Austin Gay Bash Victim Speaks Out
After two male friends hugged in parting after spending Christmas night at a gay club in Austin, Texas, they were harassed and then physically attacked by five men who emerged from a passing car. Although about 25 people were nearby and witnessed the attack, no one came to the men’s aid until a third man--another friend--emerged from the club and called 911.
News of the attack--and the lack of response from the crowd that looked on and did nothing--prompted outrage, but the victims themselves doubted that justice would be served, telling a local news outlet, "We’ll never catch these guys," reported the Washington Blade on Dec. 30.
The story was noted in the gay online press, but was largely overlooked by the mainstream press, until local newspaper the Austin Chronicle ran in interview with victim Bobby Beltran on Dec. 30.
As it turned out, there was a personal connection involved; writer Kate X. Messer disclosed that she was an acquaintance of Beltran’s, and described him as "one of those great guys I run into socially, out at the clubs and happenings," going on to say, "I admire him for speaking his mind and heart."
Beltran described how he had just spent the first Christmas away from his family, and how he had gone to the nightclub Rain with several friends, one of whom was new to the city. Beltran and his friends stayed until the early hours of Dec. 26, and were departing from Rain when a carload of men hurled anti-gay abused at them.
Beltran said that the driver yelled out, "Fucking faggots! Quit your queer shit!" A passenger in the back seat also shouted homophobic abuse. Beltran said that he was not about to "tolerate" being harassed for being gay.
"It was uncalled for, not necessary, hurtful, and on Christmas," he told the Austin Chronicle. "I mean, really? So, I turned, and I said, ’You know, that shit is not welcomed here! Our city does not accept that! Get out! You do not belong here!’ " At that point, the driver exited the car and approached Beltran, who held his ground. The driver demanded, "What the fuck did you tell me, faggot?" Responded Beltran, "You know what I fucking said. Get out; it’s not welcomed here."
The friend Beltran had hugged good night attempted to intervene, but then several more men emerged from the vehicle. The attackers formed a circle around the two and began to punch and kick them while uttering anti-gay epithets. Beltran recalled that one assailant yelled, "You fucking deserve that, faggot."
"I felt like it was a planned assault," Beltran said. "They knew what they were doing, like they had done this before. I had no escape. Every time I tried to hit someone back or try to defend myself, I was getting hit in another direction. They circled us like hawks feeding off prey; it was just disgusting."
Beltran estimated that about 25 people saw the attack in progress. Though the beating went on for about three minutes, no one stepped in. When a third man--another friend of Beltran--exited the gay club and saw what was happening, he dialed 911 and then shouted, "The cops are coming!" At that point, the attackers--five in all--took to their heels. Beltran shouted out the license plate number of their car as the attackers sped away, but no one in the crowd wrote the number down.
A policeman was on the scene quickly, but declined to follow the fleeing car, Beltran said. "Listen! Stop asking me questions!" Beltran recounted himself as saying to the officer. "I’m telling you descriptions! Follow them!" The officer responded that since no one had recorded the attack on a cell phone camera or other video device, there was nothing to be done but fill out a report.
Beltran added that the way the media handled the incident was mixed. "KXAN did an amazing job at portraying what really happened it was a great interview," he said of an interview with an NBC affiliated TV station. "KVUE really just skewed the words and had them saying that we claimed to have that attack," added Beltran, referring to a local ABC affiliate. "I was telling a fact: it was a hate crime, a down right dirty a hate crime.
"And I may have provided ’the bait’ as the news calls it, but I don’t put up with shit like that when somebody comes up to my face and says, ’Fucking faggot!’ " Beltran declared.