We meet the second Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at Tyler Unity Center, 14024 Hwy 155 South in Tyler (2.8 miles south of Loop 323).
Chapter Name: East Texas PFLAG
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 130703
Phone Number: 903-330-8901
East Texas PFLAG November Monthly Meeting
SPECIAL PFLAG MEETING
NOVEMBER 11, 2013
TYLER UNITY CENTER
14024 HWY. 155 SOUTH
SPEAKER: WESLEY BEARD
We want to invite all of you out to our November PFLAG Meeting. It has been 20 years since the brutal murder of Nicholas West. Wesley Beard will be sharing his story of the events surrounding West murder and his national advocacy efforts on behalf of the East Texas LGBT community. Come, learn some of the history in our LGBT community, and thank Beard for his work.
About Nicholas West’s Murder
Nicholas West, a 23-year-old gay man, was kidnaped from Bergfeld Park in Tyler on November 30, 1993, transported to a deserted area, stripped of his clothes, brutally beaten, and then sadistically murdered. His body, discovered two days later, was found face down in a sand pit ten miles from his Tyler, Texas, home. There were at least 25 wounds from bullets entering, exiting, and reentering parts of his body. According to the coroner, West died from a final shot to the head.
Fear in East Texas
The five men arrested for this horrific crime boasted to authorities they looked for homosexuals to rob and assault. Their admission frightened gays and lesbians in East Texas who stopped venturing far from home. Beard came to their rescue by shining a light on their plight.
Disturbed by the lack of outcry from the local community, Beard, then only 21 years of age, brought national attention to this crime by helping to organize the first gay and lesbian "Stop The Hate" rally in Tyler, by his willingness to be interviewed, and by his willingness to appear on national shows such as the Phil Donahue Show and Larry King Live. The rally, held on January 8, 1994, drew over a thousand people not only from East Texas, but also from Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, Houston and Louisiana. Thanks to Beard, West’s murder was reported by the Texas Triangle, a weekly gay publication. With this small beginning, the story was picked up by the New York Times. Only then did any Texas newspaper cover the story.
Beard endured threats to his life along with verbal abuse as he brought national attention to a hate crime which originally received little attention in East Texas. He was recognized by PFLAG in their first Human Rights Award for Bravery, receiving a $2500 award, which he recently donated back to East Texas PFLAG.
You won’t want to miss this opportunity to hear Beard share his story of those events 20 years ago. Mark your calendar now for November 11. All are welcome.