By Gloria Rubac
Tyler, Texas

Tyler, Texas, is an ultra-conservative Bible-Belt community of 
75,000. So the reaction to the gay-bashing murder of Nicholas West 
on Nov. 30, 1993, surprised everyone.

The first lesbian and gay rights rally in Tyler was held Jan. 8. 
Over a thousand people turned out. East Texas had never seen 
anything like it.

The rally was organized by Wesley Beard, who is from East Texas, and 
Diane Hardy-Garcia, the executive director of the Lesbian/Gay Lobby 
of Texas. Joining residents of Tyler at the rally were people from 
the Texas cities of Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Austin as well 
as nearby southern Louisiana.

Hardy-Garcia said: "We came to end the violence, to prevent further 
murder and beatings of gay people. When this type of crime happens, 
we are a statewide community."

The rally drew three times as many people as a KKK rally in Tyler 
several months ago.


Nicholas West was a native of Chile who had been adopted by 
missionary parents who now live in Tyler. His adoptive family 
refused to accept his sexual orientation and did not attend the 

Many other parents of gays and lesbians did.

West was kidnapped, beaten, robbed and murdered because he was gay. 
The three men charged with his death bragged in their confessions to 
the police about killing him because he was gay.

The murder was first reported by the Texas Triangle, a gay weekly. 
It was picked up by the New York Times. Only after that did any 
Texas daily newspaper report on the crime.

Speakers at the rally talked about other gay bashings. Paul 
Broussard was beaten and stabbed to death in Houston on July 4, 
1991, by 10 suburban youths. Charlie Resendez was stomped to death 
two years ago in San Antonio.

The killer left shoe prints on Resendez's face. The judge let him 
off on probation.

At the rally, Pat Stone, president of Dallas Parents and Friends of 
Lesbians and Gays, said: "Gays and lesbians should no longer live in 
fear due to their sexual orientation. Nor should parents fear the 
loss of their children because they are gay."

One participant noted that big rallies like this one in Tyler are 
certainly a step in that direction.


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