8/26/08

Woman Ejected from Federal Building for Wearing a Lesbian T-Shirt

"Lesbian.com". Offensive? I would think not, but that's not what one security guard thought when a Southern California woman wore a t-shirt with that written on it into a federal building where he worked.

Lapriss Gilbert says she went to the federal building in Van Nuys, CA on Monday to pick up a Social Security card for her son. But before she could make it to the queue she was stopped by a security guard.Gilbert said she was told that the t-shirt, which bore the words “Lesbian.com,” was offensive. The web site is NOT a porn site; in fact it's a popular educational resource for lesbians.


Gilbert told The Contra Costa Times that the guard demanded that she leave the building or face arrest.

“As an African-American and a lesbian, I haven’t been through one day without facing some sort of discrimination…but this is just shocking,” Gilbert, 31, told the newspaper.

The guard was not a government employee but works for Paragon, a private company hired by the Department of Homeland Security.

He also works for the "I'm an ignorant chauvinistic asshole who feels threatened by powerful women" company, although the Department of Homeland Security did not know this at the time.

A spokesperson for the department said the guard’s actions were “inappropriate and unacceptable” and that Paragon had been contacted.

Gilbert and her mother Tanya, who is also a lesbian and a longtime LGBT activist, say they are contacting an attorney. Gilbert told the Times that she may file a federal civil rights lawsuit.

The younger Gilbert called her mother after being escorted out of the building. The mother called police but before officers arrived another Paragon guard told Gilbert she could enter the building and escorted her to the Social Security line.

A witness contacted by The Times backs up Gilbert’s account.

“For her to be told to leave was completely unnecessary, especially considering how peaceful and quiet she was responding the the security officers,” Paul Dumont told the paper. “Nobody in that office felt her t-shirt was offensive by any means.”

In a statement to police, Dumont said the guard’s “loud, unreasonable, aggressive and angry approach to the situation almost caused chaos.”

This afternoon, Lesbiatopia spoke with a well-placed contact inside the Department of Homeland Security in Washington DC to ask them about this incident and was told,

“This department is aware of this unfortunate incident at its very highest levels… and in no way condones what happen to MS Gilbert.

We respect the feelings of all our citizens and mandate that all contractors do as well.

The Department of Homeland Security will be carefully examining the training policies and procedures of Paragon Security Company to see if those training policies and procedures are deficient in any way and if they are in accord with DHS policies…

If it warrants further action will be taken.”
Lesbiatopia can wholly relate to this story on so many levels.

If any of you remember back to December 2007, there was quite the controversy involving the popular social bookmarking site, Digg.

Digg banned Lesbiatopia from submitting articles for "displaying Adult Content". It would seem that some over at Digg thought our name, and lesbians in general, held pornographic connotations, though we were never told exactly why we were banned.

See... Digg Says We are Bad Girls" and "You Can't Pull the Wool Over Our Eyes.

We really hope that Ms. Gilbert files a federal civil rights lawsuit, as she says she intends to do. As for the security guard, we hope that he is fired because it is that type of behavior that is unacceptable and should be made a public example of.

Now, I must ask you this: what do you think would have happened if a man walked into that same federal building wearing the same t-shirt or even worse, a t-shirt with a naked woman on it or some other type of woman-objectifying message?

My guess is nothing. I'll let you be the judge.

29 comments:

Audra said...

am offended by religious propaganda t-shirts... therefore, noone will be allowed on my property wearing one..

Jeesh.. this is insane.

Ellis said...

This..wow..I can't imagine how humiliating and shocking the whole thing must have been for her, getting thrown out of the building for a word and a dot com. I mean "Lesbian" gosh, of course, how filthy.

"If it warrants further action will be taken.” Yeah, yeah. Fire his ass already.

rainyday93 said...

What? Are you saying that porn stars are not really lesbians? That they are in it for the money? Get out of here!

beedog said...

Wow, a perpetually-offended, unreasonable, petty "Christian"... there's something you don't see every day!

Duce Bigelow said...

Well, I'm offended by any propaganda -- Gay or Straight. We don't need the Federal Government
in our bedrooms.

Anonymous said...

A perpetually-offended, unreasonable, petty "christian", with tangible authority...

Sinnerviewer said...

I could not find anywhere in this article where the guard was identified as a "Christian". I think it's really sad how every time someone does something like this to a GLBT person, we are very quick to paint the perp as a Christian. Very sad that we aren't bigger than the bigots.

Julie said...

I think that's crazy. I bought a tshirt yesterday which says "UNT...The C is Silent in Polite Company". No doubt wearing that is a stoning offence!

Renee "Lesberita" Gannon said...

julie... that t-shirt is awesome!

joushigun said...

