Last edited: December 31, 2004


Suicide in Little Rock

February 6, 1998
The GLAADAlert is the weekly activation tool of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance
Against Defamation

Once again, a newspaper's irresponsible publishing of the names and
addresses of men arrested in public sex raids has led to one of the victims
committing suicide, this time following a January 30 story in the Arkansas
Democrat-Gazette. In the story, "24 men are cited in 3-day park sting," the
newspaper published eight men's names and addresses for being arrested on
charges of "public sexual indecency: a misdemeanor." One of those men then
killed himself. The Democrat-Gazette does not print the identities of
others arrested in misdemeanor consensual sex-related offenses, or any
other misdemeanors. When the newspaper ran a June 25, 1993 article on a
major heterosexual prostitution sting, it did not identify any of the men
arrested, and even blurred the photo of one man to protect his identity.

Over a year ago, a GLAAD representative met with Frank Fellone, the deputy
managing editor of the Democrat-Gazette, in part because of past instances
of the newspaper publishing the names of men arrested in parks for
misdemeanor offenses. According to local GLAAD contacts, until January 30,
the newspaper had stopped printing the names except where a public figure
was involved. As local GLAAD contact David Ivers noted, at the meeting "We
predicted that the Democrat-Gazette was not only going to ruin careers but
drive someone to kill himself. Now it has happened. The newspaper must
understand that printing the names will not stop men from seeking out
anonymous sex with other men. That will not occur until society, including
the media, stops making it so painful and difficult for people to come out
of the closet, and until laws in employment and other areas protect
lesbians and gay men from discrimination based on their sexual orientation."

GLAAD and other organizations are currently seeking a meeting with the
editor and publisher of the Democrat-Gazette. Please contact the newspaper
and firmly but rationally explain to them the clear bias of their actions
and the intolerably dire consequences of them. Also, explain to them how
societal forces of homophobia lead deeply closeted men to end up seeking
out such furtive sexual encounters.

Contact: Walter Hussman, Publisher, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, P.O. Box
2221, Little Rock, AR 72203, phone: 501.378.3485, fax: 501.372.3908

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