By Erin Rook, PQ Monthly
Salathiel Laroy Dale, 26, was arraigned on charges of domestic violence homicide July 8 in connection with the July 4 stabbing death of his boyfriend, 33-year-old Duane Bailey.
Police responded to a call about a disturbance in the 400 block of NE Going Street at 9:12 p.m. and found Bailey with stab wounds. He died at the hospital less than an hour later. Dale, also known by the drag name Latte Minaj, was arrested not far from the scene in the 4700 block of NE Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard at 9:40 p.m.
While what exactly happened that night remains unclear, Dale’s friends say physical altercations between the two men were not uncommon.
“It went back and forth between two intense personalities,” says a childhood friend of Dale’s who did not wish to be identified. “[Violence] seemed like how they both dealt with conflict.”
Montrell Cotton, 25, who has been Dale’s best friend of 12 years and was close with Bailey for two, says the young performer was being physically abused by Bailey and had tried on multiple occasions to leave him. But Bailey had “a way with words” and Dale always went back.
The abuse had been going on for nearly as long as the relationship, according to Cotton, who recalls the first time Dale told Bailey he was leaving and wound up with a bloody nose.
“I was aware from the very beginning that my best friend was being abused. It started about a year and a half ago,” Cotton says.
Early on, Dale tried to defend himself by restraining Bailey and protecting his face, Cotton says, but Duane was “10 times stronger” than Dale (and about six inches taller). Eventually, Dale started threatening to call the police. But rather than report the abuse, Cotton says he only called when Bailey refused to return his car.
“He was too ashamed,” Cotton says. “For him to admit about being abused to others would only cause harsh judgment due to the fact that people looked up to him as a strong person.”
On the day of the stabbing, Cotton had planned to meet up with Dale at CC Slaughters. They texted on and off throughout the day, until about 7:30 p.m., and nothing seemed awry. If Dale and Bailey had been fighting, he says, he would have known.
“I was telling him he needed to find his jean jacket cause I had bought one that day and wanted us to wear them,” Cotton says. “We had a thing for trying to match when we go out.”
It wasn’t until Cotton returned a missed call from around 8 p.m. — and reached Dale’s mother — that he realized something was very wrong. He immediately left the family gathering he was attending and drove across town to his friend’s house, where he was greeted by a gloomy and confusing scene.
“I loved Duane as if he were my real brother. He had his issues but I’ve never been the type to judge,” Cotton says. “I’m struck both ways — the loss of his life and the possibility of never seeing my best friend ever again .”
He is still processing what happened. He says he doesn’t know what to think, but he’s emphatically certain of one thing: Dale must have been acting in self-defense. Despite the position he believes Bailey put Dale in, Cotton says he doesn’t blame him.
“I want to [blame him],” Cotton says. “I just don’t know how I feel. I’ve prayed a lot about it.”
Since Dale’s arrest, Cotton has talked to him daily on the phone or in person and is coordinating support with Dale’s family.
Dale’s childhood friend also finds it difficult to believe the stabbing was a premeditated act. Though he admits that Dale had his struggles, he describes him as a “cool, sweet, loyal, [and] loving guy.”
“To me it seems like it would have to be a pretty extreme situation,” he says. “I feel in my heart of hearts it was an accident or a moment of intense rage or fear.”
But one fellow performer, who also asked not to be identified, describes Dale as an angry man prone to violent outbursts.
“He was a good queen and performer but [a] crazy negative individual,” the performer says. “When we heard of the murder, many of us were not surprised because of his actions we have seen.”
Both the friend and the fellow performer had met Bailey on occasion, but neither knew him well and couldn’t speak to the dynamics in their relationship.
Regardless of the specific circumstances that led to Bailey’s death, his murder is a reminder that LGBTQ people experience domestic violence, sometimes with fatal consequences. Most sources estimate that 25 to 33 percent of LGBTQ people are survivors.
Although Portland-based domestic violence agency Bradley Angle offers culturally-specific services for both LGBTQ and African-American survivors, a lack of awareness about domestic violence in the LGBTQ community and a dearth of relationship role models can make it challenging for people to get support and develop healthy relationship skills.
“I feel like domestic violence is like racism or sexism or transphobia within the LGBTQ community. It’s our dirty little secret,” says Cory L. Murphy-Helmkamp, co-chair of the Alliance for Safer Communities. “The people who practice it think because they are queer it shields them from oppressing other people, [but] the fact is we have a lot of domestic abuse.”
According to an obituary that ran in the Oregonian, Bailey is survived by his father, Joel Frank Bailey Jr.; two brothers; three sisters; his favorite uncle, Von; and many relatives and friends. Duane was preceded in death by his mother, Dorina.
If you are in immediate danger, call 911. If you or someone you know needs domestic violence support services, call Bradley Angle’s 24-hour hotline at 503-281-2442 or visit bradleyangle.com from a safe computer. Bradley Angle also offers LGBTQ-specific healthy relationships courses and workshops for the entire community. PQ will continue to follow this story; check for updates on the blog.