Actually, there is something in this artical that worries me far more than this man's actions. That this man works for a private company that has been hired to protect our buildings. The Feds have very strict hiring proceedures (though you wouldn't know it from the way Bush has acted), and to allow someone from an outside company to guard a Federal building is to invite an act of terrorism. This company should not be hired to guard our buildings. Back in Georgia, the people who guarded our Federal Court House, which included other offices and the Post Office, were FBI and CIA trained men who worked specifically for the government and not a company. It also meant that there were strict guidelines as to what they could and couldn't do. This included that they had no right to inform someone that what they were wearing was offensive. So long as the person was clothed, and shod (wearing shoes), they were allowed into the building.

The only thing Federal and State guards are allowed to escort someone out of the building for is if they are found to be carrying a weapon.

And, Sinnerviewer, I understand what you mean. We cannot be biggotted the way that those who attack us are. There are many fine Christians out there who are accepting and supporting of our Community.

Renee "Lesberita" Gannon said...

plus, it's all about the first amendment.

Anonymous said...

good for him, she deserved it

joushigun said...

Anonymous-

Only those who fear the light attack from the dark. I find it ironic that most of the people who come here to attack cannot even take the time to come up with a moniker or a name for themselves.

No one deserves humiliation for being different. All it shows is a desire to hurt others within those attacking.

Anonymous said...

In the minds of millions of men: Yes. And unfortunately this woman does not fit the stereotype fantasy of "lesbian"....she's not a young, hot, skinny white woman.

I totally want this shirt now.

Paula Brooks said...

Anon 1.... You can say you think this joker was right...

but when I called the DHS yesterday afternoon I can tell you they ABSOULTLY DO NOT agree with you...

I imagine that he is unemployed at this very moment.

Paula Brooks said...

Sinnerviewer,

I know that is is not right to condemn all Christians for these sorts of incidents...

I know many very tolerant Christians and church leaders...

But you have to understand, most of this kind of nonsense is justified by too many less tolerant church leaders such as Dodson, Wildmon and the AFA bunch, and many in those "flocks" think because these jokers say to hate gays they have a "God-Given" right to do this kind of thing ....

Until those types stop preaching homophobia, most in the LGBT community will view all Christians as the enemy.

Sinnerviewer said...

Paula, I completely understand that there are some extreme religious groups that persecute GLBT folk withh zeal.

To try to justify labeling a bigot as "Christian" so one can yet again attack a certain people group as a whole makes one no better than the person who was the bigot in the first place.

Trying to say that this man is a Christian so one can deepen their hatred for Christians in general is quite similar to Nazi Germany when everyone followed Hitler in his quest to made all Jews look evil.

There are MANY GLBT Christians. There is no need to further isolate them by not offering the same level of tolerance that we cry out for from everyone else.

Not every bigot is a Christian. Not every bigot is religious. Sometimes, there are just bigots.

Paula Brooks said...

Shannon,

Then as Christians they need to tell these 'spiritual leaders' to knock off their shit... because it it making all Christians look very bad to many.

I think if the tithe checks stop getting written till they do, they will very soon knock it off.

But the longer good Christian keep paying these guys bills, the longer these clowns will keep it up.

Rachel said...

Saying an entire group of people ("Christians") is completely against another group of people (all GLBT people) is pinning so so many people against each other. When you are baptized a Christian, the person officiating the ceremony doesn't say "Do you reject satan? Do you promise to blow up abortion clinics and raise hell for homosexuals?" Many Christian churches (I can't speak for any other body of faith because I am unfamiliar with anything else) preach tolerance. Not only do they preach tolerance, many preach acceptance and embracing everyone, regardless of who they are or where they come from. I'm a Lutheran, who goes to a VERY Catholic college, and I'm gay, and I'm out. I have a great relationship with the religious leaders at my school, who have no issue with our difference of opinion on many matters of faith or the fact that I'm openly gay. Truly, no one should have a problem with anyone else, particularly for matters beyond their control. There are tons of close-minded people out there running their mouths who say hateful things, but they aren't speaking for the entire Christian family. They are speaking for themselves, and they close-minded drone followers. The things they say hurt me more as a Christian than a GLBT person, because they do give Christians and religious individuals very very bad names.

I guess the point is that we shouldn't isolate ourselves from an entire group of people, in any capacity. Everyone is an individual and should be dealt with on an individual basis. The woman who wore the "lesbian.com" shirt isn't just a lesbian, she isn't just a woman, African American, a mother, etc. She's a human being, just like the man who incorrectly asked her to leave.

How can we as GLBT people hope for or aspire to acceptance if we ourselves don't accept and embrace all individuals, even the ignorant ones, despite their shortcomings?

