Originally published on Advocate.com January 16, 2013
By Sunnivie Brydum
Four gay men were allegedly subjected to antigay slurs and a physical assault at a screening of the new Barbara Streisand movie, Guilt Trip, in Lafayette, La. on Sunday. The alleged assailant, 37-year-old Joseph Menard Jr., has been arrested and charged with two counts of simple battery, according to The Advertiser.
Walt Jamison, 23, told The Advertiser that he and his partner and two gay friends met at a local theater Sunday to see the new Streisand movie costarring Seth Rogen, but were almost immediately assaulted by a man sitting behind them, who began by loudly referring to the group of men by a gay slur.
When Jamison’s partner responded with an inquisitive “Excuse me?” Menard “stood up and leaned over us and started screaming hate slurs peppered with profanities,” Jamison told The Advertiser.
Another woman in the theater reportedly asked Menard to stop yelling, since her young children were in the audience, but Menard insulted that woman and told her to sit down.
That’s when Menard allegedly punched Jamison’s partner in the back of the head, hard enough that “he did rock forward,” said Jamison. Once his partner exited the theater in search of management, Jamison says Menard took a swing at him, grazing his cheek and knocking his glasses to the floor.
Police were called to the scene, and later arrested Menard and his wife — who fled the theater after the altercation — for simple battery and resisting arrest. Jamison said that police and theater staff were considerate and respectful, and noted Menard’s antigay comments in the police report. Even so, Menard has not been charged with a hate crime.
A police spokesman told The Advertiser he was unsure why officers did not charge Menard with a hate crime, but noted that because the homophobic comments are in the police report, the prosecutor and judge may consider adding such charges when Menard appears in court.
“I want people to know that not only is his behavior obviously unacceptable, and he has suffered consequences and hopefully will continue to suffer consequences as a result,” Jamison told The Advertiser. “But just because you’re different does not mean that you have to take this lying down.”