News stories around the country are comparing it to the Stonewall Riots of 40 years ago that gave birth to the modern gay liberation movement. Ironically, it happened on the actual anniversary date and around the same time that the New York bar was raided. Only this time, it was in Fort Worth, Texas.

On June 28 around 1:00 a.m., police and Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) agents entered the Rainbow Lounge in Fort Worth for what they said was a routine inspection for liquor-related violations and in the melee that followed, one man was hurt. Twenty-six-year-old Chad Gibson is still in intensive care with a serious head injury. What happened depends on who you talk to ...

Police say that patrons of the Rainbow Lounge made “sexually explicit motions” toward the officers, and one groped a cop’s crotch. Twenty people were pulled outside for questioning. Seven were arrested for allegedly being publicly intoxicated.

Patrons say that police officers were abusive and used excessive force. Todd Camp, who founded Q Cinema, Fort Worth’s LBGT film festival, told the Dallas Voice, “No one I saw appeared to be highly intoxicated, and the way they were choosing people just appeared to be random harassment. They were pretty violent in grabbing people, and one guy was shoved to the ground and handcuffed.”

“I have been in plenty of bars when the TABC checks happened, and this was not like anything I have ever seen before,” Camp added.

Lots of others confirmed what Camp said. Justin McCarty, who worked security for the bar, saw an officer throw Gibson to the ground. “It was just brutal,” he said.

Alison Egert watched officers throw Gibson against the wall and then the floor. “Here you have this gay man who looked like he weighed 100 pounds,” she said, “thrown to the floor with six cops on top of him. That’s when I started noticing that they were only arresting men, and they seemed to be targeting the smaller men.”

“The people in there were scared,” Egert said. “They were all getting out of their (police officers’) way. No one resisted arrest. They were singling out specific people, the men who seemed more effeminate. It just seems like it was a deliberate jab at the community.”

None of the eye witnesses saw any officers getting groped or being in any way sexually harassed. Even if they had been, it doesn’t justify beating a 26-year-old to the point that he’s fighting for his life.

In the aftermath of the incident, Police Chief Jeff Halstead is saying that everyone should “take a deep breath.”

A deep breath isn’t going to change the fact that Halstead and his officers have a lot of explaining to do.

Tommi Avicolli Mecca is co-editor of Avanti Popolo: Italians Sailing Beyond Columbus, and editor of Smash the Church, Smash the State: The Early Years of Gay Liberation, which has just been published by City Lights Books. His website: