When a Stranger Asks You, "Are You Gay?"

I’ve been watching this case in Duluth for a month now, and I’m still stunned that the County Attorney’s and Sheriff’s offices haven’t found it a hate crime.

You go to a graduation party for a friend’s sister. The only two people you know there are your friend and her sister.

Five minutes after you get there a stranger comes up and asks you, “Are you gay?”

In the case of Max Pelofske, 21, of Duluth he answered, “Yes, I’m gay. Is that a problem?”

The stranger hit him and threw him to the ground. A group of thirteen young men and boys started pounding on, kicking, and beating him. Max’s friend, 21 year old Kelly Johnson of Saginaw and the sister of the girl the party was being thrown for, tried to intercede on his behalf but was unable to stop the attack.

After, when Max and Kelly called the police to report the crime, more strangers to him claimed Pelofske was stealing beer and started the whole thing. The police have charged Pelofske with fifth degree assault and disorderly conduct. Johnson also faces a disorderly conduct charge. Five others face varying misdemeanor charges, and one felony.

When charges were filed on June 5, Assistant County Attorney Nathanial Stumme said people “we would presume to be his friends” did not support Pelofske’s allegations. Why presume Max had friends at the party when both Kelly Johnson and her sister Jenny have supported his statement that they were the only two people he knew there?

In an interview with the Duluth News Tribune Pelofske points out, “Look at me, I’m five-foot-six. Why would I instigate (a fight with) thirteen people I’ve never met in my whole life?” He also stated that while still at the party he had asked investigating officers for, and been given, a breathalyzer test. He and Johnson both blew zeroes. They had not been drinking.

Max Pelofske was jumped by strangers who chose him to assault solely on the basis of his being gay. Friends of the bullies claiming that Max was somehow responsible for the whole thing is a tired, predictable tactic to deflect attention from the bully onto the bullied. Unfortunately, in this case it worked.

“This is the first time I have ever seen the victim of a hate crime be charged at the same degree as the perpetrators,” Rebecca Waggoner, anti-violence program director for OutFront Minnesota is quoted as saying in the same article.

Wake up St. Louis county. What happened to Max Pelofske was a hate crime that you’ve allowed to be treated as just another ‘kid stuff – boys will be boys schoolyard scrap’. Thank goodness the physical injuries to Max were slight, but because he wasn’t permanently disfigured or killed does not give St. Louis county the right to ignore federal law and pretend it wasn’t what it was.


“Are you gay?”
“Yes, I’m gay. Is that a problem?”

That is a hate crime. Max Pelofske was singled out and assaulted solely on the basis of his sexual orientation.

I’m calling on St. Louis county to drop the charges against Pelofske and Johnson and to reevaluate the charges against the five. If you’d like to add your voice to mine please contact:

Duluth Courthouse
100 N. 5th Avenue West, #501
Duluth, MN 55802
Telephone: 218-726-2323

Let St. Louis county and their attorney know that defending yourself during the commission of a hate crime is every citizen’s right and should not be punishable by law.


Bullying by Celebrities

Toni Medrano, a 29 year old Minnesotan, set herself on fire in her mother’s backyard and died five days later. Why did she commit suicide in such a public manner?

Because she’d been bullied relentlessly on television and the internet, at least in part. Bullycide is not just a teenage problem.

Last November, three weeks after giving birth to her son Adrian, Toni Medrano allegedly drank a fifth of vodka then went to sleep on the couch next to him. Sometime during the night she rolled over and asphyxiated the baby.

Medrano was charged with two counts of second degree manslaughter on June 8th, which caught the attention of the Nancy Grace show. On her June 11th talk show Nancy Grace dubbed Toni the ‘vodka mom’ and viciously ridiculed her. The nickname and story was picked up by news agencies who continued the harangue. Cyberspace sheeple followed the popular Grace’s lead and took the cruel humiliation, abuse, and threats online.

TwinCities.com’s Pioneer Press reports that this isn’t the first time a subject of Nancy Grace’s particular brand of judgmental derision has killed herself.

I am not condoning Medrano or her actions in any way. But I am saying that with popular celebrities modeling bullying behavior it’s no wonder kids follow suit in schools.

To stop our school children from becoming bullies we must stop giving adult bullies not only our permission, but financial rewards for public bullying. Bullying isn’t entertainment and shouldn’t be promoted as such.

Two Lesbian Teens Shot in Texas Park


Breaking news from Texas. Mollie Olgin, 19, and Mary Chapa, 18, were found with gunshot wounds to the head. Olgin died from her wound, and Chapa is in stable, but serious condition.

Portland Police Chief, Randy Wright, said the indications are a third party was involved, and that it did not seem random.
Friends of the girls are shocked, saying the two were kind and innocent, and no one had ever given them trouble because of their relationship.
Hate crime? We just don’t know. Bullycide? Again, we just don’t know.

Bus Monitor Bullied

First we saw the viral video of school bus monitor Karen Klein being bullied on the bus by middle school boys, and it rang a few bells with people.

Next we heard of generous donations pouring in to help give poor Karen Klein a vacation. The original goal was $5,000 – a respectable amount for a public school employee whose yearly salary is $15,000.

Then the donations poured in and the next day the total was a whopping $30,000! And the latest I hear put the final figure at $540,000!! Eleven times the original goal, and a cool half million dollars. I’m sure the poor bus monitor couldn’t have imagined such an outpouring of support that humiliating day on the bus.

The bullies have since apologized for their shocking behavior, and rightfully so. They should also have to do some kind of community service, but that’s just my opinion.

Now the conversation is turning to the plight of teachers and principals in this day of cyber bullying. And about time, too!

I’m very happy things worked out so well for Mrs. Klein. I wish her only good things in her future.

And I wish the same sort of successful outcome for all bullying victims – whether their torment becomes a viral video, or not.

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It’s June – the gayest month of the year! Pride events are already springing up across our great nation with rainbows flying proudly. Families are bringing picnics, musicians are performing in the open air. Booths, displays and giveaways give free information and entertainment to the LGBT community. Children have their faces painted, pretty beads and balloons are everywhere. People stroll in public parks and down public streets holding hands or even kissing. And nobody has to hide. There is no shame allowed. That’s why it’s called PRIDE, by the way.

I’m old enough to remember the first struggling Pride parades (if not old enough to have actually participated in any). And I grew up in an area of the country where conservative values have a choke hold on the community. So I’d never seen anything like the Twin Cities Pride, that is until 2002. The parade alone pulled a quarter of a million people, not all of them lesbians, or gays, or bisexuals, or transgendered folks. A whole lot of supportive straight friends and families contribute to the atmosphere of acceptance and collective strength. If you’re supportive of gay rights, find your local Pride event and go down and check it out. If you have friends that are supportive, bring them along. The more public support we have, the better.
President Obama may never have been to a Pride festival, and probably won’t for quite awhile. But I’m sure, absolutely positive, that he’s welcome at any one he might choose to visit. Here is his declaration of June 2012 as National LGBT Pride Month:

I never thought I’d live to see the day that I’d have a black president endorsing gay marriage and offering public support for our civil rights. Why, it’s enough to give one Pride, with a capital ‘P’.


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