MGM'S LAS VEGAS HOMOPHOBIA
Story By: Gerald McCullouch - Star Of CSI Las Vegas
The following was written by CSI star Gerald McCullouch. Gerald will be guest starring with Cyndi Lauper on Bones for their 150th episode on Monday. Be sure to tune in!
I’ve never been one to hold a grudge. Ain’t my style. It gives the person or thing you have a grudge against too much power. And you willingly give your happiness away, freely, to the person or thing which least deserves it. It’s been a lifelong goal of mine to be happy and it’s something I work diligently towards, so I do all I can to not give it away to Road-Ragers or outsourced customer care representatives. Or, more appropriately, casino security guards whose homophobia is enshrined in Nevada State Law.
For 10 seasons I played “Bobby Dawson” on CSI. As CSI is set in Las Vegas, I’ve spent some incredible times in that city. My recent trip began very similarly. My boyfriend and I were given the star treatment at Tao, hit a red carpet opening of a new Las Vegas bar, casino hopped gambling and drinking our way up the strip, and then headed back to Mandalay Bay and The Four Seasons at a rather reasonable time for Las Vegas standards. Paul, my boyfriend, was up about $100 and I was down about the same amount, repeatedly, so affectionate playfulness infiltrated our evening.
As our taxi arrived at our destination our playfulness continued as we hopped out of the taxi and headed to our Four Seasons Suite. Following a few attempts at giving each other flat tires and good, old-school Charlie Horses, we were suddenly approached by three Mandalay Bay Security Guards who, supposedly, took an interest in making sure our rough housing was in fun and not a possible escalation into conflict. I confirmed with Robert Lake, head security officer at Mandalay Bay, that all was fine. That Paul and I were boyfriends. That we were celebrating our anniversary. That we had just arrived that day from LA and were flying back to LA in the afternoon. And that we were simply on our way to our hotel room after our night out.
In an instant, Paul and I were gripped at our triceps and pulled away from each other. We were told that if we were boyfriends, then our actions were regarded as Domestic Violence. We were assertively escorted away from the entrance of the Four Seasons and through the Mandalay Bay Casino.
Paul and I were both frozen with disbelief. I stated multiple times that there was no need for concern, that Paul and I weren’t engaged in any sort of conflict, that we fly back to LA in the afternoon and want to get back to our room to get some sleep. With each affirmation of our relationship the tension seemed to build between us and the three security guards escorting us through the casino and it’s back hallways towards the main security office and holding area.
We were kept separate from each other. I was given no further explanation of what was happening. Approximately two hours later, a Las Vegas Police Officer arrived and arrested both Paul and I for domestic violence.
Paul asked why we were charged with domestic violence if we were obviously just roughhousing and there was no harm intended. To which the officer asked him if Paul and I engaged in certain sexual activities. Paul declined to be as specific as the officer but agreed that he and I were in a sexual relationship.
“Then if you have sex with each other it’s Domestic Violence”
No Miranda Rights were read. One of the guards rapidly read us a diatribe about being guilty of trespassing and no longer allowed in any of the MGM Casinos. The MGM Casinos include all of Las Vegas practically: Aria, Bellagio, Vdara, MGM Grand, Madalay Bay, The Mirage, Mote Carlo, Luxor, New York New York, Excalibur, and Circus Circus, namely.
I’ve never been arrested. Nor has Paul. So we had no idea what we were in store for. And I’m certain that experiencing it in Las Vegas is rather epitome-adjacent.
Over the next 16 hours I trudged amongst the arrested mob from holding area to booking area where personal items and cell phones and layers of clothing were taken, to another holding area where cursory health exams were given – both mental and physical - and statements were taken, to long term holding cells – very long term - to a payment cubicle where I posted my bail of $3,500, to a holding cell for those about to be released, to being released into the streets of downtown Las Vegas. As Paul and I were charged with Domestic Violence we were kept separate and he was released about two hours after me so his journey was 18 hours. Happy anniversary.
During my 16 hours in jail I learned that, by Nevada State law, all Domestic Violence complaints result in arrest. And a mandatory jail stay of at least 12 hours. No questions asked. So once Robert Lake and the other security guards knowingly decided to label Paul’s and my actions as Domestic Violence they were all very aware that neither Paul nor I would be returning to our hotel room or be able to make our flight back to LA or have much ability to enjoy our anniversary any further.
We hired an attorney and over the next few months learned that similar situations happen all the time in Vegas. I told our lawyer that I was currently writing a column for The Advocate.com and had every intention of writing an Op-Ed on the experience. He urged me to do so - saying that there is a major gap in the Nevada State Law intended to protect civilians who are under harm and Las Vegas Security Guards’ ability to label any actions they are uncomfortable with as ‘Domestic Violence’ to ensure a jail stay for those they charge with that offense.
Before our court dates and the writing of this Op-Ed, I contacted MGM to attempt to remedy the situation. To tell them of the incident.
When I spoke with Yvette Monet in Public Affairs, she first inquired if Paul and I were still together. I said we were. To which she retorted “Well, then, it wasn’t all that bad, was it?” She stated that MGM invests regularly in gay advertising and has been honored with multiple awards for their support of LGBT causes. She apologized for the incident but said that due to the size of the corporation, any action would have to come from the security department and she didn’t think that likely as they will inevitably stand by their actions. And she was certain those actions must have been justified. She ensured a follow up phone call in the next few days. The follow up phone call never came.
Due to lack of evidence, Paul’s and my hearing was rescheduled. Twice. Eventually all chargers were dropped. There was no evidence on any of the myriad of surveillance cameras permeating the casino entrance of Paul and I in any conflict. No one we met during our evening – the amazing Tao management team who gave us the red carpet treatment, the owners of the new gay bar, Share, and all those that attended the opening, blackjack dealers, fellow befriended gamblers, bartenders – no one – ever observed anything other than respect and compassion between Paul and I. There was only the domestic violence charge itself from Robert Lake. The case was dismissed.
I write this not to retaliate, but to educate. To bring to light that sadly, in a city with which I have developed such a unique bond and a seemingly supportive corporation in which I have spent thousands of dollars staying at practically all of their properties in Las Vegas - it’s a big ole’ buzz kill that I have to temper my affections with the man I love while in their dominion. And when it comes to respecting my personal liberties and rights as well as those of my boyfriend and of every member of the LGBT community, we are only a dollar sign to them. Nothing more. And after they have our dollars in their possession, there’s not much respect for us after that. How uniquely Las Vegas.
Editors Note: This incident happened last year and was just settled recently, with charges being dropped because of no evidence against Gerald McCullouch. MGM Grand Cooperation had no videos to back up their claims, yet they allowed their security to prosecute a loyal customer and a TV star to boot. Seems to us here, that Gerald is right saying all they care about is the gay money and not the gay customer. I would contact the MGM publicists, but even after all the stories we have done to promote their properties, I am sure there would be no comment. But we will send it to them anyway, and print their version if there is one. It would seem safer for the gay customer to stay away from MGM Casinos.
Photo Courtesy Of: Jake Fales