Queer community organizers are pulling together a public forum tomorrow night at the Q Center on Mississippi in response to an alarming gay bashing multiple people say occurred this weekend in the heart of downtown Portland.

Drag queen Jeffrey Darling says he and four friends were leaving Red Cap Garage's Leotard party at about 2 AM on Sunday morning, walking along 11th Avenue in wild costumes when five guys in baggy pants and baseball caps blocked their path. According to the friends, the baggy-jeans guys started shouting at the drag queens, yelling "faggots!", "trannies!" and that they would die of AIDS.

A drag queen who goes by the stage name Nefertiti Ay shouted back at the guys, says Darling. "She said, 'Fuck you! Get out of my way!' That triggered them and they all jumped us."

A performer identified as Nefertiti Ay on Flickr
  • Flickr
  • A performer identified as Nefertiti Ay on Flickr

Nefertiti and other drag queen, Itsy Von Von Bon, were hit in the face multiple times, says Darling, and they collapsed on the street. Other queer-friendly friends jumped into the fray and started throwing punches, while Itsy hollered for help to police officers, who happened to be just across the street at Rocco's Pizza, according to Darling. The assaulters scattered and Darling could not identify anyone for the police to follow. "It all happened really fast," says Darling.

The group decided to file a police report. “After it happened, there was this immense amount of anger. We feel raped. The thing we love about Portland is it’s a free and weird city, we have all these people on our side," says Darling. "It’s frickin’ gay pride month. But intolerance and ignorance is still out there. If there’s any lesson to be learned is that there’s safety in numbers.” Darling says he has never experienced any sort of physical gay bashing before, but will now start carrying mace in his bag.

Stephen Cassell is among the group spearheading the discussion forum tomorrow night at the Q Center. He has invited the district attorney's office and mayor's office to come to the event and is hoping it will educate local LGBT people on the need to file police reports when gay bashing occurs. "There’s a lot of crazy stuff going on where gay guys are saying they want to go out an buy brass knuckles now," says Cassell. "I don’t want to see my community get all into a tailpsin over this and become the vigilantes. I don’t want to see gay guys become bashers."

The forum from 7-9 pm tomorrow night, June 2, 2010 at the Q Center (4115 N. Mississippi Ave).