Unsafe Fruit LoopsFaggots! Fairies! Queers! Hey ladies! All yelled at us from cars passing down National Ave, while we walk down the street. This is just on the way to the door.
I know this is no reason to run to the 5th Precinct and file some hate crime report.
Although, I can’t help but glance backward to make sure the cars haven’t
turned to head back in our direction.
The loud “bumpa-bumpa” of music and dancing contained within the bar meets us as we open the door and enter.
Even once we’re in the building, I can’t help but wonder, when did we become complacent being treated like this? More importantly, shouldn’t the Milwaukee Police be patrolling the “fruit loop” so I feel safe?
Chicago has an entire town for their gays on the upper west side, with the hackneyed name “Boys Town.” Here in Milwaukee we have the block, the “Fruit Loop.” This phrase was coined because the gay bars form a perimeter around one city block.
Now the busiest area of the “Fruit Loop” is around National Avenue and 2nd Street. This area has almost no parking for bar patrons, forcing them to park streets away and walk. These streets have almost no streetlights. And the surrounding neighborhood is a hop, skip, and a jump from being a ghetto.
For added fun, the “Fruit Loop” isn't solely gay bars. The block is a mix of biker bars, gay bars, and Latin bars. With this creative assortment of people and a less than desirable geography, Milwaukee Police patrolling the area is an obvious necessity.
But alas, the gay cries go unheard. I’m perpetually hearing stories of friends getting attacked, harassed, or worse while leaving one of the gay bars.
Bob Kennedy was walking to his car from La Cage and three men in a truck stopped and beat him with a fire extinguisher. On a different night, a bartender was leaving when five drunken men leaving a nearby bar pushed him to the ground and took turns kicking him.
And in a creative display of artistry, someone painted “FAGS DIE” in green spray paint across my friend’s two-week old car. Ironically, he isn’t even gay but was meeting us out for a cocktail. And these are just some events I’ve heard about in the past couple of months.
Nothing like this would happen outside Swig on Water Street or on the sidewalk near Cans on North Avenue. In these high traffic areas of Milwaukee there are large amounts of people and even larger amounts of booze consumed.
Yet aside from an occasional scrap outside a bar about whose jock is bigger, these areas are typically trouble free. Perhaps it’s the fleets of Milwaukee Police officers lining these busy streets.
I’m not saying a walk to Switch from your car is like a trip through Compton. A majority of people I’ve met around the “Fruit Loop” are friendly and respectful. Once, after a bender of karaoke and Long Islands I found my tire flat and two guys leaving Steny’s helped me change it.
But the “Fruit Loop” has proved to be dangerous for some of its gay bar patrons. Milwaukee Police Department, busy as they are, has an obligation to protect people of Milwaukee. Therefore, members of the Milwaukee Police Department should start patrolling the “Fruit Loop” in an effort to protect its citizens.
I suppose my other option is to stop going out to these bars with my friends. But I shouldn’t have to. We shouldn’t be chased out of the one area we call “ours” because Milwaukee isn’t sending its Police cruisers far enough down Water Street.
We can’t seem to get marriage, at least give us drinking and dancing.