by AmyJo Brown
Members of Pittsburgh's LGBT community are planning to rally at 3 p.m. Sunday near the South Side bar Rizzo's Margaritaville, at 2200 E. Carson St., in response to an attack last week against a woman who identifies as a "stud" — women who present as men.
JourDyn Cartel, 25, says she was with about a dozen friends at the bar at around 1:30 a.m. Jan. 17, when an unknown man who had expressed uneasiness with her and another in her group who identified as a stud, confronted her and then punched her in the face with a closed fist.
A member of Cartel's group went to her defense, and more people got involved. A few tossed beer bottles, according to witnesses. After the bar's security responded by closing the bar and evicting all the patrons, the original aggressor and at least one other man attacked Cartel and her friends again on the sidewalk.
Cartel suffered a broken nose and a fractured eye socket and was treated at a nearby hospital the next day, she says. At least one other in the group suffered minor injuries and an employee of the bar was also injured but not hospitalized, according to Brad Rizzo, the bar's manager, according to PLCB records.
Pittsburgh Police are investigating the incident and plan to have a presence at the rally, according to Bureau Spokeswoman Diane Richard.
Sunday's rally is intended to bring awareness to both the attack and the bar's lack of assistance in diffusing the situation, organizers say.
"These were straight guys beating up gay people," Cartel says.
Tonyarae Berry, 31, a self-identified stud who was with Cartel that evening says the unknown men were clearly uncomfortable with her and Cartel, although there was no warning that it would escalate. She says one of the men took offense each time she or Cartel came near him, telling them not to touch him. Other members of their party were able to pass the men without a confrontation.
"We weren't bothering anybody. It's not like we were hitting on the girls they were with or anything," says Berry, who says she was the designated driver that night. "The whole incident was unwarranted. I don't feel like there was a reason."
Twenty-nine-year-old Fausta Andrade, who was also there that evening, says Sunday's rally is intended to show support for Cartel and raise awareness of the incident.
"This is something that is still a problem in the community. People are homophobic and angry. It took me for a shock," she says.
Rizzo says the fight in the bar was unfortunate, and that he believes he knows who the aggressors were. He's says he's tried to reach out to those organizing the rally, but has not talked to them yet.
"I do believe I have some information that may help. But no one has returned my calls," he says.
He says he has taken steps to prevent future incidents, adding extra security and prohibiting beer bottles. Alcohol will be served only in plastic cups now, he says.
"I just hope everyone is OK," Rizzo says.