Kentucky Lesbian Couple and Children Attacked by Anti-Gay Crowd at Fireworks Display: REPORT

The Kentucky Equality Federation has asked the U.S. Justice Department to look into a report of an attack on a lesbian couple, Misty Turner and Brandy Standifer, and their children which took place on July 4 in Pathfork, a town in southeast Kentucky, at a fireworks display in a church parking lot.

Pathfork The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that a group of people shot fireworks at the couple and their children, taunted them with anti-gay slurs, and threatened to kill them.

The complaint sent to Kentucky Equality Federation:

I am a lesbian and have been with my partner for 5 1/2 years now. I have two small children, that we raise together as a family =) Accross the street from were we were parked, a party was going on and there was approx. 50+ people drinking and shooting fireworks. The crowd kept shooting fireworks in our direction, until one exploded near us, injuring my 2 children, several other family members, and my 80 yr old grandma. I addressed the crowd and told them to stop firing that they had hurt my children.. they proceeded to yell profanities at me including "We'll set everyone of the little Mother F**kers on fire!" At this time my father walked toward the crowd, and in effort to stop him I went behind him, once I had got away from my car I was attacked by a woman saying she was gonna kill me.

At this time my partner tried to stop her, and we were attacked by at least 15 men. All yelling "If you wanna look like a man, then fight like one" We were also called lesbians, whores, "pu**y licking whores" and dikes. No one else in our group was attacked but us. Then a gun was pulled and pointed at us and we were told "I'll kill your dike asses"… In the end, no shots were fired but my partner has suffered extensive contusions and at least one rib fracture, she is still undergoing treatment. I suffered from a closed head injury and intrasinus hemorrhage which is being treated now and damage is not yet determined. We were only able to identify 3 of the men involved. We pressed charges through the county attorney on July 5th. Today was our first appearance in court. A lawyer named Otis Doan is representing the other parties.. while testifying he questioned me about my lifestyle, he was very discrimating and ask me "do you promote this kind of life?" and made the comment "your a lesbian and live in Harlan county" then ask me if I still had "custody" of my children being a lesbian!!!

I was outraged but told him that it was called equality and I was not against any lifestyle. The judge did not stop his comments. One of the men was convicted to be sent to a grand jury for a felony, the other was dismissed, but we have to try and convict according to the county attorney. This has been a long process with a lot more to go. We need support for the gay community in this area. Otherwise, the court will use our sexuality against our case. PLEASE help us.. this was a hate crime and I believe the evidence should speak for itself. Thank you!! ~~

The Kentucky Equality Federation's press release regarding the Justice Dept. is here.

(image – pathfork, ky via wikipedia)


  1. justinw says

    This couple needs to get out of there. Fast. They have children to be thinking of, and fighting off a bunch of dumb hicks in rural Kentucky is not a battle they can win over the long haul.

  2. HadenoughBS says

    As a native Kentuckian, I can’t think of much worse places for an out (or even perceived) LGBT person to live, especially with young children, than in eastern Kentucky areas like Harlan. Even without the typical backwards mountain folk stereotype, it’s a difficult place for anyone to exist. I hate to say it but this family should move somewhere safer ASAP since they now have this “targeted” notoriety about their lives.

  3. says

    In fact, I can’t understand why out LGBT people continue to live in places like Kentucky, Mississippi and Alabama at all. I suspect it’s high time for LGBT to get out of the South in general and those states in particular. Those two are very lucky they got away with the injuries they did, because it seems like that crowd wanted them dead.

  4. Francis says

    So sad, but yes, once again a reminder that if you’re LGBT, or a straight ally or anything other than homophobic, living in rural Kentucky is just not a viable option. And I’m glad there is attention being brought to this case, hopefully there is more that can be done and there is justice. Anything we can do?

  5. Mark says

    Getting out of there, I’m sure, would be something they would love to do. But not everyone can just get up and go, and seeing as they live in Eastern KY, they probably aren’t too well-off. Let’s hope they can find the assistance they need to get away.

    Things like this happen everywhere, lets not kid ourselves and generalize here. There is nothing more I hate than seeing a minority population such as the gay community generalize and stereotype, when it is something we daily must battle against.

    I am from Kentucky (Louisville, none the less) but have traveled extensively visiting all regions of my beautiful state. 99% of the time you meet lovely, well-meaning people that will treat you with respect.

    Some of my good friends are from Eastern KY and they are my strongest supporters.

