Alabama | Crime | News

Lesbian Beaten by a Dozen People at an Alabama Bar


Laura Gilbert, a 25-year-old lesbian, was beaten by a gang of people at a bar called The Villa in Opelika, Alabama. Reports appear to suggest it had to do with the woman's sexual orientation.

WRBL reports: Villa

Sheriff Jay Jones says his deputies are trained to report hate bias...but that is not what happened Saturday night after a gay woman was beaten outside The Villa off Highway 169 in Opelika, according to police reports. That woman is 25-year-old Laura Gilbert who had never been to the bar before. Gilbert says she said aloud before heading there for a friend's birthday, "I don't think they like my kind there."

Gilbert and her friend from high school, Sheila Siddall, say they went there to sing karoake. "As soon as we walked in the bar, I felt uncomfortable," Gilbert said. "I felt everybody staring at us, but you know, it was her birthday, I didn't want to ruin it for her."

Gilbert and Siddall say as they were about to leave, a woman confronted them and started to fight with them. The fight grew to include about a dozen people, including two men, and moved outside, according to the women.

Nobody was arrested, except for Gilbert:

"They didn’t take our side of the story," Gilbert said. "They took their side of the story, and then all of a sudden, they come up behind me and tell me to put my hands behind my back, that I’m going to jail."

Gilbert was the only person arrested that night for disorderly conduct and public intoxication, but witnesses say many people were intoxicated.

Gilbert says police have not tried to get her side of the story:

"I'm an American just like the rest of us are," Gilbert said. "I have rights. I have the same rights as y'all do, supposedly, but people from here don't look at it that way."

Watch WRBL's report, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. This is horrible and it's exactly why I am always reminding my friends to not get too comfortable. We've made progress but there's still wackos to be found.

    *The after the jump link is broken.*

    Posted by: Steven | Feb 4, 2011 1:31:37 PM

  2. This is why you don't go to backwards, Bible-thug infested places like Alabama. If you have the misfortune of being born there, then you get out.

    Posted by: Max | Feb 4, 2011 1:35:06 PM

  3. the media cannot let this story die until her side of the story is heard and law enforcement's actions are fully investigated. why there is no outcry over this is a mystery to me. why aren't her friends screaming about this too? absolutely disgraceful.

    Posted by: EO | Feb 4, 2011 1:52:47 PM

  4. Amerikkka at it's best. Land of the free home of the brave - indeed.

    Posted by: jakeinlove | Feb 4, 2011 1:56:41 PM

  5. The last three reported hate crimes in America I believe have been in Alabama. Talking to people from that state of a discussion about gay teens, I can tell you, that state is flat out homophobic. The police doing nothing is no surprise whatsoever, pack herd mentality. This is a tragedy, I'm so sorry for Ms. Gilbert. Hopefully she and her friends continue to make their story heard and make it as public as possible. Ask for video recordings the night of the fight, find witnesses. This cannot go down without fuss and fury.

    Posted by: Francis | Feb 4, 2011 2:01:09 PM

  6. The good news is I've worked for the company that owns WRBL. They produce high quality newscasts and I'm sure they'll follow this story until they get some answers.

    Posted by: Ant | Feb 4, 2011 2:12:12 PM

  7. I disagree with Max on this. Yes, it is easy to leave a place that makes you hurt, but leaving is letting them win. Imagine the power hateful people would have if we all moved to a "gay safe" state. Their hate and ignorance would grow and grow with no one to temper it and we'd all be in one convenient place if they decided to drop a bomb.

    We should not run away. We should stay where we are and fight for equality.

    Thank you, Andy, for posting this.

    Posted by: AndyWarholsWig | Feb 4, 2011 2:26:47 PM

  8. Gee, Andy Warhol, I'm sure I could introduce you to some African American people who left that open air concentration camp for them better known as the South in the '60's and '70's. They didn't give a damn if they were "letting them win" when they did the sensible thing and LEFT. They left because it was a matter of LIFE or DEATH. It's the same way for the LGBT community today. It's only a matter of time until we start hearing of lynchings-oh, in fact, that's already happening there. IMO, best thing to do is leave the South to the bigots.

    Posted by: Doc Marten | Feb 4, 2011 2:58:15 PM

  9. bama again? Cut that welfare state off until it gets its act together.

    Posted by: TANK | Feb 4, 2011 3:04:33 PM

  10. Alabama has a HUGE African American population. MUCH higher than America as a whole. There are towns, cities, whole counties with majority black populations.

    And 99% of black folks I've ever known [I grew up and live in a VERY DIVERSE place] have a major hard-on for all things southern. Most black folks are obsessed with The South, like it's a homeland or something. I was recently talking to a young black dude about moving to different parts of the country; he said he'd never go out west because he didn't want to live that far from The South.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Feb 4, 2011 4:39:55 PM

  11. Doc marten, I understand what you're saying, but if all of those African Americans had left the South in the 60's then we'd have no black senators, doctors, lawyers, or for that matter, any happy African American families in the South at all. Instead, we'd have 6 or 7 states full of white supremacists holding sway in Washington.
    No one should want to - or be expected to - leave their home because of another person's hatred.

    Posted by: AndyWarholsWig | Feb 4, 2011 5:18:03 PM

  12. Thanks AndyWarholsWig.

    Opelika is full of nothing but rednecks and Turd (University of Alabama) fans.

    Help us Alabamians put pressure on Jay Jones to do the right thing.

