Twenty-one year old Rick Jones was robbed, had ‘Die Fag’ carved into his arms and was forced to drink bleach. It happened in Delta, Utah (pop 3,485). But it doesn’t stop there. Five days later, the words “Die Fag” were spray-painted on his and his family’s house. And last week, a Molotov cocktail was thrown through the young man’s bedroom.
Soon after Q Salt Lake posted his story, I received a call from a national news source asking for a comment. The tone of the question was about a small Utah rural town that was persecuting a young gay man. It certainly was possible–but I wanted to go to Delta and see for myself before I had any comment. Anyway, it’s my job. After all, I was sworn in as a Utah STATE Senator, not just for Salt Lake.
I hopped in the car and drove down south and west. I expected to be enraged. And there was some of that. But, as I was driving home I felt inspired. Once again, I was touched by the people of Utah.
First, I met 21-year old Rick Jones and his family. Rick is an energetic very bright young man who has plans and a gargantuan work ethic. He is helping run the successful family restaurant and has dreams to expand to other localities around the state. I ate at the Grand Central Pizza. WOW, maybe the best pizza I ever tasted, seriously.
Talked to Millard County Sheriff Robert Dekker. I am convinced that he is taking this hate crime very seriously and is intent on bringing the perpetrators to justice. No cover-up. No protecting the good-old-boys. A serious, dedicated law enforcement leader (BTW, Sheriff, I hear there is an opening in Salt Lake.)
I walked up and down Main Street in Delta and spoke to lots of folks. I ate some dessert at the Top City Cafe. Delta is upset with what happened. This is not a redneck rural town in Louisiana or Mississippi. Very conservative, yes. Hateful absolutely not.
I am not shocked by a few hateful miserable cowardly people bitterly attacking a man. Happens too often. But we have law enforcement that is dedicated to solving the matter. What I am thrilled and inspired by is a small, rural, conservative Utah town jumping in to support one of their own under attack. That is the essence of small town America. It is the core of our shared values!
Bumped into two dazzling Delta residents. Candice and Mindy. Women who were as outraged as I was with what had happened in Delta. LDS woman that stood shoulder to shoulder with Rick and the Jones family. They hatched up a plan to hold a concert of support—against hate, in the Delta City Park with music and ‘love’. Combine the musical talents of Millard County with a caravan boatload of the gays and allies down from the Wasatch. What a great idea. I am turning things over to Equality Utah and the Pride Center. Kumbia! Maybe we can get the Tabernacle Choir and the Salt Lake Men’s Choir to appear on the bill–although we better keep the Days of ’47 (‘no gays or Mormons Building Bridges’) away from the planning.
For me, the day in Delta is one of love. Everyone, without exception, said that having the Jones family in town is a big plus and I heard nothing but good words about Rick. He is a well respected young man of Delta!
Utah, you are always surprising me. I love you.
Originally posted at The Dabakis Factor.