Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Attacker Arrested for Brutal Transgender Beating in Hollywood

Vivian Diego, 22, speaks out for justice after being attacked on May 31 by a gang of transphobic men. (Advocate Image)

Vivian Diego, 22, speaks out for justice after being attacked on May 31 by a gang of transphobic men. (CBS 2 Image)

Hollywood, California – A man has been arrested in the savage beating case involving a transgender woman last month.  Nicol Shakhnazayan, 21, was taken into custody by detectives of the Los Angeles Police Department and charged with felony battery of a woman.  Shakhnazayan, whose arrest happened a day after Los Angeles city leaders posted a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the assailants in the case, is being held on $1.05 million bail, according to Gay Star News.  The victim, 22-year-old transgender woman Vivian Diego, was assaulted by four men shouting transphobic and homophobic slurs.  The assault took place late on the night of May 31 near a Metro stop at Hollywood and Ivar, after Ms. Diego finished her shift as a barista at Beso Restaurant.  CBS Los Angeles reports that video of the attack on Ms. Diego helped in making the arrest of the first suspect.  Lt. Marc Reina of the LAPD told CBS2: “One of the members of the group ran after Vivian and struck her from behind, knocking her to the ground. The remaining members of the group then joined in brutally assaulting Vivian by repeatedly kicking her, even while she lay motionless on the sidewalk.”

Ms. Diego described the horror and pain of the attack in vivid terms: “It was awful. I wouldn’t wish the pain I went through on my worst enemy.”  She sustained a broken jaw, a smashed cheekbone, bruises, and two cracked ribs.  Her family remains solidly in support of her, calling on the police and city officials to bring the other perpetrators of this hate crime to justice.

As she recovers, Ms. Diego, whose mouth is wired shut, communicated optimism and determination through her pain.  She is proud to be a transgender woman.  “I am not letting this incident, this attack stop me from living my life,” she said to CBS News. “As you can see, I’m still fabulous.”

June 25, 2013 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, California, Gang violence, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Latino and Latina Americans, LGBTQ, Slurs and epithets, Stomping and Kicking Violence, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Attacker Arrested for Brutal Transgender Beating in Hollywood

Young Transgender Person Savagely Beaten in Hollywood Hate Crime: Updated

Victor Diego, 22, transgender and gay victim of brutal beating on Hollywood Boulevard.

Victor Diego, 22, transgender and gay victim of brutal beating on Hollywood Boulevard [CBS 2 photo].

Hollywood, California – A 22-year-old transgender person who is identified as “gay” and male by his close relatives was brutally assaulted by a gang of men on Hollywood Boulevard near the Metro Station.  Victor Diego, a barista at Beso’s Restaurant, had gotten off work and dressed to go out with friends, according to CBS LA, when the men attacked Diego form behind, fracturing two ribs, shattering his cheekbone, punching him multiple times in the eyes, breaking his jaw, and kicking him in the temple–an injury that his sister says will require surgery.  Diego’s attackers did their worst and fled the scene, leaving their victim helpless in the street.  “He was basically left for dead just because of who he is,” Virginia Diego said to CBS.

Reportage on the attack has been careful to note that how Diego identifies in terms of gender identity and gender expression is not known.  His sisters Virginia and Melissa have used both male and female pronouns to describe Diego, which reflects family practice, but not necessarily Diego’s own sense of personhood.  Photographs show a graceful, lovely person with a sense of style and taste.  Sister Virginia Diego said to reporters, “Sometimes men try to talk to him and they get humiliated in front of their friends when they realize it’s a man. Because he looks really good, he looks like a woman, you couldn’t tell the difference,” she continued. Sister Melissa Diego said that the Los Angeles Police Department, Hollywood Division is pursing the case as a transphobic hate crime.  “We don’t want this to happen to anybody else,” she said. We just want somebody to come forward and let us know what they saw. He deserves justice.”  Diego is recuperating at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.  Update: GLAAD reports that the victim has informed the LAPD of her preferred name and pronominal usage.  In contradistinction to her family’s identification of her gender, the victim wishes to be known by “Vivian,” and indicated that she wants police and the media to use feminine pronouns when referring to her.

Diego shows multiple injuries sustained in Thursday night's attack.

Diego shows multiple injuries sustained in Thursday night’s attack.

Fox News Latino reports that Hollywood’s Beso Restaurant where young Diego works is owned by actress Eva Longoria, famed for her roles on The Young and the Restless, and Desperate Housewives.  The film and television star has not issued a statement in relation to the attack.

As the manhunt for Vivian Diego’s attackers continues, we are left to speculate about the rising number of anti-gay, anti-lesbian, and transphobic bias attacks reported recently, especially in New York City where the incidents of hate crimes is spiking to record highs as LGBT Pride celebrations kick off in the Big Apple.  Is this hate crime attack against a gay and transgender person connected in some copycat way to the wave of East Coast brutalities?  Some pundits suggest that the recent emphasis on the high profile human rights cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, and the increasing number of states making marriage equality legal for their residents may be igniting hostility among the opponents of LGBTQ rights in America.

For now, Vivian Diego has more immediate problems: facing surgery and how to pay for it, recuperating from the shattering physical and mental experience of being attacked for who she is–a crime unthinkable among fair minded people, but brutally frequent in the swirling emotions surrounding the expansion of human rights in the United States.

June 3, 2013 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, California, gay bashing, gay men, Gay Pride Month, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Hollywood, Latino and Latina Americans, LGBTQ, transgender persons, transphobia, U.S. Supreme Court, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Young Transgender Person Savagely Beaten in Hollywood Hate Crime: Updated

Hollywood Hate Crime Suggests City Unsafe for Gays

All is not well for gays in the City of the Stars.

Hollywood, California – Police are investigating a severe beating at one of the busiest corners in Hollywood this Sunday. According to CBS 2 News, three men approached a lone, 39-year-old Hispanic man at the corner of North Caheunga Boulevard and Yucca Street, asking him if he was gay.  When he said “yes,” the men attacked him so brutally that he lost consciousness.  They only stopped their assault when other people arrived on the scene, and moved in to help the victim.  The victim took a cab to the hospital where he was treated and released.  Police have only a vague description of the attackers. There has been no evidence to suggest there was a racial/ethnic dimension to the assault.  This appears to be a gay bashing, plain and simple, and police in the Hollywood Division of the LAPD are investigating it as such.

The attack took place around 1:30 am in the heart of Hollywood, a location where people have felt safe for years.  For a man to be assaulted so blatantly raises security concerns for residents.  Area resident Daniela Castro told CBS 2 reporters that she was shocked and disgusted that such a hate crime took place in her neighborhood.  “I hate that people have to think that way,” she said. “People need to be more open-minded.” Noting that she walks through the same intersection to and from acting classes, Castro said, “I really hope they get caught. If they keep doing that to people, it’s just not right.”

The gay community in the Hollywood area is on high alert already.  In October, a series of gay bashings took place in West Hollywood, according to the Los Angeles Times.  Authorities downplayed the anti-gay attacks at that time, reassuring the community that there was no evidence that the fall attacks were related to each other, and that there was apparently no upsurge in anti-gay violence in the city.  Now, with this disturbing gay bashing taking place in the heart of the city, gay activists are calling for immediate investigation and action to protect the large LGBTQ community.

March 18, 2012 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, California, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, LGBTQ, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Hollywood Hate Crime Suggests City Unsafe for Gays

   

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