A recent graduate of a Louisiana university claims that members of his fraternity harassed and threatened him because he is gay.
Jonathan Hensley told the Washington Blade during a recent telephone interview that members of the Kappa Sigma chapter at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, La., began harassing him in the fall of 2014.
Hensley said several brothers used anti-gay slurs and profanities in messages they left on his voice mail last summer.
He posted them onto his Facebook page earlier this month.
“I was wondering if you could take time from your busy schedule of sucking dick so that you could possibly call me back,” said one message that was left on Hensley’s voice mail at 3:04 a.m. on June 30 with audible laughter in the background. “Just some business at Theta Rho. We’re getting rid of all assholes and cocksuckers from our fraternity. So if you could please respond so I could know how to get you the fuck out of my house, you faggot!”
Hensley said a member of the chapter’s executive committee left a message on his voice mail at 3:01 a.m. on June 30.
“Oh, hi there. This is Billy Idol’s twink son,” says the message. “I’m looking for a young gay man to be in a film that I’m producing. And I heard that you’re just the twink looking motherfucker that I need. Call me back.”
Hensley said someone called him at 2:34 p.m. on June 27 and said that if “you come back to Louisiana I’m going to kill you, you faggot.” He told the Blade that another member of the chapter’s executive committee left a message on his voice mail at 12:27 a.m. on June 26 in which he left his phone number and screamed “I fucking hate you.”
“This is Mason from the old Kappa Sigma house and I was just wondering why you blocked my phone number and me from Facebook,” said the committee member in another message he left on Hensley’s voice mail at 2:53 a.m. on June 30. “You know I’m just having fun and joke around with you but you have to be a little queer and block me from everything. So how about you unblock me so we can talk it out like you want too, like adults. So yeah, just call me back.”
Hensley said the executive committee member left another message on his voice mail at 8:26 p.m. on June 30 in which he said “I’m honestly not going to hurt you” and “I haven’t made any threats against you.”
Hensley said the same committee member left another message on his voice mail at 2:31 p.m. on July 1 in which he apologized for “being such an asshole.”
“I feel bad about it and I heard about what you did and you know you may be mad at me, but it’s not worth it, it’s not worth it — even if you’re mad at EC it’s not worth it because the whole chapter could go under and you could destroy my life,” said the committee member. “I know I was a real asshole, I was being really mean. But I’m sorry. I was really just joking. Please call me back so we can talk this out like adults. I’m being serious. I’m not going to be a child. I’m not going to be a dick.”
Hensley told the Blade the chapter president told him during a meeting to “keep quiet about” the harassment.
He said he contacted Kappa Sigma’s national office about the harassment and death threat. Hensley told the Blade that he also spoke with McNeese State Dean of Student Services Chris Thomas who dismissed his allegations.
“You’re up here on my radar,” said Thomas, according to Hensley. “You need to be down here. You need to get off my radar.”
Hensley earlier on Dec. 6 came out on Facebook. He graduated from McNeese State less than two weeks later.
‘Ongoing pattern of harassment and intimidation’
Hensley’s attorney, Donald Hodge, told the Blade on Tuesday during a telephone interview that he plans to file a lawsuit against Kappa Sigma and the university by the end of the year.
Hodge said the complaint will also name the organization that operates the local fraternity house as a defendant. Hensley also plans to file a complaint against the Kappa Sigma chapter that alleges it violated Title IX of the U.S. Education Amendments of 1972.
“There’s been an ongoing pattern of harassment and intimidation against my client by the fraternity directly related to his sexual orientation,” Hodge told the Blade.
Hodge also accused the university of “essentially” trying “to brush this matter under the rug.”
Candace Townsend, a spokesperson for McNeese State, confirmed to the Blade that Hensley filed complaints over the alleged harassment. She declined to comment further, citing “active investigations.”
McNeese State in its diversity statement says it does “not discriminate” with regard to sexual orientation and other factors “in admission to our employment or participation in its education programs, services and activities.” It also states the institution “will not tolerate discrimination of any type.”
Louisiana’s statewide anti-discrimination law does not include sexual orientation. McNeese State’s anti-bullying policy is also not explicitly gay-inclusive.
“McNeese State University explicitly prohibits discrimination and bullying of all forms and takes allegations of such behavior very seriously,” Townsend told the Blade.
Zachary Brabham, social media and public relations coordinator for Kappa Sigma’s national office, told the Blade that the fraternity “does not share details of private matters of individual discipline.” He said, however, that Hensley owes 18 months in back rent to the fraternity house’s landlord.
“We are not able to make any comment on this situation,” said Brabham.
Hensley denied the allegation, saying that he first heard about the back rent after he reported the harassment to the national organization and it began its investigation. He told the Blade that he almost became homeless because he moved out of the fraternity house over the mistreatment he said he suffered.
“I caused the chapter to become under investigation,” said Hensley. “They immediately jumped on me with this, in my belief, to try to tarnish my reputation.”
Tucker Barry of Equality Louisiana, a statewide LGBT advocacy group, said earlier this week during a telephone interview that the harassment against Hensley “took a very, very, very serious toll on him.” Barry also said McNeese State has a responsibility to ensure its students do not experience discrimination or mistreatment because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.