Pride and prejudice

Will and James were simply on their way to lunch.

The couple had just gotten on Interstate 80 West at Vista Boulevard. Enjoying the August warmth, they had the sunroof open. Enjoying each other’s company, they each rested a hand on the other’s leg, as many couples are apt to do.

A man driving next to them in a blue truck looked down and saw Will and James. He didn’t like what he saw, and he let Will and James know it.

“He yelled, ‘You fucking faggots!’ “ Will says. “He kept trying to cut us off and was screaming at us to follow him off at the next exit so he could kick our asses.”

Of course, Will and James kept going. Soon after, the angry man hurled a can of Diet Dr. Pepper at the couple. Although he missed them, he hit the trunk of their car, causing an ugly scratch and splattering soda all over the place.

At this point, both men grabbed their cell phones and dialed 911. Will got through first and told the dispatcher about the situation. This scared off the truck driver, who passed Will and James and exited at Rock Boulevard. As he passed, James wrote down the license plate number.

They were eating lunch when the Nevada Highway Patrol called to say they had located the guy—and, after searching the freeway, the Diet Dr. Pepper can. Will says charges are being pressed against this homophobic road rager.

Many of the people in attendance at this year’s Reno Gay Pride festivities (a schedule and information can be found starting on page 19, by the way) will have stories that sound similar to the frightening incident that happened to Will and James. Drunken hecklers picking on them and challenging them to fights. Public officials referring to them as “faggots.” Irate pizza parlor managers telling them to leave for no reason whatsoever other than the fact that they happen to “look” gay.

It’s a reminder that despite all the declarations from public officials, not everyone is accepting or even tolerant of homosexuals. Even though the number of protesters at Gay Pride events is small or even nonexistent, many people out there still think gays and lesbians are defects. And it’s important to remember that 70 percent of the voters in this state (and more than 63 percent of the voters in Washoe County) voted for Question 2 to “protect marriage,” even though the ballot measure was unnecessary and hateful by any standard.

This weekend is a celebration, and justifiably so. But everybody should remember that there’s still a lot of work to be done. After all, the next time somebody goes crazy, the outcome could be much, much worse than what happened to Will and James.

On a completely unrelated note, ever since the publication of our Fiction 101 contest results, I have been bombarded with e-mails from people wanting to know why their entries weren’t published.

Here’s how the judging went: Each of the four judges read the entries and made a list of 20 favorites. A story that was at the top of the list would get 20 points; No. 2 got 19, and that continued until No. 20 got one point. We then tallied the points and determined the winners.

There were a total of 53 stories that made at least one of the Top 20 lists. We eliminated two of those because they were over 101 words (one of which, as we mentioned, would have been the winner). That gave us 51 stories. We had room for 38 in the paper; the other 13 were posted at The other entries—the vast majority of them, that is—went unpublished.

And as for the people wanting to know who wrote the 103-word story that would have won except for those two words … if you’re afraid it might have been you, count the words in your entries. You have reason to be worried only if the total is 103.