During the Spring of 2005, Lily took one of the biggest risks that she had ever taken to date, and Jim and I personally spoke to her about the matter to explain exactly what kind of risk this was.
The risk in question happened like this: some people wanted to start a support group for the local gay and lesbian youth. Being pocketed in an area where homophobia is not only prevalent but often encouraged, hosting the weekly meeting could have easily made ReWired the target of violence. Jim and I were adamant in pointing that out to Lily, but Lily pushed forward.
The support group started out great- a large number of people of all sexual orientations would come, people would discuss things about themselves, their lives, their experiences in the world, and we would all try to become better human beings.
But then very quickly, the support group devolved into the leader’s personal political agenda and became about him. This upset the vast majority of people in the group, who in turn simply stopped attending, and the group dissolved not long after that.
The financial struggles of ReWired continued, and the nastiness of the neighbors on either side of the coffee house continued as well. At one point during the summer, Lily had bands playing on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, so our Open Mic night was done on Thursday night prior to the first band.
The tactic used was fairly simple: someone would call the local police with a noise complaint. Multiple times in the same night. The initial reaction of the police was one of puzzlement: they would arrive and not understand why they were called, because nothing would be out of the ordinary.
But eventually, the calls became so profuse that it’s likely some of the officers became irritated with it, and then the allegations of drug use came about, and so an investigation against ReWired was launched, causing a patrol car to come through almost hourly to check out the parking lot and the coffee house.
The youth tended to be all over the parking lot. Eventually, a rule was made that, while at Wired, one had to be in one of three places: in front of the building where the tables were, behind the building against the wall, or inside the building.
The constant presence of the police scared away many of the youth, and frankly, I don’t blame them; who wants to be constantly under surveillance, most especially if one isn’t doing anything wrong?
Part of me wants to stand up at this point and tell people a little something about noise: I’m a typically reserved and quiet person, and if anyone in Alabama has a right to complain about “noise,” I and I alone reserve that right. The very idea that the people complained as much as they did about noise strikes me as laughable.
Then came the news article in the Dothan Eagle.
The article gave the perspectives of Lily, Pat, and the manager of the grocery store (which we were still supporting.)
Also, there’s a small saying that apparently Alabama is unfamiliar with: there’s no such thing as bad publicity, because a number of people showed up to the coffee house after reading the article about how awful and terrible and demonic ReWired was. Those people patently said the article was unfounded.
In response to said article, I wrote a Letter to the Editor, which incidentally wasn’t published until the police investigation was finished. My Aunt Katharine phoned Gigi that morning to tell her that I had been published in the newspaper.
But here is where I’ll give the Dothan Eagle the benefit of the doubt, in that perhaps they receive numerous Letters to be published, and perhaps it was only incidental that the police investigation ended and my letter was published.
However, I don’t appreciate it when people pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining.
The racism aspect of things likely played against Lily as well, what with her Turkish origins and accent. Ed the Wizard also gave us his sage advice: the city just didn’t like any place where the youth could gather.
Stay tuned for the next chapter.