Student defends gay men, hailed as hero
Terrance Mannery is sure he did the right thing, even if it got him punched in the face a few times.
He was working earlier this month at a downtown dessert shop in Salt Lake City. Terrance, a Milwaukee native and 2015 Ronald Reagan High School graduate, is out there attending Neumont College of Computer Science.
It was near closing time on a Saturday night. Four men who had left the Utah Pride Festival across the street ran into the shop, called Doki Doki, to seek refuge from a mob of men chasing them and yelling antigay slurs and threats.
Terrance headed for the door to prevent the troublemakers from coming inside. Someone had to do it. At 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, he decided that was him.
“My thought process was that you guys are already harassing people to the point where they felt they had to come inside our store just to be safe. I’m not going to let you and your friends in to cause more trouble,” he told me in a phone interview.
The mob greeted him with flying fists and by jamming him against a glass door. A stack of chairs had fallen between the outer and inner doors, preventing anyone in the shop from coming out to help Terrance.
He punched back to defend himself and pushed the intruders outside toward the street. With bystanders walking up and police on the way, the dozen or more bullies ran off.
Terrance, 21, had a cut above his lip and another near his eye, but he was OK.
“My main thing was making sure everyone inside the store was safe. I kinda wish some of the people could have been arrested, but the main goal was accomplished,” he said.
Police in Salt Lake City are asking for leads, and the Utah Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce is offering a $5,000 reward for information resulting in prosecution. Unfortunately, there is no surveillance video.
At first, Terrance wasn’t going to tell his mom living back here in Glendale. But news stories about the incident began popping up on social media, so he sent her a text so she wouldn’t freak out.
“He knew I would have caught a plane there right away. So he made sure I knew,” Martina Mannery told me.
She is proud of her son and says she raised him to accept everyone despite our differences.
“You don’t treat anyone differently, no matter what’s going on. They’re someone’s father, sister, mother, whatever. You can’t treat them bad just because of their sexuality,” Martina said.
I heard about this story from Cory Kilsdonk, who was Terrance’s teacher at Milwaukee’s IDEAL Charter School through eighth grade.
“Even during the typically tumultuous times of early adolescence, he stood out as a sensitive yet outgoing person with a strong sense of empathy. Definitely not surprised that he stepped up in this manner,” said Cory, who has since switched professions and is now a Milwaukee firefighter.
As word of the incident spread, people began showing up at Doki Doki to thank Terrance. Even the men he was protecting returned to express gratitude.
It’s alarming and sad to see this kind of harassment of LGBTQ people. “Even though progress is being made, there’s still a lot further to go,” Terrance said.
Tracey Dean, chairwoman of the Utah gay business group, called Terrance a local hero. It’s a word he’s been trying to brush aside as he explains that he was just doing the right thing.
That hasn’t worked, he said with a laugh, “because it’s something heroes would say.”