    Posted by: clint | Feb 4, 2011 7:41:24 PM

  13. I'm from Opelika and am neither a redneck nor an Alabama fan. I AM an Auburn fan, as I was raised here my entire life.My sister is a lesbian and my cousin WAS a lesbian until her parents refused to have her in their lives until she "got fixed" and stopped being who she truly is. Laura and Sheila are friends of mine. I agree, we need to not only make the police responsible but also the State. We need the Hate Crimes law to include sexual orientation! I am fighting for their side of the story to come out and am doing all I can to find the people responsible, get their names, and turn them over to police. Oddly enough, the cops did perform a breatholizer on Sheila but DID NOT breatholize Laura yet, Laura was arrested for public intox? I'm ashamed of my city and state officials right now. I will do everything I can to find justice for my friends and all LGBT people who choose to live here. After all, that's a choice they can control, unlike being LGBT!

    Posted by: Lee | Feb 4, 2011 11:47:41 PM

  14. Talibama

    Posted by: Jacknasty | Feb 5, 2011 3:35:44 AM

  15. So, they went to a bar that they knew in advance would be hostile to gays, and decided to both drink AND sing karaoke?

    Because the possibility of getting beaten up and arrested is preferable over "ruining" a friend's birthday by picking someplace friendlier?

    There's some clue fuckery going on here, and painting this as a civil rights drama isn't cutting it.

    Posted by: Karl | Feb 5, 2011 6:07:58 AM

  16. @karl: i agree, lets blame the so-called victim first. why would anyone go into a mixed bar? i mean if someone doesn't like gays, that's not their problem. forget birthday parties, the bigotry of the other patrons is more important to uphold than some silly tradition like celebrating friendship. we gays should know our place, and if there isnt a gay flag and a copy of advocate in the windowsill, steer clear! civil rights issue my arse! being beaten for your sexual orientation, real or otherwise, why thats not a civil rights problem, its just a good-ole-boy miscommunication between fists and faces. lets roll back the last 50 years, things were way better when everyone kept to them selves, and closests had no doors.

    Posted by: mld | Feb 5, 2011 8:23:17 AM

  17. When I get a gut feeling upon walking into an unfriendly-looking place, (especially at night, especially in a known homophobic area) I turn around and immediately leave. It's not worth an evening of singing and fun to stay and get bashed.

    While I'm appalled this happened, the girl was obviously ignoring her instincts and sadly, paid the price.

    Posted by: johnny | Feb 5, 2011 8:24:12 AM

  18. Those who blame Laura Gilbert for her beating are as wrong as it's possible to be. They're exonerating the bigots. That's disgusting.

    Those who say we should run and hide are mistaken - we can't run far enough and we can't hide no matter where we go.

    Those who blame Laura Gilbert for her beating are as wrong as it's possible to be. They're exonerating the bigots.

    Those who say we should run an hide are mistaken - we can't run far eonough and we can't hide wherever we go.

    This kind of thing will not be ended by pathetically weak 'hate crime" laws or by relying on cops, who are more often than not bigots themselves.

    It won't be solved until we and our allies defeat the twin parties that pander to bigots, the Democrats and Republicans.

    Until that happens we have to learn to stand proud and "Walk Like an Egyptian", adopting tactics like calling demonstrations whenever it happens and, where we can. engaging in organized self defense.

    Posted by: Bill Perdue | Feb 5, 2011 9:52:46 AM

  19. Disempowerment sucks.

    Posted by: Natira | Feb 5, 2011 12:09:06 PM

  20. Please. They had a karaoke machine in that bar. It was probably filled with a bunch of self-loathing backwards toilet bangers. And we all know what happens when an out gay shows up around those Wrangler wearing closet cases. They gotta hide their tracks with a punch to the back of the head.

    Posted by: Troy | Feb 5, 2011 12:47:49 PM

  21. First of all, these are friends of mine you're talking about - Laura and Sheila. They had never been to that bar and didn't know beforehand that they would be entering a hostile environment. They just wanted to sing karaoke and that happened to be the only place to do that on a Sunday night. @Karl, how is this NOT a civil rights issue when our state doesn't include sexual orientation in the criminal code that covers hate crimes? It's got everything else,race, creed, religion,nationality, etc. Everything BUT sexual orientation.We are not all just a buch of backwoods rednecks and I, for one, won't stop doing what I can to change the law in Alabama.

    Posted by: Lee | Feb 5, 2011 8:04:24 PM

  22. If you're reading this, Laura, Sheila or her friends, contact the Alabama ACLU:

    If they won't help, try the Southern Poverty Law Center.

    When in these situations, get the name of each officer and repeat it to them when you answer a question--subtly but clearly, make sure they know you'll remember who they are.

    The only way this will stop is if all the victims in these situations start suing the bigots, and keep appealing until they reach higher courts with less prejudice. Bitching in blog comments alone won't end it.

    The only thing most of these assholes respond to is fear, so let's give them legitimate lawsuits to be afraid of.

    Posted by: Jeff | Feb 6, 2011 12:06:37 AM

  23. Welcome to America, where it's okay for a fag to kill a brown person in the Middle East for their oil, but a dozen people can beat down a dyke and the dyke gets arrested. Keep voting for Democrats and keep going to jail.

    Posted by: The Spirit of Harry Hay | Feb 6, 2011 4:14:31 PM

  24. It's sad that for one, people just cant leave others alone. If she is a lesbian, thats her choice. Has no effect on others. As for the police, they are to do a fair un -bias on site investigation. From what is in this article, it doesnt sound as though they did their job? I wasnt there, I dont know the facts. But I do know this is America, Men, Women, Children, Black , white, Brown, yellow or what ever, and what ever your sexual( legal ) choice is, it is your business, and no one has the right to beat another person. As for the two men, they say got into the beating as well, nice job guys! Did it make you feel good to help ten women to beat up two ladies?

    Posted by: Scott | Apr 7, 2011 4:14:19 PM

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