Sinnerviewer said...

Very well articulated, Rachel. I could not agree more. To try to label someone as a member of a certain group so that you can further your hatred for that group is wrong and there is no justification for that. Period.

Ma'amselle Lezident said...

This is the second or third time in a couple of days that I've seen people comparing each other to Hitler in the blog comments of Lesbiatopia; stop it! You look like this:

http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.com/2008/06/25/winner-4/

I'm all about Christians and gays (and people who are both) working together to end hate, not Christians vs. gays, same as I am about women and men working together to end violence against women, not women vs. men.

We need strong hetero Christian allies who can stand up in their congregations and speak out for us where we are not welcome. In addition, we have to support people like Reverend Troy Perry at the MCC, who is gay and unquestionably righteous. Yeah, I'm an atheist, and I think all organized religions are scary, divisive scams, but so what? This isn't a battle about whether there is a god; it's a battle about civil rights, and we need all the help we can get.

Renee "Lesberita" Gannon said...

It is my belief that people, as a whole, need to move towards a path of spirituality. Whether that spiritual path manifests itself in the form of organized religion like Christianity, or not, doesn't matter. The idea of entering into a higher level of thinking, the ability to think on a more spiritual level, will only open people's minds more. To be open and accepting of a person's choice and freedom to practice religion, or not, to live their life as they choose and not what is dictated by any one person or group of people, is what will truly open the door to universal acceptance. We need that universal acceptance for all race, religions, creeds, sexualities, etc. I believe it possible for us to COEXIST in our beliefs and the problem with many religions is that they persecute those that do not agree with their beliefs. Christians are no more or no less in the right than the GLBT community, or Muslims, or Jews, etc etc. If we can learn to be open, non-judgemental, accepting, spiritually above the persecution, than we will all be in a better state of mind and more peaceful. Coexistence is what we need to be preaching, not conversion.

Sinnerviewer said...

I could not agree more, Renee. If we want tolerance, we need to set an example. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. (and no, that's not a Bible verse...)

Anonymous said...

You're all wrong.

The vulgar , vain , irresponsible choice of "lesbianism" is an absolute violation of ALL spirituality and religion.

Stop pissing around with self-serving , convoluted 'theories' in aan effort to 'defend' your self-absorbed offense.

Renee "Lesberita" Gannon said...

Looks like SKOTS back, trolling a lesbian website. I can tell by the weirdly misplaced commas. Haha. Oh SKOT, you do love your lesbians, or else why would you keep coming back for more?

Paula Brooks said...

Ok ladies, my final thought on this subject is this quote...

Power never takes a back step - only in the face of more power..... Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery.

~Malcom X

Respect me and I will respect you... hurt me or mine and you had better watch the fuck out...

Renee "Lesberita" Gannon said...

I would also like to offer a quote:

"We can reject everything else: religion, ideology, all received
wisdom. But we cannot escape the necessity of love and compassion....
This, then, is my true religion, my simple faith. In this sense, there is no need
for temple or church, for mosque or synagogue, no need for complicated
philosophy, doctrine or dogma. Our own heart, our own mind, is the temple.
The doctrine is compassion. Love for others and respect for their rights and
dignity, no matter who or what they are: ultimately these are all we need.
So long as we practice these in our daily lives, then no matter if we are
learned or unlearned, whether we believe in Buddha or God, or follow some
other religion or none at all, as long as we have compassion for others and
conduct ourselves with restraint out of a sense of responsibility, there is
no doubt we will be happy."

~ Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama ~

Paula Brooks said...

Oh and SKOT... you need to hire a new copywriter... The one you have just ain't getting it...

Paula Brooks said...

That is all well and fine for the Dali Lama to say…but he is a man without a country and his people are some of the most oppressed in the world… his compassion and reason has not stopped even one Chinese tank from rolling over his country and its people…

The promise of a better place after they have departed from this world is a great sop to some…

But I live in the here and the now…. My partner and I have children and property in that here and now…

We are taxpaying citizens and we want the same protections and rights every other taxpaying citizen in this country has for those children and property.

The religious right types work hard to try to diminish us by any means they can, they will do anything to keep us from those protections and rights … They are unreasoning and unreasonable haters of anyone or anything Gay or Lesbian.

They therefore are my enemy and they are the enemy of every Gay and Lesbian person in this country… They mean us no good and if anyone thinks peace and love will change that just look at SKOT… or Don Wildmon or James Dodson…

Wake up sisters…these people do not like us and they never will.

I will agree with Renee, the Dali Lama does have moral superiority over his oppressors, but you can’t fight your oppressors with peace and love when your oppressors are fighting you with tanks, you just won't win...

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