Two weeks ago, Chicago gay activists John Pennycuff and Robert Castillo were highlighted in media reports as the first couple to sign up for the Cook County Domestic Partnership Registry Oct. 1.
The following week, on Oct. 7 and 9, they received two hate-filled, unsigned letters.
'I was shocked at first, I couldn't believe we would get hate mail,' said Pennycuff. 'This is the first time we have received hate mail in the 12 years we have been activists in the community.'
The two letters were both postmarked in northwest suburban Palatine, which is in Cook County.
The couple, who are both members of the Mayor's Advisory Council on LGBT Issues, contacted both the mayor's LGBT liaison Bill Greaves, and the police department. They filled out a police report at the 23rd District, but police said it would not be classified as a hate crime. They also said the couple should continue to report any additional incidents.
None of the dozens of other couples who have registered have contacted Windy City Times with similar accounts.
The first letter received by Castillo and Pennycuff, office manager for Windy City Times, was addressed to both their home, and the home of an 'R. Castillo' on Oak Park Avenue. The letter writer must have retrieved the personal information from a database. The letter read: 'The gay registry increases a person's exposure to danger, especially when your story is published in newspapers, you dumb shits. It's easy to know where you live in this electronic age. Please watch your backs for awhile. A friend.'
The next letter stepped up the rhetoric, and included many racially loaded words and phrases. The person tried to make it sound like the letter was sent from Operation PUSH, and was signed 'Jimmy L. Daniels, Head NIGGER In Charge.' At the bottom, it said 'Our motto ... the only good queer is a DEAD queer!!!'
The letter started with 'Dear Filthy, Disgusting FAGGOT.' It went on to list the proposed content of a fictitious school course called 'Niceties Every Nigger Should Know.' The list of 20 items was filled with racial stereotypes and hate language.
'I don't want people to be afraid to register, despite this incident,' Castillo said.