Gay teen's appearance provoked attack, attorney says

BY admin

August 29 2003 11:00 PM ET

The victim of an alleged stalking incident says he's leaving Wyoming to pursue a modeling career. Jimmy Bryan, 18, told the Worland Northern Wyoming Daily News that he has a modeling contract in Denver, where his boyfriend lives and works. He did not plan to return except to see his mother and some friends.

Bryan is the alleged victim of Michael Grissom, 18, of Thermopolis, Wyo., who was charged this week with stalking for allegedly yelling threats and obscenities at Bryan on May 1, including the statement "Wish it wasn't illegal to kill fags out of innocent fun," according to court documents.

Bryan was hesitant to talk about specifics of the case but did say it was not the first time Grissom had harassed him. "I dropped out of high school as a sophomore, mainly because of harassment,"
Bryan said. "In school [I was] pushed against lockers, and [someone] tried to shove me down stairs. Every incident was reported to the school principal. The school didn't do [anything] about it."

In court papers defense attorney Louis Walrath asserted that Bryan's appearance and behavior may have provoked Grissom. Walrath noted that Bryan "has been seen walking down the street in short shorts, high heels, and carrying a purse. Apparently he wears feminine attire on occasions, and of course this really upsets young heterosexual males, probably some females also. To some extent, I am afraid, the victim invites these kinds of remarks by his outrageous behavior and dress."

Bryan said he was only dressing up in the shorts and high heels for Halloween and that his appearance and behavior are irrelevant. "I'm somewhat flamboyant and open about my sexuality," he said. "I have a gay pride flag in my car, and when I walk there is a bit of swagger in my hips. But I don't introduce myself as 'Hi, I'm Jimmy, and I'm gay.' My world doesn't revolve around being gay.

"People need to accept there are gay people in the world, even in small towns, and they can't be treated unfairly," Bryan said.

A trial was scheduled for September 26. Grissom faces up to six months in prison and a $750 fine if convicted of the misdemeanor. Wyoming has no hate-crimes law.

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