Friends of Lesbian Teen Gave Her Six Months to Go Straight Before Attacking Her

CHEYENNE WILLIAMS:
A little more (vague and unsubstantiated) information has surfaced regarding the strange and disturbing story of Cheyenne Williams’ three “friends” who attempted to push her off a cliff as part of either a “prank” or a hate crime. Queerty and the Kentucky Equality Federation say that the three friends had made a secret pact giving Cheyenne six months to “turn straight or else” — no word on where that information might have come from.

The Kentucky Equality Federation, which is now speaking exclusively on Cheyenne’s behalf and uses apostrophes to pluralize “Video” and “Picture” on its website, which may or may not be driving me insane, released the following, reports Lez Get Real:

… Corinne Schwab and Ashley Sams, both 18 and a 17-year-old girl — not named because she is a minor — told the victim they had given her six months to change her sexual orientation. According to KEF, the assailants made this pact between themselves and the Williams was never made aware of this until the day of the assault.

Williams was taken to Flat Lick Falls, a remote area about 60 mile southeast of Lexington, Ky, on the pretext they were taking her to a job interview last Friday afternoon, where they beat, and choked her and then attempted to push Williams off a 50-foot cliff.

Williams allegedly broke free by fending her attackers off with a stick.

However during the struggle a large rock was thrown at her by the attackers, and in trying to dodge it, she fell back on several large rocks injuring her back. The attackers eventually took Williams to a nearby restaurant and dropped her off, warning her not to say anything.

The Kentucky State police issued a news release Tuesday that says Williams was “taken against her will to the Flat Lick Falls area” where she was assaulted and that the other three girls “attempted to push her over a cliff, which could have resulted in serious physical injury or death.”

State Police Detective Joie Peters said, all the girls have been friends since sixth grade and school officials say that there has never seemingly been a problem between them. One of the alleged attackers roomed with Williams on a senior trip to Key West, Fla., and the Bahamas three weeks ago.

But Towleroad is reporting via the Lexington Herald-Leader that the whole thing “was a “staged incident” in which Williams was a willing participant”, or so claim the classmates’ lawyers:

“Attorneys for Ashley Sams and Corinne Schwab, both 18, said the teens committed no crime. There are some ‘distinct falsehoods’ in what the alleged victim, Cheyenne Williams, has told authorities, said James Baechtold, Schwab’s attorney.”

The lawyers also asked for a preliminary hearing this Thursday, so the truth — whatever that may be — could come to light then.

Hate crimes on GLBT teens and bullying of GLBT teens is nothing new — but parents & children standing up against these acts is relatively new, and each new detail is shocking and confusing. And what these avalanches of personal drama remind us of, for both Constance McMillen and Cheyenne Williams, is how fucking bizarre high school was and how nothing made sense. What the fuck, youth of America? What the frickin’ frack is wrong with you people? You don’t throw your friends off cliffs or host secret proms, you should be riding horses or watching scary movies or something.

In related news, it turns out that a few years ago a student at Cheyenne’s high school was caught bringing a gun to school, apparently with the intention of shooting a lesbian classmate. (@queerty)

EDMONTON HATE CRIME:
Let’s just get all of the violence against queers out of the way now: a lesbian in Edmonton was attacked by a group of young boys and sustained serious injuries. “Shannon Barry was kicked in the face after a group of young men allegedly taunted her with homophobic slurs. The blow broke Barry’s jaw and the bone below her eye socket: she underwent reconstructive surgery earlier this week. Doctors put two metal plates in her face and told her she may have permanent nerve damage.” The boy who’s been taken into custody for the injuries to Barry’s face is only 14. (@montrealgazette)

GAY JUDGE:
In all the brouhaha over whether or not a nominee to the Supreme Court may or may not be a closeted gay, it would be a shame to overlook the openly gay man, Edward DuMont, Obama has just nominated to a federal appeals court judgeship.(@keennewsservice)

BI INVISIBILITY:
In kind of a surprising turn of events, a politician is not only open about not being straight, but open about the fact that he’s bisexual. Less surprisingly, he is not being taken seriously. Gregg Kravitz’s opponent for the Democratic primary for the 182nd state House district of Pennsylvania claims that Kravitz is actually straight, and just pretending in order to win the LGBT vote. “Kravitz denies he’s been lying about his bisexuality, saying Josephs’ attacks will make it more difficult for “members of the LGBT community to be comfortable with themselves.” Um, yes. (@allgov)

BOY SCOUTS:
A former Scout with fond memories of his years in the troop talks about the current abuse scandal within the organization, and why the Boy Scouts of America should allow openly gay members. (@nytimes)

