Local LGBTQIA+ nightclub closes unexpectedly
Jan. 18, 2023 – By Brittany Anderson
For the past eight years, thousands have trekked up the rainbow stairs to Stonewall Warehouse, located on the Square in San Marcos, for an LGBTQIA+ safe space and fun nightlife experience. On New Year’s Day, this was unexpectedly cut short.
Former general manager of five years, Lena Jacobs, was the first to arrive with owner Jamie Frailicks for what she assumed was a beginning of the year business meeting.
“We got into his office and sat down and his whole attitude and energy changed. He basically said, ‘Today’s going to be a hard day; last night was Stonewall’s last night,’” Jacobs said. “During that whole time, I honestly can’t tell you if I said anything. I don’t think I did. I was in shock.”
In summer 2022, Frailicks was approached by various groups inquiring if he was selling the space. While he initially wasn’t, it “started some conversations.”
“Stonewall has been failing for years. It’s cost me money every month for years,” he continued. “So, when the opportunity came around [to sell], I listened … We’ve tried everything. I feel like I’ve been beating my head against the wall for years trying to figure out something to improve it and get more people up there.”
Frailicks admitted that his lack of presence in the bar likely “had a lot to do with some of our failures,” but having two young children while working in the bar business didn’t mix.
“That’s why I had a lot of trust in my staff and my managers that were operationally taking care of everything,” Frailicks said. “As a business owner, at some point, you have to be able to trust people that you are paying to take care of your stuff. And that’s what I did. I think it did create some problems, but I didn’t know how else to do it. Trying to be a good husband and a good father, those duties were more important to me than anything.”
“Anybody who’s in this industry knows that unless it’s the perfect circumstance for shutting down a business or a bar, it’s hard to announce that you’re going to say goodbye to it and then be able to run it properly and have everybody’s safety being taken care of,” Frailicks said. “When you lose the promise [of the business]… it becomes dangerous for the public, for the patrons, for the staff because people aren’t acting responsibly. And I take that very seriously. I always have in operating a business that sells alcohol … Even after all of this, I would still make the same decision, because it’s not safe to take chances like that. And while I 100% understand that people needed some closure, they needed to say goodbye to it, it just ultimately was not an option. I wish that it could have been different, but it just wasn’t, and I stick by that.”
Former staff view the situation differently, though. Bartender Cooper Murphy, who began working at Stonewall in December 2021, believes that if Frailicks had gotten to “know the integrity of his workers up there,” Stonewall’s final days could have looked much different.
“Throughout the year I was there, we were always praised on how we did a good job and got work done from our manager. I understand that at the end of the day, he made a decision to sell the bar, and it is what it is. But other gay clubs I feel like have gotten closure,” Murphy said. “They were able to enjoy their last night with their ‘home.’ And it’s sad that it had to be the way it was, because if we had just gotten some closure, none of this public craziness would have happened.”
For many, the loss of Stonewall felt like a death.
“I’m actually really scared for a lot of these kids. Not all families are accepting of gay people. They leave home and come here and this is the first time they actually get to express themselves how they want to for the first time. They’re finally away from home and they’re like, ‘I can be who I want to be.’ And I think that’s really going to hurt a lot of people that now feel they have nowhere to do that,” Jacobs said. “I know there’s queer friendly places. I don’t think everywhere is bad, by any means. But it’s not the same. It’s not a place where you can go and know 100% that no one is going to judge you, no one is going to hurt you, no one is going to mess with you. You are in a safe place to be who you want to be. And I don’t think there’s anywhere else like that in San Marcos and I don’t think there will be again, unless someone opens another bar.”
The memories made and community found at Stonewall have unquestionably made a lasting impact — and its legacy, no matter how the business ended or how it will be reborn, will not be forgotten.
Revisit the Story at: https://www.haysfreepress.com/2023/01/18/local-lgbtqia-nightclub-closes-unexpectedly/
Hays County tackles mental health, criminal justice system
Aug. 16, 2023 – By Megan Navarro
HAYS COUNTY — Hays County continues to work to help the individuals in the criminal justice system who are dealing with mental health issues.
The Hays County Commissioners Court received an update on the Hays County Behavioral Advisory Team’s (BAT) progress at its Aug. 8 meeting.
The team was established in March 2023 in order to function as a single point of advisory, accountability, planning and resource coordination for the cities of San Marcos and Kyle, as well as Hays County’s, behavioral health services, according to the BAT charter. Behavioral health encompasses all individuals with co-occurring diagnoses to include mental health, substance abuse and intellectual/developmental disabilities.
