gay” from you) Of course now, the gals I thought back then would end up gay, are. I have honestly never harbored many ill feelings about it, we were all young and ignorant and I speak to many of those same people today. As grown ups we have all matured and I just hope that those same friends from high school still live in the south, and they are teaching their children different.
Dykes of Hazard Comedy exists because I grew up in the south. I knew the joys and comfort of a small town gay bar, where maybe Jennifer snuck me in a little young, to keep me safe. (As dangerous as booze is to a 17 yr old, it is nothing compared to hate.)
I knew that I needed to go back and be out, loud, and visible. I also know when to “know my place” so we all survived. We got our tires slashed and sometimes when gals bought shirts they would say, “We’re gonna sleep in these” (Because wearing a Dykes of Hazard t-shirt in their town might not be ok).
I should stop rambling, but first, I think I realize why I wrote this. Dykes of Hazard has to be the leader it was started to be, I am going to contact my good ol’ drinking buddies in Pensacola and go do a show to raise some money. Are you a queer comic/performer? Contact me. You’re going to have to pay your own way, but i can promise a hell of a party when we get there.
The other reason I wrote this, is much, much more personal. I had a girlfriend in college and man, did I have it bad for her. She left for Xmas break one year, and I thought to myself, “You should go surprise that girl” I did. I drove the few hours south, and found her at her favorite diner. She was ecstatic, but not really “out” to her family. That night I slept in her brother’s room, he wasn’t there. It was painted confederate blue, had mason jars full of shotgun shells, a rebel flag, and a David Duke sign. Her brother’s name? Boone.
It had never occured to me how badly that could of ended, not until Mallory.
Turns out Boone is the nicest, sweetest boy you would ever meet (I still love that guy) and his room looked like any other teenage boy’s room would look in that area. He didn’t hate anyone. He was just young and trying to be into things that the men around him were into. In Buffalo, its a Bills flag, in southern Louisiana in 1995, it was a rebel flag. Maybe this is also a way to help speak out in defense of my southern friends who aren’t ignorant homophobes/racists. I love the south deeply. I’ve seen the growth in my friends and even in cities I used to live (hanging a DOH poster was taboo, now a few coffee shops will let me, all in 7 years time.
That’s all. Let’s raise some money to help this girl rebuild her life.
You can find more info here, about donating, etc. etc.
Text prepared by:
- Here. This fundraiser has since been completed. — The editor.
Text prepared by:
- Bruce R. Magee
Becker, Kristen. “This One is for Mallory.” Kristen Becker. 28 Nov. 2012. Web. 28 Oct. 2015. <http:// kristenbecker.com/ 2012/11/28/ this-one-is-for-mallory/>. © Kristen Becker. Used by permission. All rights reserved.