Homeless Man Says Shelter Threw Him Out Because He's Gay

Homeless Man Says Shelter Threw Him Out Because He's Gay
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

Posted: June 14, 2007 - 7:30 pm ET

(Denver, Colorado) a 34-year old homeless Fort Collins man says that he was told to leave a shelter because the pastor who runs it will not allow gay men to stay there.

John Garon tells the Coloradan newspaper that he had been staying at Open Door Mission for about three weeks when he was suddenly told by the director, the Rev. Richard Thebo, that he was no longer welcome.

"He said 'I don't allow homosexuals to use these facilities,'" Garon told the Coloradan. "I was blown away ... To be put out for something I can't change has profoundly impacted me."

Thebo does not deny he told Garon to leave. He said that Garon had "hit on" another man at the shelter and a fight ensued. He also told the paper that Garon would "flaunt his sexuality".

The pastor said that he will allow gays and lesbians to use the soup kitchen and shower at the shelter but not sleep there.

"I will not let them exert their sexuality here," he told the Coloradan. "Men have to sleep next to other men (in the shelter)."

According to Garon there had been a fight but he denies "hitting" on anyone. As for "flaunting" he says he made occasional passing comments about his former partner.

Garon said that he came to Fort Collins from Florida with the hope of attending graduate school at Colorado State University but fell on hard times.

Last month Gov. Bill Ritter signed into law legislation making it illegal to discriminate in the workplace on the basis of sexuality but the law does not cover accommodation.

"The new law is a step forward, Judy Calhoun the executive director of the LGBT Center in Denver told 365Gay.com. "But it needs to be expanded to cover accommodation as well."

The case is the second where a gay person has been denied room at a shelter.

A Chicago woman says she was denied access to a City-funded homeless shelter on a cold November evening because she is a lesbian.

With the help of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, Michelle Wang has filed a civil rights complaint with the City of Chicago Commission on Human Relations and the State of Illinois Department of Human Rights. (story)

Wang later discussed her case with 365Gay.com's Jennifer Vanesco in an exclusive interview. (story)


Richard Thebo

I was on staff during the time this "incident" took place and John Garon is not guilty of anything except being the object of "Reverend" Thebo's bigoted prejudices. It is SOP for the desk man not to allow homosexuals to stay overnight in the mission. There doesn't have to be any provocation on the part of the guests to get booted out for no reason whatsoever.

There needs to be a year-round shelter in Fort Collins for those in need that is not run by a fascist attitude. If you don't like the homeless and don't care what happens, then you need to find another business for yourself instead of abusing people that can't fight back. Thebo is nothing less than a tyrant and people should know this and demand he either change his attitude toward the homeless or terminate the operation of his "mission."