“The group was created after the Hays County Mental Health Assessment was done and also the Sequential Intercept Model Mapping Workshop,” said commissioner Debbie Ingalsbe. “There’s a great group of individuals that have been working very hard to provide more mental health [and] substance abuse services here in Hays County.”
County Court-at-Law 3 Judge Elaine Brown and San Marcos Police Chief Stan Standridge serve as co-chairs. Hays County District Attorney Kelly Higgins, court representation including probation and pretrial services, defense attorneys, law enforcement, city council members, mental health providers, emergency service members, commissioners and jail personnel also make up the team.
Brown, whose court presides over the Mental Health Court, said that the BAT has identified gaps in services in Hays County and identified goals for the team to address.
“We would like to see a diversion center or stabilization center in Hays County to address those issues that are crisis situations where people are in a mental health crisis and they need to be stabilized,” she said.
“Additionally, we would like to see an Assertive Community Treatment program. Assertive Community Treatment programs help individuals who have serious mental illness and this is a way to keep them out of the jail system to allow them to remain in the community and to be productive,” Brown continued. “We also, as a part of that, would like to focus on local competency restoration. We have many individuals who are sitting in jail and they have not even had their day in court yet, but they are there because they are incompetent to stand trial and until their competency is established, their case cannot move forward.”
Other goals that the BAT has are: to explore the development of a Behavioral Health Office to coordinate county services; increase information and data sharing across the Sequential Intercept Model (SIM); and enhance 911 and law enforcement response to behavioral health crises.
While he is in full support of all of the goals that the team has, Higgins said he believes that local restoration is “one early, achievable goal that will make a major difference.”
“My focus as DA has been very much related to our jail population and the failures of the system regarding mentally ill and, specifically, legally incompetent inmates,” Higgins said, touching on his focus being on the BAT. “Since getting into the group, I have pushed very strongly for new ways to address that problem, including, especially, local restoration, which can be both in the jail and as a condition of bond.”
For example, Higgins explained, someone with a mental health issue who was arrested for criminal trespassing — which could mean spending up to 90 days in jail — would currently be waiting 20 months for a mental health hospital bed due to mental incompetence to stand trial.
“If you had to wait 20 months before you could go to a state hospital and now begin a medical regime of restoration, which includes medication, let’s say that three to four months later, you are restored. You are returned to the Hays County Jail [and] you have now spent two actual years in custody for the criminal trespass that you committed at a 7-Eleven at 9 o’clock on a Friday night when they asked you to leave,” Higgins said. “That’s two years of your liberty [and] two years of your mental health. Two years of our county providing all of the resources to keep you alive, but not in a way that anyone would ever ask for. Local restoration will mean that we can either release this inmate to either [their] home with conditions of bond requiring medication or we can diagnose, prescribe and administer medication within the jail.”
Higgins also said the team has a concern that there are different groups doing the same work while competing for limited resources — he emphasized that there should be a more coordinated and unified effort to address the needs of the community.
Standridge echoed Higgins’ point that what the team and Hays County are doing should be a relational effort, as many feel helpless when someone is suffering from a mental illness.
“Mental illness is the non-casserole disease. What does that mean? When a family member suffers from a mental illness, nobody is bringing you casseroles over. Instead, we don’t know what to do with this issue,” Standridge said. “But I’m convinced that the stakeholders in this room and the stakeholders that are behind me are committed to doing different.”
Following the presentation, the commissioners court agreed to have a collaborative effort.
“I believe in everyone working together, collaborating. In my own advocacy work, I wouldn’t have gone as far as I have without that collaboration with other entities all working toward the same goal. I know [that] sometimes it seems that we are attacking it from different angles, but I think the overall goal is to build this mental health awareness and support for the entire community. I know that sometimes, I will pinpoint certain areas, but we need it across the board in our county,” said commissioner Michelle Cohen.
Commissioner Lon Shell said that he recognizes that Hays County is having to rely on the state of Texas to create mental health hospital beds for individuals and “they just don’t exist.”
“What are we supposed to do at that point? What are the taxpayers supposed to do at that point? We know these individuals are in a facility that is not the best place for their condition. It puts a lot of stress on our staff, our operations [and] it’s unsafe both for them, others in our custody and our officers. It is a lose-lose situation altogether,” he said. “I think any type of investments we can make in that competency restoration realm will create much improvement throughout our system, not just the jail population, but outcomes for individual folks and a safer community, I think, is the goal for all.”
Groups and organizations are invited to participate in an upcoming BAT symposium, which will be held at a future date that is yet to be determined, to address how resources and needs can be created and managed in the community.
Those who are interested in working with the county to develop and implement programs for this effort or who want to participate in the symposium, can contact Mental Health Court Administrator Kaimi Mattila at 512-757-0795 or firstname.lastname@example.org.