The publisher of abOUT magazine, which targets Houston's gay community, has accused the president of the GLBT Political Caucus of making threats against his safety.
So who are the players? The publisher is Michael Lance Williams, better known as Cade Michals. He pleaded no contest to sexual assault of a 13-year-old boy in 1997, when he was 17. The GLBT Caucus head is Noel Freeman. (Note: Williams did some work with the Houston Press's Street Team in 2005).
The fracas concerns an October 7 opinion piece the magazine ran about former State Rep. Ellen Cohen, whom the Caucus has endorsed in her run for Houston City Council. The piece, appearing under the byline "Jack H," accused Cohen of hypocrisy for accepting a $10,000 contribution from "ultra-conservative and anti-gay businessman" Bob Perry, of Perry Homes, in her final run for the state legislature. (The link includes an updated response from Cohen; the earlier print edition states that Cohen's office hadn't responded to questions by press time).
"How can a supposedly gay-friendly candidate accept money from a clearly anti-gay contributor?" Jack H. wrote. Hair Balls guesses it's for the same reason that abOUT runs online ads for Perry Homes.
Williams told Hair Balls that Freeman called him Monday night, displeased with the article, and told him, "I know where you live." (An HPD spokesperson confirmed that Williams did file a complaint Monday night.)
Freeman told Hair Balls that he didn't threaten Williams's safety; he just threatened to ask the magazine's advertisers to boycott, because the article was straight-up "yellow journalism."
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Williams told us that Freeman called him three days after the issue hit the stands, accusing Williams of running a "smear campaign" against the Caucus, and that he asked for a retraction. But, because "there was nothing false [or] misleading in any way," he didn't think a retraction was warranted. He also accused Freeman of pilfering all the magazine issues from one merchant's racks.
Freeman denied that, and told us that, Monday night, he just called Williams to say, "What we're prepared to do -- how this is going to work on our end -- is we're going to contact all of your advertisers and urge [them] to drop their ads....I was very matter-of-fact about it."
In case you're wondering about the sex-offender bit, Williams told us that the incident stemmed from a consensual relationship he had when he was 16 and the complainant was 14. He says the boy's mother caught them together and waited a few months before filing a complaint, by which time Williams turned 17 and could be prosecuted as an adult. (The Texas Department of Public Safety registry states the victim was 13.)
An HPD spokesman told us that the complaint will be assigned to an investigator. We'll keep you posted.