    Please, hold your tongue and stop generalizing if you one day hope to end this practice on all types of people.

  6. says

    this sounds like you all are blaming the victims- the point is we should be able to live freely in every city in the US, not just the safe ones.
    Instead of asking why they live there, i second john lee hart and ask:
    what can i do to help?? if anyone has any idea email me.

  7. DLRnATL says

    I’m certainly torn on what to say. Thankfully, I live in a mostly liberal oasis of the south, Atlanta, and have not had to deal with such militant homophobia, at least directed toward me. My ambivalence comes from the idea that they should leave in order to protect their children and their persons versus the idea that it can only get better by that community seeing LGBT live there without any kind of fear. It certainly reminds me of other hate groups causing fear in minorities in order to keep their community “homogeneous.” If not for those who fought against such discrimination, civil rights may never have moved forward.

  8. jason says

    This is appalling and completely un-Christian. We need to go to this Kentucky town and make our presence felt with a kiss-in or some such. Tell the bigots where to go.

  9. Melissa says

    I live in Kentucky and have never had any kind of problems while my partner and I are out. It is not Kentucky and other southern states, it is the people, which are everywhere!!!!
    I used to live in Louisville which is a big city here in Kentucky, but last year moved to a small town called Shepherdsville, and still have not had any problems. We too have two children we raise together, and there’s not been any problems for them in school, or our neighborhood.
    You can not blame these problems on the state people live in, like I said before it is the PEOPLE period, and how they are raised!
    My partner and I would be willing to do whatever it is we can do to help this situation!!……. And our prayers go out to this family!

  10. JNJ says

    I have to agree with Mark and the others, it’s the people that create hate, not the State. I grew up in Central-Eastern KY, traveled the world and have returned, now living in Louisville. Mostly it’s about exposed, lack of education and upbringing.

    And well… the banjos – run if you ever hear banjos.

  11. David W says

    Ah, yes, Eastern Kentucky. When I went to a small meeting of gay men in that part of the state about 10 years ago, they met in a house behind drapes, and several of them looked behind them at the door before entering. Those people down there may drive cars, but they’re still living in the 16th century. It’s a mistake to paint the entire state of Kentucky because of the ignorance displayed by people out in the boonies. Louisville, Lexington, and other areas are gay-supportive, Lexington even has a gay mayor. But it’s the actions of people out in the rural areas that always cause a big image problem for us here, and unfortunately that’s what CNN and other news outlets pick up on. If you moved to Louisville and spent your money here, you’d feel as safe as in any other big city in the country.

  12. Rick says

    @Doc Marten Have you ever even been to the South? There is a gay bar right on the beach in Biloxi, Mississippi with a huge rainbow displayed on the sign and they have never, to my knowledge had an incident. Recently, the Birmingham News published its first gay marriage announcement, right alongside the straight announcements. Lexington, Kentucky just elected an OPENLY GAY MAYOR, which neither New York nor San Francisco has even come close to doing yet. Pensacola Beach, Florida is virtually taken over by gay people every Memorial Day and most of the hotels hang rainbow flags from the rafters as a welcoming gesture.

    So please educate yourself. The entire South does not consist of hillbillies like the mob described in this story.

    Yes, the South is deeply conservative and deeply religious and quite homophobic at the “official” level, but that does not normally translate to personal animosity in most instances–at the personal level, most people just “deal with it” like they would anywhere else in the world……that is just the way the culture is, which is baffling, I know, to people who have never spent enough time in the region to be able to really understand the culture, but that is the way it is…..

  13. Deb Adkinson says

    We still live in these states because if you run….THEY WIN. We stay to show them that we are just like them. They can’t scare us. This is OUR HOME, too. We educated them. I realize some people will never change. But we have to find a way to live together. We are not going away.

  14. Hollywood, CA says

    Some great teachable moments: 1) If someone shoots 1 firework at you, leave the area immediately and call the police. 2) If you are threatened, and have your CHILDREN with you, leave the area immidiately and call the police. This includes older family members as well. 3) If you are outnumbered 3 to one, and someone is being violent towards you, leave the area immediately and call the police. 4) If you see a crowd of 50+ people that you know from experience do not support the gay community and have been hostile, make sure you are noweher near them. Take the opportunity to find a safe place for yuo and your family. 5) Do not fuel the fire by trying to reason with people who have been drinking and are bigots. This never goes over well, unless you outnumber them 3 to 1. SAFETY FIRST. We do not win if we bleed. Pick your battle and your battle areas. Also, invest in a digital camera that takes clear video. The court of public opinion can work swifter than what sounds like an antiquated court system in that region. It can also pull national attention and cause some real change (See many YouTube posts in the past on this site alone). – I hoep you and your family get some justice!

