The gay men were then knocked to the pavement, beaten, punched, and kicked. The pair attempted to fight off their attackers, but in vain. “Fists started flying. I was on the ground, and the only thing I could do, I reached out and grabbed someone’s hair,” Porto said. First responders rushed the couple to Bellevue Hospital where Atkins was put in a cast for a broken right wrist. Atkins reported that his iPad was smashed in the attack, as well. Since his job for reality television requires accurate typing, Atkins will be unable to work until he heals. Porto, a clothing designer who is a resident of Brooklyn now says he cannot feel safe as a gay man in New York City. “I was being foolish,” he said, hampered by a broken nose. “I was so naïve to think that things were better here.”
The brazen attack in broad daylight elicited anger and resolve to catch the men who harmed Porto and Atkins. Mayoral candidate and city council woman Christine Quinn issued a statement on Tuesday condemning the attack in strong terms. She said, according to Pix 11, “I am appalled by reports of a gay bashing in Midtown Manhattan on Sunday afternoon. Hateful assaults like these are an affront to everything our great City stands for and I urge the perpetrators to turn themselves in immediately. I also implore anyone who may have witnessed or recorded footage of the attack to come forward to the authorities at once.” Instinct Magazine reports that police are searching for four men whose images were caught on surveillance cameras. Authorities are approaching the case as an anti-gay hate crime.
Boston, Massachusetts – Gay students and Law School officials were stunned to discover homophobic slurs scrawled on the walls of the Lambda Students Association the day following the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. When LGBTQ students arrived at the Boston College Law School LGBT Center, they found the door unlocked and scads of epithets demeaning queer folk covering the office walls.
Demeaning slurs such as “cum shot,” “muff diver,” “felching,” “cock gobbler,” “gay bukkake,” and the like competed with a few racial ethic epithets that seem to have been thrown in for good measure. Some sources opined that LGBTQ people were not singled out for humiliation, since Blacks were also targeted by the vandals. Sexual minority students, however, are not buying such denial. They feel the crosshairs of hate aimed directly at them. The Boston College Police Department and the Newton Police Department are investigating the incident.
Robert Trescan, Regional Director for the Anti-Defamation League of New England, said to Boston.com that while hate speech incidents occur on many campuses, this one has a more sinister character to it. “This is a targeted message at a particular place that is important to students, specifically designed to send a message,” he said. “From the police and school’s perspective we want this to be treated as a priority, and all indications is that they are treating this as a priority.”
EDGE Boston reports that the Dean of the Law School was notified in a meeting of the hate graffiti, and rushed to the LGBT Center immediately to see the damage himself. Dean Vincent Rougeau wrote an open letter to the college community, a portion of which says,“The administration of Boston College Law School condemns this reprehensible action and will not tolerate hateful or threatening speech of any kind. This behavior is the antithesis of all we stand for as an institution, and is an assault on our shared values of a welcoming, loving, and inclusive community.”
Joe Triplett, co-chairperson of Above the Law, a student group, said that the entire Boston College community has been concerned and supportive, according to Huffington Post. Triplett also related that a student suggested that the hatefulness of the incident could be diffused and channeled to energize the pro-LGBTQ effort on the Jesuit school’s campus. Inspired by President Obama’s Inaugural endorsement of LGBTQ rights and marriage equality, the unnamed student said that the vandalism should serve as a “backdrop for a dedication to the gay rights movement… posting articles, pictures, and quotes on top of them that show our fight for equal rights from Stonewall to the President’s historic inclusion of gay rights in his inauguration speech yesterday… to show where we have come from and yet how far we still have to go.”
Baltimore, Maryland – A popular gay hairstylist was savagely beaten by a gang of men outside an East Baltimore liquor store on Christmas night. The motive? Kenni Shaw, the victim of the attack, has no doubt that the random attack was because of his perceived sexual orientation. Police are still investigating the alleged anti-gay hate crime in the “Charm City.”
According to the Baltimore Sun, Shaw, 30 years old, was simply walking past the East Baltimore beverage shop near his home at approximately 9 p.m. on Christmas when the assault started. Shaw said he tried to beg his attackers to stop, but the blows kept coming so hard and fast he couldn’t get the words out of his mouth. The punches pinned him to the pavement. ”I was just beaten in my face. Nothing was taken. No words were exchanged before the incident, so to me, I think it was a hate crime,” Shaw told The Sun. People in his neighborhood had previously called him “faggot,” but Shaw, a six-foot-tall cosmetologist and hairstylist, never believed homophobic attitudes would issue in such violence.
His mother, Sheila Shaw, told The Sun that Kenni had immediately called her. “I can’t even describe that moment for me. I thought my world was ending,” she said. “No parent wants to get that phone call. The tone of his voice … I thought, ‘He’s strong enough to make the phone call, but I’m probably going to lose my son.’” When she rushed to the hospital and finally got to see her son, Ms. Shaw said she could hardly recognize who he was.
While he was on the phone, paramedics came to transport him to Johns Hopkins, the famed Baltimore hospital, where he was treated for his wounds. Despite the bruises, cuts, and lacerations on his face and knees, there were no fractures. Shaw suspects that bystanders called for help, an indication that not all residents of the neighborhood agree with anti-gay violence.
