Anatomy of a Gay Bashing, Part 1
The story of the Christmas night gay bashing
By Kate X Messer,
10:00AM, Thu. Dec. 30, 2010
Bobby Beltran and a friend were attacked on Christmas night in Austin's warehouse district. We sat with Bobby and turned on a microphone. Here is Part 1 of that interview.
The deeply disturbing news of the Christmas night attack on Bobby Beltran and Chris Ortega outside of Rain on 4th has hit Austin mostly through Facebook and word of mouth. A few news reports have surfaced on local TV outlets, with more in-depth focus being generated from out of town sources like the Dallas Voice and the most excellent LGBT blog, Towleroad.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: In the interest of full disclosure, I consider Bobby Beltran a friend, one of those great guys I run into socially, out at the clubs and happenings who manages to melt whatever chill I might happen to be lugging into wherever we might each other. He agreed to an interview. In terms of journalistic standards, boundaries, limitations, and the like, I'll be quite frank: I asked him questions and let him "run with it," as it were. We don't often hear from the folks whose lives are forever changed by violence. We may think we do, but often, what appears in print is sanitized or shortened for attention spans and sound bites. I'm running this interview very close to its original shape, with some editing for syntax, clarity, and chronology. For the ease of reading, I've broken longer quotes into themed segments. Other than that, this is all Bobby. I admire him for speaking his mind and heart. –KXM]
This interview was conducted on December 28, 2010, 4:27pm by Kate X Messer and Katie Tomasino
Austin Chronicle: Let’s establish the facts of what happened on Christmas night.
Bobby Beltran: It was Christmas day – the first Christmas I’ve ever spent without my family. I made plans with fellow co-workers to get together; we were all pretty much without families there for the first time. So it was already a really kind of sad day. But I said, you know what? I’m going to make this positive. I’m gonna have a great time. It was about spending time with friends. I decided later on that night to meet a friend who just moved into town and has recently come out of the closet; this world is brand new to him. The doors have just been open.
He and I were meeting at Rain on 4th after my dinner with my friends at the W. So, we did, we hung out there and had a great time. It was getting late, and we walked out of the bar at 1:30/2 o'clock in the morning, westbound towards Lavaca, shared a brief hug, saying goodbye, see you later, great time tonight.
BB: At that exact moment, a car pulled up, also heading westbound on Fourth. First the driver, then the back seat passenger started yelling out, "Fucking faggots! Quit your queer shit!" And immediately at that exact point, I thought about what happened with the Shady Ladies – that those men weren’t caught, and I was not going to tolerate that. I was not going to let these guys get away with just calling us that. It was uncalled for, not necessary, hurtful, and on Christmas. 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!" Then the driver came out and said, "What the fuck did you tell me, faggot?" And I said, "You know what I fucking said. Get out; it’s not welcomed here." He came up to me, kind of started putting his chest out, and my friend Christopher got in between us and said, "Hey man, leave him alone. Get out of here." And the guy started swinging. I pushed the guy off, and then after that is pretty much when all hell broke loose. The rest of the guys in the car, there were five total, came out, including the driver, who was already out, surrounded us in a circle and took turns hitting us and kicking and saying, "You fucking deserve that, faggot." I just knew that I had to stay on my feet and fight back and not just curl up into a ball because I wanted to show them that no, we are men, and we do fight back. We are people, we do not deserve this. I protected my face, and they just kept on throwing punches and there was a guy in front, a guy in the back, a guy on the left, a guy on the right, they were just surrounding us.
They Knew What They Were Doing
BB: I felt like it was a planned assault. 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.
They knew exactly what they were doing; they went out on a mission that night. I felt like they were completely sober, I did not smell alcohol on their breath – they were that close. I just knew I had to keep standing; Christopher did as well. We just knew we had to keep standing until somebody got there.
They Did Nothing But Watch
BB: I looked up and there were 25+ people around us – doormen included, people I’ve seen at the bar numerous times – that did nothing, nothing to stop it. They did nothing but watch, nobody yelled, "Stop!" Three minutes into it, my best friend Matthew came out of the bar, saw what was going on and that I was involved, called 911, and yelled out, "The cops are coming!" The men retreated back into the car, all of them. "Write this down," I yelled. I just knew that I needed somebody to get that license plate number. I was in tunnel vision, adrenaline rushing, and I knew that I wasn’t going to remember. That was going to be my last saving grace to catch these guys.
AC: No one took photos or video?
BB: There were no pictures, there was no video, 20 plus people standing around and nobody took any video, no pictures. I was yelling, "License plate, please!" and nobody did anything.
AC: Did anyone respond when you asked why no one helped?
BB: No, nobody, nobody, nobody, I was disgusted, disgusted with people at that moment. Shame on the people that were there that didn’t try to stop it. Everybody was still in shock about what happened, and I understand that… No! I don’t understand that. I don’t understand why people did not help, They should have. It was the right thing to do, and I know that we were fighting for ourselves but they could have done more.
BB: A cop showed up. My friend Matthew ran into the middle of the road and told the cop, "They went down that way," to which the cop… I don’t know if he did or did not follow, but obviously he didn’t, because if he had, they would have been caught, because he saw the car leave.
The cops came up to us and just said, "Well, what happened? What caused them to do that to you? Why?" [here, Bobby begins to choke back emotion] Turning it around on us like it was our fucking fault, Kate! Seriously, you know me. I needed something to be done, so I said, "Listen! Stop asking me questions! I’m telling you descriptions! Follow them! Please follow them! They asked if I need medical attention I said, "No! Follow them! I need you to get them, that’s what I need right now!" And he’s like, "Well there’s nothing we can do right now. There’s no cameras, I’m sorry we can’t do anything for you right now." And then I was handed a case and his badge number number on a sheet of paper, and that’s it. I was frantic, I was crying, I was scared I wanted to get out of there. I just I remember yelling at people and saying, "You guys didn’t do anything! You watched this happen, and you didn’t do anything! Nothing. I go over this in my head every day, every minute. And for the life of me, I wish I could remember that license plate number. I really do.
Finally, Some Attention
BB: It wasn’t until about three days later that I got a call from the police department and I had two interviews with the KVUE and KXAN. KXAN did an amazing job at portraying what really happened it was a great interview. KVUE really just skewed the words and had them saying that we claimed to have that attack. 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!" No. absolutely not. Me responding to that is not bait, that’s defense, that’s not sitting in the corner and being quiet and okay with it. That’s showing them that no, I have a voice, and you’re going to hear it whether you like it or not. I’m gonna stand here, and I’m gonna fight you, and I’m not gonna run, and I’m not gonna hide.
Two witnesses did come forward recently and have given some information on the who, what, and why, and just today I had the meeting with the detective. It was a really good meeting. He said that he was sorry that I felt the police department did not handle it the way I thought it should have been handled. And I said, "No, it was not handled correctly and I’m still very upset about it."
Check later today for Part 2.