The sad truth well-known among the LGBTQ+ community is what should be our safe spaces, in this case our very neighborhoods where we walk dogs and raise children, can quickly become unsafe due to one menacing bigot. That officers often don’t want to get involved with such an incident is shockingly all too common. Wendy Blitz Dragoon--a caregiver for people with developmental disabilities, and mother of five who also coaches junior roller derby--and and her spouse, Tru Dragoon who works with Ron Tonkin Honda, just experienced this. The pair were simply walking the dog through their neighborhood on a summer afternoon. What’s more, the dog in this case wasn’t even theirs. They were simply being good neighbors.
I am amazed at the grace and decorum the couple is able to show through their recent and now viral video recording of harassment. Dragoon, when we spoke, was even able to laugh a few times. To lay an easy-to-digest foundation: below please find her fairy tale gone wrong describing the incident.
Warning: please pardon any harsh language.
Since everyone is so confused as to what happened BEFORE the video, I wrote a story.
Once upon a time in a mythical land far, far away called Portland a dyke found a pupper and zoom zoomed home to tell their wife to post pics of the pup on FB. After an hour long eternity of not finding the owners the dyke’s very smart wife shouted “LET’S SEE IF MR. PUPPER MAN CAN TAKE US TO HIS HOME!” So sweety pants dykey poo and their incredibly brilliant, and startlingly beautiful, femme wife put pupperooni on a leash and went for a walk. Suddely, they arrived at an intersection. The doggo wanted to proceed forward. Dykester and Femmebot looked left. Then looked right. A truck was approaching but it was far away and not menacing so they stepped once. Then twice. They kept stepping forward until they were in the middle of the intersection. Suddenly, the truck got very loud and very fast and sped towards them! Dykerooni and Femmykins jumped on the curb and yelled “what the fuck, dude?!?” Their language was awful but they were fearful and shocked. Floppy haired blonde boy, who was no prince at all, yelled “get out of the road you fucking dykes!” Out of nowhere, the truck u-turned and came to a halt. Next, would be surfer boy jumped out of the vehicle and lunged toward dyke pants Mcgoo and yelled “I’ll beat the fuck out of these dykes!” He retreated when he realized his words of anger and shame did not make dykster recoil, but instead made them stronger! Suddenly, femmly poppins was like “oh shit! If he hits my wife, I should probably have evidence!” and hit record.
And the rest is history.
But, alas it’s not the end. The pair have been treated unfairly by the police. It took multiple visits from officers to file a report.
“The police officer who showed up refused to take a statement, or our names. Later, he came back. He once again refused to take a statement,” Dragoon told PQ. “Another officer said there was no proof about us being attacked for our sexuality. He didn’t take a statement or our names. The day after, when the video went viral, they finally decided to open an investigation.”
However, and many queer people have experienced this kind of treatment from the police, the officer seemed to downplay the incidents the Dragoons went through.
“The same officer told us dealing with our situation was not a priority. He even went on to say my being vocal and angry could damage my case,” Dragoon said indignantly. “Basically, if I was hiding and afraid that looks more convincing than if I was being vocal and angry.”
Dragoon felt this meant, “As a woman it would look better for your case if you were hiding and afraid.” Ultimately the couple chose to go another route in their pursuit of justice.
“We spoke to an independant police auditor and they are filing a complaint. We’re in the first step of that, and we’ll see where it goes,” Dragoon said.
The family lives in the Woodstock neighborhood of Portland. Dragoon, a native Portlander, was raised in what she describes as “the Portland Bubble.” She didn't expect this treatment in her own backyard. The house where the offending parties either live or reside, due to the home being an active construction site, is a mere six or seven houses away from the Dragoons.
“We’ve owned this house for six years. Across from us there’s a lesbian couple. Several houses on the block have acceptance signs. A neighbor even made a little library for us, with the pride flag on one side and the transgender flag on the other,” she added, wondering if she should take it down or cover up the images. “It never even occured to us that we wouldn’t be safe here, in our neighborhood. Tru is the one in the video. Tru has never been able to hide their queerness. They’ve always heard things like this,” Dragoon said--mentioning her partner has heard insults from passig cars, glares, etc. “But, I look very straight. So, I’ve never experienced this. We weren’t even holding hands. I’ve never questioned whether or not I should. I’ve never felt not safe. So, for somebody to attack us in some way when we were not even holding hands--we were just existing. I’ve never thought it would be something to worry about here.”
If you have not seen the video, it’s attached in this article. There were several people emerging from or surrounding a truck. The main offender was identified after the video went viral, from an unlikely source. Apparently, the blond young man in the video was identified as 18-year-old Nathaniel Ball by family members.
“He has two sisters,” Dragoon explained. “One has removed herself from the family and the other sister--she claims he stole her pain medication after she broke her leg.”
Apparently, Ball has a criminal background, and one of the sisters the Dragoons were in contact with claim he has stolen pain medication from them. He is under probation. Ball’s sisters contacted his probation officer. Dragoon and her partner plan to as well. Whether or not that goes along with the officer who told the family it would look better for their case if they were “hiding and afraid.”
Of course, there are two sides to every story. The older man, with a long beard has been identified as Josh Southard. It appears he hired the younger man, Nathaniel Ball, to do construction work for him. He delivered a long, rambling, and seemingly incoherent video on Facebook. This was an attempt to remove himself, and his young employee, from being named as instigators. Southard claimes he was faced with harassment by the “sexual preference community.” Apparently, the Dragoons as queer people, by walking past his property were in the wrong by having some sort of unlicensed Pride event.
Both Dragoon and I laughed at the use of the term “sexual prefernce community.” Doesn’t that mean if a straight couple walked past the Dragoon home they could react in a similr vein to Southard and Ball? In keeping with her strength, and brave face against discrimination, she still has a sense of humor.
“A friend of mine is making tee shirts with “sexual preference community” on them,” Dragoon said. “We’re donating funds to the Sexual & Gender Minority Youth Resource Center (SMYRC) here in Portland.”
This is a developing story. PQ wants to hear from you if you experience any anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination in Portland, Seattle, or San Francisco, the three markets which we serve. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any stories, experiences, or leads. Thank you! Stay strong, stay proud.