GAY DOLLAR/PINK POUND:
A fascinating article at the Guardian examines how while recognition of the power of gay spending is on the rise, the rights we’re slowly gaining that allow us to have shared households and families may be changing our spending habits. Since for a long time it was assumed gays didn’t have dependents or mouths to feed, they were a population with a lot of disposable income, and at least theoretically should have been attractive to advertisers. Now that families aren’t out of reach for us, though, is our money going to be taken even less seriously than it is now because we’re buying diapers instead of designer clothes? “All my wardrobe was designer: McQueen, Dior, D&G …” And now? “Raising children is more expensive than we expected,” says Rob. “We need to economise a lot. Gay couples probably have higher standards on the items they buy for their children in terms of quality and design.” (@guardian)

PETITION:
The Supreme Court is finally going to hear the case of whether it’s legal to release the names on the Referendum 71 petition in Washington. “The Supreme Court, which hears arguments in the case on Wednesday, is expected to decide whether disclosing the names would violate the signers’ First Amendment rights. If the court rules it does, that would likely keep private not only Referendum 71 petitions but all referendum and initiative petitions in this state — and potentially those in two dozen other states that allow citizens to put measures on the ballot. (@seattletimes)

Rachel is Autostraddle's Managing Editor and the editor who presides over news & politics coverage. Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

Rachel has written 1113 articles for us.

30 Comments

  1. that shit in Edmonton is crazy. people have formed a facebook group to organize a community response to her attack. i also continue to be blown away by the Cheyenne Williams story. I hope she’s getting an outpouring of support, and that her attackers get more than a slap on their evil, bony little wrists.

  2. Guardian commenter “fflump” puts it so well:
    ‘I’m not surprised “Francis” wants to stay anonymous. Not only does he seem to confuse “higher standards” with “being a sad label freak”, he seems intent on indulging in the kind of sexual-orientation stereotyping that a heterosexual man would not get within a hundred miles of a Guardian article.’

    what a completely abnoxious beat-up.

  3. In my boredom, I watched a show on NBC last night called “What Were You Thinking” where they did a bunch of social experiments to explain why people don’t listen to their instincts and follow the crowd in certain situations. It was actually fascinating to see that a person in a room full of people they didn’t know would not exit the room if no one else seemed concerned WHEN THE ROOM STARTED FILLING WITH SMOKE. You think you would do one thing, but you never know. A ridiculously huge percentage of people stayed in the room cuz they trusted the others when they weren’t leaving or panicking.

    MY POINT IS that if you think about sociology and the way people act in crowds vs alone (mob mentality), you can get a lot of answers to why kids are being so goddamn scary with the bullying. It IN NO WAY EXCUSES EACH INDIVIDUAL, but it shows just how scary it can be for one or two lgbt students in a school of hundreds. The kids will do things they may never do if it weren’t for the other kids leading. AGAIN, I’M NOT EXCUSING ANYONE FOR ANYTHING AT ALL, but it’s quite interesting to study kids who have never done anything criminally wrong, and then they allegedly try to kill a friend. It just takes one person to lead, and the rest will make terrible decisions to follow, just to fit in. The prom. The cliff. Everyone must be held accountable for their actions, no matter what reason they give for doing something, so we need to not only teach tolerance, but also nonconformity. Our kids need to know that just because their friends do something, it doesn’t mean they have to.

    How do we get that across successfully, though?

    • My high school had a curriculum whose goals were said (by teachers) to include independent thinking, so I guess there are pedagogical theories out there for this very purpose. Personally I was a little suspicious of the idea that I could be taught not to conform. It seems at the very least antithetical to how schools typically work.
      On the other hand i guess there must be environmental factors determining whether someone turns into a sheep or not. So maybe there was something to it. Look into it America!
      P.S. On the third hand this entire issue could be circumvented if we could just turn all the kids gay like the conservatives have been suggesting all along.

      • “On the third hand this entire issue could be circumvented if we could just turn all the kids gay like the conservatives have been suggesting all along.”

        this had better get a comment award

      • yes! terrifying! And poor kitty, learned all about her in freshman year ethics. It really happens all the time though, we hear people being hurt and we assume someone else is helping (kitty’s “bystander effect”) or we see others doing terrible things to someone and something in us tells us to do it too. cray-cray

    • What you saw on TV sounds like the classic psychology experiments of Milgram and Asch. But to your broader point, it’s not conformity itself we’re opposing here but conformity that leads to destructive or violent behavior among specific peer groups. What we need is some conformity among teachers and parents on fostering an environment of tolerance and respect, where perceived threats can be safely reported and escalated to proper authorities/acted upon before a situation gets out of hand. If an incident of abuse or bullying does occur, students should feel confident to come forward and know that they’ll be taken seriously. Consequences should be rendered where appropriate and harsh ones at that. Just as schools have a zero tolerance policy on fighting, so should be the case for bullying. Get it in writing, get parents’ and students’ signatures on it before classes begin, and get out in front of the problem. The time for reactive solutions is over, especially now with many of kids’ activities these days hidden from view (from a lot parents/teachers at least) with the Internet and cell phones. In short, everyone needs to be accountable to each other. Parents need to really parent and know where their kids are/what they’re doing, teachers need to teach foremostly (they can’t replace parents) but not turn a blind eye to bullying, and kids need to use some common sense and maybe place less value on trying to fit in all the time and do the right thing for once.

