Wednesday, March 25, 2015

GCV Statement: Zero Tolerance - Threats Matter

Bullying and threats are an important issue in the LGBT community. As a leader in the LGBT community, Gay Central Valley takes public threats and cyber bullying very seriously. 

A couple of our board members were called out on a Facebook thread on Tuesday March 24th on a community member’s page. The community member that started that thread is Michelle Nastasis, a former volunteer with Gay Central Valley. Nastasis has a long history of bullying and harassing a multitude of people through her Facebook page. The post started with the suggestion of physical violence toward others and took a very ugly turn in the comments (some comments have since been changed or removed, but the original thread is posted below). It was suggested by those commenting that one board member be physically hurt and another board member was threatened with gun violence. The gun threat came from an LGBT Community member, a leader with a local transgender support group, a former board member at Gay Central Valley and an active member of the Trevor Project, Leon Velasco. The gun threat was supported by Nastasis. 

Any reason behind the comments are irrelevant. Bullying and particularly direct threats of harm to anyone on a public site are to be denounced and brought to light in order to protect those threatened, as well as others in the community. We are sending a clear message that this behavior cannot be tolerated .

It is especially disturbing when shown in context , with the recent “Sodomite Suppression Act” (the “Kill the Gays” bill) ballot initiative used as a sounding board and a call to action by one of our own. This action shows an alarming disregard for violence against LGBT people, and women in particular, something the transgender community deals with on a daily basis.

A portion of the comment thread is below…

We all disagree from time to time on a wide variety of issues. That is to be expected. But we are also expected to act as responsible adults and never, ever promote physical violence against others in a public forum. Bullying and threats cannot be tolerated and we’ve all seen the tragic outcome of such incidents. Even if the poster of the comments does nothing based on their own words, this kind of public activity has the potential to empower others to use violence as a means to rectify dislikes or disagreements.

We reached out to Transemotion, the Fresno transgender support group that Leon Velasco is a board member of, and Michelle Nastasis has attended, for their comments before we posted this letter. 

Transemotion leaders have been informed and have denounced the actions. They have assured us they are taking immediate and appropriate actions. Any statement and further details we receive from them will be posted.

We at Gay Central Valley felt it was our responsibility to bring this action to light in order to protect our board members and to send a powerful message that this kind of thing cannot be tolerated by anyone at any time. As LGBT Americans, we battle threats of abuse and violence from outside our community on a daily basis. That is hard enough without seeing it coming from members of our own community as well. Gay Central Valley has alerted the police to the threats.

If you are a victim of bullying/threats, it’s vital to contact the police the same day the incident happens. Fresno Police Department : 559-621-7000 (non emergency) – Clovis Police Department  : 559-324-2800

If you are a victim of domestic violence please call the Marjaree Mason Center at 559-233-4357. 

For general assistance in the LGBT community please call the Fresno LGBT Community Center at 559-325-4429

This letter has been approved by the GCV Board of Directors:

Chris Jarvis

Kaylia Metcalfe Armstrong

Kayleia Southard

Paul Hernandez

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