Saturday, April 5, was drag night at Garlow's, Gun Barrel City's one and only gay bar. It also happened to be the night when a half dozen or so of Gun Barrel City's finest showed up in the parking lot and began pulling over departing patrons for failing to use their turn signals.
"Basically, all that was was a fishing trip to see who's been drinking and who hasn't," bar owner Michael Slingerland tells Unfair Park, saying the bust was the culmination of a couple of months of a lighter police presence.
Gun Barrel City Police Chief Damon Boswell has not returned a call seeking comment, but Lone Star Q reports that four drivers were arrested for driving while intoxicated.
Slingerland himself, who says he'd "had some beers" but wasn't staggering or visibly drunk, opted to walk the quarter-mile to his house. Police arrested him anyway, for public intoxication. He was released from jail the next morning after paying a $352 fine.
None of Gun Barrel City's four other bars have been similarly targeted, according to former Dallas Voice reporter David Webb, therefore Garlow's must have been targeted because it's a gay bar, right?
Not so, Slingerland says. Gun Barrel City has had a gay bar for 22 years without incident. Garlow's is an established part of the community. Slingerland and Mayor Paul Eaton are close friends; he even donated $1,000 to his election campaign.
Nope, Garlow's was targeted because "we're the number one bar. We attract everybody."
That doesn't make the arrests any more palatable to Slingerland, who explained his feelings in a meeting with Boswell last week: "That's fishing motherfucker. You can't do that shit."
Judging by the absence of police cars over the weekend and Eaton's apologetic comments to Webb, the message got through.
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.