      • No, you are absolutely right, it can go both ways and be bad or good, the way people react in groups. The thing is, I think the kid’s views would be easier to change. The parents are the ones, IMO, that are lacking and to blame. Look at that girl with the black eye and plates in her face–and you’re telling me that a 14 year old boy hates a lesbian for a reason he came up with on his own?

        That was most likely taught to him by someone, and if it wasn’t his own parents, it was some other kid, and they prob got it from their parents.

        Parents hate to think their kids do anything wrong. If their kid went around picking on a child with a disability, they might see that as wrong and tell them to stop and punish them, Right now, gays are not people that the majority feel are deserving of rights to begin with, so picking on them is not the worst thing to parents. For all we know, the parents who have taught the hate prob think the kids were asking for it just being out.

  4. Fucking hell, that lady is very lucky to be alive, theres a case in the UK at the moment where a similar thing happened to a gay man and he died. I was in such a good mood because I just watched this new documentary called Growing up Gay in Ireland and it was really encouraging…and then I read this, it’s such an eye opener. I mean, just when you think the world is making progress stuff like this happens, what can even be done to help reduce things like this? I for one, have no idea.

  5. I hate to play the gender card, but that Edmonton story is such a disgusting disgrace. I know girls are fully capable of defending themselves, but the fact that a group of men battered some woman, gay or not, on the streets of Edmonton is just so wrong.

    And the Cheyenne Williams story? My god!

    WHAT IS WRONG WITH EVERYONE???!!!

  6. Saddest Daily Fix ever. What happened to that thing I read once about the Youth of America becoming gradually more open-minded and respectful of their peers’ differences?

    Aside from the super frightening and totally awful and heartbreaking Edmonton and Cheyenne Williams stories, the bit about Gregg Kravitz is super disheartening. Nothin’ like news of the ol’ BISEXUALITY DOESN’T EXIST Y’ALL ARE JUST FAKING IT sentiment to start off the week. It’s sad because Kravitz does have the opportunity and the will to be a force for LGBTQ constituents and is also an out politician, which should be great for visibility, but instead it’s becoming the opposite of those things.

    Anyone else need a hug? Or a stiff drink?

  7. Horrifying.

    It scares me that there are people out there who would do this; who can even begin to think that it’s okay to do this. And it makes me incredibly grateful for my friends and my family, but also makes me nervous about going to university in a few months, away from the safety of people who care, and who stand up for each other. Because I think that maybe my beautiful luck with my friends has made me a little naive of all the hate that exists out there.

  8. Truly a terrible incident. It’s scary and tragic to think that people in this world can have so much hate in their hearts and moreover, that their own insecurities and shortcomings cause them to treat others so unjustly.,..but something to point out to everyone on this site, INCLUDING the writers, reporters, readers and bloggers…when you judge others in your blog posts, and leave cruel, insulting, judgmental and detrimental comments (often about people and celebrities you know NOTHING about) you are NO better than the perpetrators in this case. your behavior is just a step away from the physical abuse displayed by these teens. consider it before mouthing off with your nasty remarks.

  9. In this article? nothing. take a peak at the other stories you report on…many of them are laden in negativity, judgment…in fact, many lesbians are made fun by your staff…especially in articles that report on entertainment and TV. it’s sad that writers, in positions of power (who have an audience they reach thru their words) don’t act more responsibly.

  10. yes, good to know that what the ‘voice’ of this site is. now I can go elsewhere for actual respectable journalism. i think the staff on ‘your site’ should take a second and look in the mirror. wonder how much you all like what you see before you go off and rip into other people.

    my last words before I go…consider what damage your “snark” may do to an individual before you hit the ‘submit’ button. consider how far that behavior is from that displayed by the teens in the article above.

    • I’m still confused, though would be interested to know what you are referring to, specifically, so it could be addressed. Also, very few of us purport to be respectable and we’re not a ‘straight’ news site in the sense that our news is usually offered up with some degree of humor and opinion, unlike something like say the Associated Press. Again, the often tongue-in-cheek tone might just feel wrong to you, it doesn’t jive with everyone. And I am fairly certain my snark, speaking for myself (though I’d venture to say this applies to all of our writers), is not mean-spirited or carelessly damaging in nature.

    • I’m genuinely curious as to what you see when you look in the mirror?

      To quote you..”It’s scary and tragic to think that people in this world can have so much hate in their hearts and moreover that their own insecurities and shortcomings cause them to treat others so injustly..”

      I feel this is exactly what you have just done to this site. How can you make that statement and then have the audacity to criticise the writers and readers etc?

      I understand how people read things differently, and just in case you weren’t sure, this was written with an irate tone, ignited purely by your irrational comment.

  11. Pingback: Attempted Murder of Lesbian Teen Labeled ‘Juvenile Prank’ : GlobalShift

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