  15. Lauren says

    There is a special place in hell for people so ignorant as to attack someone for being gay. Hopefully, all those idiots get what’s coming to them.

  16. Carmen says

    I think these women are so courageous to stand their ground and press charges and to ask for help to fight this kind of hate right where they are. As a proud Kentuckian, who was in fact raised in eastern Kentucky, my partner and I returned to the area to raise our children. We spent several years living out and proud near my family in eastern Kentucky and received love and support from many, and I KNOW we changed others ideas about the LGBT community. It is wrong to paint the entire state, or even one area as inherently hateful. There are many wonderful, progressive loving people throughout the Kentucky, the South, and other rural areas, and those of us in the LGBT community who love these places and call them home, should not have to live in fear. While there may be work to be done, change will only happen when people stand up to this kind of violence (which can happen anywhere). Standing up DOES make change. I agree that these women need support, not blame for their choice of a home.

  17. Rob says

    Some of these comments are silly. “They should get out”. Really? If they had the money to do so, do you think they’d still be there?
    Don’t blame the victims.

    The ONLY thing I think they should have done differently was to get the US Justice Department looking into the Hate Crime angle much sooner. I’d be calling them within a week, maximum.

  18. Christy says

    We all come from the same creator. We should not be judged by what sexuality we choose. I say stand up and fight for what you believe in. Who are these people to decide what is right and wrong. We wil all stand before the one and only judge at some point in our lives so until then people should be able to be who they want to be & love who they want to love and not have to live in fear. If the world took all the energy they spend in hating and did something positive with that energy can you imagine what a beautiful world this would be??

  19. says

    Folks keep saying that they should “get out.” Aside from the financial considerations, not to mention the upheaval of leaving their home and family (the article mentions a grandmother), I’d ask “and go where?”

    When my family was attacked for being gay by a drunk guy with a 9mm, we were in Southern VT, 20min from Brattleboro, a town of retired hippies that helped lead the charge for civil unions and gay marriage in that state.

    Besides, we’ve seen an increase in anti-gay and anti-trans hate crimes and murders in places like NYC.

    This idea that any of us who choose to live a more rural life, or simply don’t wish to live in a gay ghetto have ourselves to blame for what befalls us is lunacy. And the idea that somehow if you’re in the Northeast or West Coast, you’re automatically safe, and if you’re in the South you’re automatically in danger leads in turns to complacency and paranoia.

    There are people that hate us everywhere, and in turn, people who support us everywhere.

  20. Corey says

    I think it is so sad that so many people are telling them to just run away and move. I agree that living is such a rural backwards place may have its cons, but this is their home. This is where their family lives.

    We didn’t get to where we are today by running everytime something like this happens. We make it public and give awareness to it and address the situation. Regardless of where they live, this kind of hate crime cannot go on unpunished.

    Thats like 1/2 of you commentors saying that Mathew Sheppard shouldn’t have been in Wyoming where his home was… I will add to what some of the other productive comments has said and say “what can i do to help”.

  21. Tami says

    I live in Louisville, and I am appalled that this happened to you in Kentucky. Just because there are bigots who the law protects doesn’t mean you should have to leave your homes. If every black person had moved out of Mississippi Georgia and Alabama, then Civil Rights wouldn’t have happened and they would still be getting away with this crap down there. I hope you find good lawyers, good support, and know that if you have to leave Eastern Kentucky, we would welcome you and your partner and children in Louisville. Not all Kentuckians are full of hate.

  22. Tanner says

    Come on down to New Orleans. We celebrate people who are different down here! If you prefer to live in the country, there are many beautiful rural areas that surround New Orleans where you will be safe also. Please let us know what we can do to help you.


  23. Ladislav says

    This is the same state were brothers screw their sisters, dads screw their sons and no animals are safe from either. A bunch of inbred, oxycotin popping wack jobs. These are the people that for every dollar then send to Washington get $1.75 back.

  24. Brad says

    Yes, it is true that the rural parts of Kentucky have this homophobic mentality, but other parts of the state do not. I live in Lexington and people are accepting. We even have an openly gay mayor. Please don’t generalize the entire state just because of some uneducated people in the rural part of it.

Leave A Reply