Netflix’s Dahmer Series Is Re-Traumatizing Milwaukee’s Black LGBTQ Community

By greatbritton

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This Halloween, the internet’s been abuzz with talk about the new Netflix series, “Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story.” From general spooky season excitement, to Rick Ross asking Twitter to help find him a pair of Dahmer style glasses, people can’t help but to be obsessed with the tale of the Milwaukee Cannibal. That is, of course, everyone except those who lived in the city during Dahmer’s reign of terror, and those who were a part of the very community the killer targeted.

Between 1978 and 1991, Jeffrey Dahmer sexually assaulted, murdered, and dismembered 17 men and boys; most of them Black, and most of them gay. Eric Wayne, a former Milwaukee drag star who performed frequently in the eighties, recently spoke with NBC News about how the Netflix series is not just a story for Hollywood consumption, but trauma the LGBTQ community of the city is being forced to relive due to its fanfare.

Wynn, now 59, recalls dropping to his knees when he saw photos of the 16 boys, (some of whom he knew well) in a local Milwaukee newspaper during the summer of 1991. In his late teens, Wynn says that he would drive from his hometown in Illinois, across the Wisconsin border, and into Milwaukee to go to the gay bars in the area. He was also one of the few regular Black drag performers at Club 219, a venue that Dahmer frequented.

Wynn also recalls the fans and friends he made during his time performing at 219.

“They used to come in there to see me because they actually had representation,” he said of the young men.

Then, almost out of the blue, he stopped seeing some of his top supporters. But it quickly made sense when he was able to match his memory of some of his fans, to the faces he saw in the paper that summer.

“He had gotten every single one of those boys, and they were all Black,” Wynn said. “It ripped my heart out.”

30 years later, Wynn and other members of the community say that the show, which debuted on the streaming platform on September 21, is too painful to relive. Wynn personally believes that while once a fan of director Ryan Murphy, (who is gay and often includes LGBTQ representation in his projects), that an apology from the director now is owed to the families of the victims.

“Ryan Murphy has just been so amazing for the community,” Wynn said, also mentioning that he’s a fan of Murphy’s other series, “Pose,” the Netflix drama that captures New York’s underground ballroom scene of the 1980s. “And then to turn around and just slap us like this for profit and sensationalism — I was so disappointed.”

Neither Netflix nor Murphy chose to respond to NBC’s request for comment, however, the show’s creators and lead actor spoke on the desire to center the story of the victim’s families, not Dahmer himself.

“It’s called ‘The Jeffrey Dahmer Story,’ but it’s not just him and his backstory,” Evan Peters, who plays Dahmer in the show, told Netflix Queue, the platform’s digital publication. “It’s the repercussions; it’s how society and our system failed to stop him multiple times because of racism and homophobia. Everybody gets their side of the story told.”

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