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Lesbian Alleges NYC Restaurant Manager Gay Bashed Her - While Patrons Egged Him On

by Kilian Melloy
Saturday Jul 30, 2011

A Queens, New York, woman says that she was set upon by the manager of a restaurant, kicked, beaten, and subjected to anti-gay expletives. She has filed suit with the support of a GLBT legal organization, a July 29 Forest Hills Patch article reported.

Liza Friedlander was a customer at the Sizzler restaurant in Forest Hills last September when the alleged assault took place. According to the suit, Friedlander had paid for the breakfast buffet and put food on her plate form the buffet when the restaurant's manager accused her of not having paid.

The manager then knocked Friedlander onto the floor and started to kick her, the suit says. During the assault, the manager allegedly hurled anti-gay expletives at Friedlander.

A July 29 story on the alleged assault said that among the slurs hurled at Frielander was the insult "fucking dyke."

Other diners then joined in the abuse, the suit says, hurling threats at the downed woman. The Advocate article said one patron said he was going to rape Frielander. Others called her a "he-she-freak."

Lesbians in South Africa are subjected to so-called "corrective rape" by men who entertain the idea that sex with a man -- even if forced -- will "convert" a lesbian and make her heterosexual.

Stories of GLBT individuals being assaulted with bystanders either joining in the violence, or looking on and doing nothing, have appeared with some regularity in recent months.

A young man Detroit was beaten by a gun-wielding assailant last March as he stood in line at a gas station convenience store. Bystanders merely laughed as Justin Alesna, 23, suffered a beating that left him with a black eye. Alesna later told his story in a YouTube video.

Another attack at a gas station drew more than the laughter of onlookers: When Joshua Esskew was jumped as he entered a convenience store in Rock Hill, South Carolina, last April, several other young men who were loitering in the parking lot immediately rushed in to deal out their own blows.

"Once they saw the fight occur, they did decide to take the opportunity to jump in and become violent," a spokesperson for the York County Sheriff's Office, Lt. Mike Baker, told the media, referring to the bystanders who became assailants as soon as they saw the beating occur. At least two men could be seen clearly in security video that law enforcement is now using as evidence.

"It was very violent, very vicious and very, very serious," Baker told the media. "We want to investigate and prosecute as such. Our main emphasis is to identify these individuals and go from there."

Esskew suffered multiple injuries, including lacerations and brain trauma. He described the attack as a "hate crime," specifically targeting him because he is openly gay.

Police responded to the alleged attack on Frielander last September, the Patch article said. Frielander received medical attention at a local hospital.

"Just because I don't appear to be the Sizzler manager's idea of what a woman should look like doesn't mean that gives him permission to attack me and allow other customers to join in," a statement by Friedlander read.

"My friends and I went in for Saturday brunch just like everyone else in the restaurant that morning, but it turned into a nightmare. No one should have to go through that."

The Patch article said that Lambda Legal is providing representation to Frielander.

"According to Lambda Legal, this will be the first case to test a bias crime law passed in August 2010 that allows individuals to be sued in civil court for anti-LGBT violence and intimidation," the Advocate reported.

The alleged attack bore more than a passing similarity to an incident in 2007, in which a masculine-looking woman was given the bum's rush out of Manhattan eatery the Caliente Cab Company.

As, "Khadijah Farmer, 28, sports a close-cropped hairdo and fairly androgynous attire. She says she is commonly mistaken for a man in public restrooms but that a quick explanation is often all it takes to clear up any confusion.

"When she attended the popular West Village eatery on June 24th, [2007,] however, she contends that the bouncer refused to heed her pleas or check her identification. Instead, she was unceremoniously rushed back to her seating area whereupon her entire party was told to leave."

"I was thrown out of the restaurant because of who I am and how I look," Farmer said in a statement. "It was humiliating. No one should be subjected to that type of discrimination."

The incident led to a suit against the restaurant, with Farmer being represented by The Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund. Pro-GLBT equality activists also picketed the eatery in protest.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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