Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Austin Becoming Unsafe for Gays: Bashing on 4th Street

Bobby Beltran, bashed for giving his friend a hug.

Austin, Texas – In an apparent gay bashing, a leading gay activist and his male friend were attacked on December 26 outside Austin’s popular nightclub, Rain. Bobby Beltran reported to the Dallas Voice that he and Christopher Ortega had just shared a parting hug outside the club at approximately 1:30 a.m., when a white sedan filled with five angry men stopped in the street shouting homophobic slurs at the couple. Beltran, who helped organize this year’s Queer Bomb in Austin, says that one of the men in the automobile shouted, “Fucking faggots! Cut out that queer shit!” According to On Top Magazine, Beltran yelled back, “That stuff’s not welcome here in Austin. We don’t accept that.” The quintet rushed out of the car, surrounded Beltran and Ortega, and assaulted them with punches, yells, and kicks. The gay men tried to fight off their attackers, and the violence lasted for three of four minutes until one of the assailants warned that police were coming. The attackers were described as two black men, two Latinos, and one white man. Beltran suffered cuts, bruises, and a wounded eye.  Ortega suffered a major blow to the jaw that may have broken it. According to the gay men, somewhere between 20 and 30 onlookers witnessed that attack, but none of them lifted a finger to help. In the melee, Beltran shouted out the number of the license plate belonging to the white sedan, but no one bothered to write it down, and he cannot remember it after the fact. The non-responsiveness of the crowd (some of them gay), and the lukewarm response of the Austin Police to the brazen assault, has the LGBTQ community in Austin worried about the safety of a city that was until recently considered gay-friendly. Ortega told local NBC reporters from KXAN, “The response [of the police] was like ‘Sorry guys. We’ll give you a report number. We’ll never catch these guys.’”  Beltran said to The Horn, a University of Texas Independent news outlet, “I’ve never in my life been in any kind of violent situation, especially a hate crime, so it’s been pretty traumatic.” Beltran continued. “Austin is supposed to be a gay haven, especially on 4th Street. What scares me even more is that nobody even helped. I’m so afraid to go back down there.” FBI statistics show Austin leads the state of Texas in reported anti-gay attacks for medium-sized cities. Beltran says the hate crime attack on Ortega and himself is the third such violent incident in the capital city this year. In February 2010, for example, two male team members from the Shady Ladies Softball Club were assaulted near the Austin City Hall. The attack on the gay athletes sparked a downtown March Against Hate last March. Beltran posted a photo of his injuries on the web (see above), and commented, “I’m just trying to get the word out there that this is going on in Austin, and it’s not safe right now. To find out that [gay bashing] is here in Austin on 4th Street, and knowing that fellow gay men were not doing anything about it, is just shocking.”

December 29, 2010 - Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Austin Police Department, Beatings and battery, FBI, gay bashing, gay men, harassment, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latinos, Law and Order, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Protests and Demonstrations, Slurs and epithets, Stomping and Kicking Violence, Texas, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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