Shaw said to WBFF Fox News 45 that he was simply glad to be alive. During his recovery at his mother’s home in Baltimore County, Shaw posted an Instagram photo of himself, before and after the assault, showing the horrific effects of the attack. According to Pink News, hundreds of responses supporting the hairstylist poured in from around the country and the world. As he healed from the physical injuries of hate, Shaw decided to speak out against the homophobia that victimizes so many in Baltimore. ”It makes me angry and upset, but at the same time, I am here and I made it through,” he told The Sun. “I just want to stand and make sure I have a voice, so this doesn’t happen again to a loved one or anyone.” His relatives are standing strong with Shaw, as well, supporting his outspoken efforts to stop anti-gay hate crimes in their community.
“This needs to be spoken to because somebody needs to take a stand,” he said. “Hate crimes happen every day.”
Shaw firmly believes that anti-gay bias motivated his attackers, spoiling the Christmas spirit for him, his family, and the City of Baltimore. Police have been receptive to Shaw’s allegations, and say that, even though they are not ready to assign a motive to the assault at this time, they have already received several “good leads” in the case. When arrests are made, Baltimore Police say that they will communicated with the Attorney General of the state to determine the nature of the charges they will file.
Meanwhile, Shaw says he will not stop speaking out. In an interview with The Sun, he told reporters, “I’m glad I could share my story and people could empathize with the story, because I’m getting a lot of feedback from people who have been through it or who have had family members who have been through it,” Shaw said. “I’m glad I could be a spokesman, because a lot of people don’t make it through situations like this.”
Carrollton, Texas – The body of a savagely murdered 22-year-old gay man was found by his housemate in his home in this Dallas suburb on Friday. Police, who are classifying the investigation as a murder case, are not releasing his identity. The victim, known by his circle of friends, fellow church members, and work associates as “Shawn,” was found by Tony Adams who shared a home with him in the 2100 block of Placid Drive. Adams discovered the body upon returning home from work. According to the Dallas Voice, the victim was a well-regarded actor in the Dallas arts community, along with Adams.
“Shawn’s” identity has been complicated because he was known by a stage name he had assumed in the theater, and enjoyed using the name as his own in real life. As of Monday, it is not clear whether “Shawn’s” family has been contacted about the homicide.
Both Adams and the victim attended the Metropolitan Community Church of Greater Dallas where Rev. Colleen Darraugh is the pastor. Pastor Darraugh is quoted by the Dallas Voice as saying that blood covered much of the house. “Evidently it was a brutal beating,” she said, intimating that knives may have been used in the fatal attack. The MCC of Greater Dallas is collecting money to help Adams with the crime-scene cleanup, and with replacing clothing and furnishings that were destroyed in the crime. In an email sent to congregational members and friends, Pastor Darraugh wrote, in part:
“Tony Adams Schmidt is a friend and colleague who some of you know through his work on sound and lighting at Metropolitan Community Church of Greater Dallas and others know through his acting, directing, sound and lighting work in community theatre.
“We regret to share with you that Tony’s housemate, Shawn – whom many of you also know – was brutally killed in their home. The police are actively investigating to apprehend the culprits and to find the motive for this extreme violence.
“We share in grief at the death of Shawn and pray for his family and all of his friends.
“We surround Tony with love and support, praying for him as he deals with his grief and the shock of finding such a horrific scene.”
The email goes on to detail how donations can be made online to the church’s Benevolence Fund.
The nature of the murder, whether it was related to the victim’s sexual orientation, and how the murder gained access to the home are open questions for the LGBTQ community of Dallas and its surrounding suburbs. As the story unfolds, Unfinished Lives will continue to monitor police reports and the media to ensure this terrible crime does not disappear from the community’s sight.
Ortmann, who became homeless a couple of months ago, attempted to find shelter in charity housing, but, as he learned, there are very few options for homeless men in Murfreesboro. After revealing his sexual orientation to other men living in Tent City this past weekend, Ortmann says he was ambushed, beaten, and left unconscious with an eye swollen shut, and his whole body racked with pain. ”It was a big crowd, and all I remembered really is being hit once or twice and being knocked out cold,” Ortmann said to WSMV.
As The New Civil Rights Movement reports, Ortmann is crystal clear on the reason for the brutal assault. “I was beat up because I was gay,” he said. “It’s considered a hate crime. It’s against the law to put your hands on someone to begin with.” Now, he sleeps fitfully, expecting another attack at any time. Ortmann is considering moving to Nashville for his own safety, but his prospects are bleak there, too. “It makes it 10 times harder when you’re gay and homeless at the same time,” he explained to WSMV.
Local authorities say that the hate crime aspect of this case is important. Sgt. Kyle Evans, Murfreesboro police spokesman, told reporters for WSMV, “The reporting officer indicated the bias motivation for the attack was anti-homosexual. If that is indeed the case, not only could they be facing these assault charges; they could be facing more serious charges.”
Meanwhile, Ortmann is recovering from both physical and psychic wounds in an environment where he fears for his life. ”It’s bad enough where I have to keep watch, keep an eye over my shoulder the entire time,” he said. “It’s pretty bad right now to the point that I don’t sleep that many hours now.”