Anatomy of a Gay Bashing, Part 2
More of the story of the Christmas night gay bashing
By Kate X Messer,
10:30PM, 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 2 of that interview.
How Are You Now?
Austin Chronicle: How did the attack effect you physically?
Bobby Beltran: Physically, the first day, it was not pretty. I immediately took a snap shot of my face and posted it on Facebook because I wanted to show everybody what happened to me before any of the swelling or bruising went down. I just wanted to go home with my friends and go to bed. Surprisingly, I woke up the next morning and I had forgotten it kinda happened for just a split second and then I felt this pain all over my body and my face. There is pain in my face; my whole left side was swollen. Luckily, my friend had iced it that night, so it wasn’t extremely swollen. Now, everything has pretty much gone down. There’s a little swelling here above my eyebrow and my cheekbone is feeling pretty tender, the left side of my bottom jaw is hurt all inside my cheek is all cut up from where they were hitting and the check was scratching up against my teeth so it’s all cut up, it’s still healing.
It still hurts me to smile.I’m in the service industry, and I have to smile. I have to go to work and put on a face. I’m fine with that. I want to be professional and move on, but it’s always going to be there. Every time I smile, it hurts and brings me back to the moment, My back is really out of whack right now. I have scratches all along my legs, scrapes, from where they were kicking, I had jeans on that night. Luckily, I had layers on because it was pretty cold that night, so the punches were kinda padded by what I was wearing – a jacket and a coat. The worst part of it all: It just hurts me to smile, and I hate it I hate it, because I love to smile and just have a good time.
AC: Are you feeling any pain moving at all?
BB: Not so much moving. It’s mostly in my back, on my side – just pain, no limping. I would say I’m one tough cookie.
AC: Did you get any medical attention at all?
BB: I have not received any medical attention. I've had some bad bike falls in the past, and I’ve grown this thick skin. I think that maybe my body’s also not focused so much on the hurt that my body is having. Instead, I’m focused on catching and stopping these men, these people that are doing this.
I’ve put a numbness to my body. I’m not really focusing on it, because I’m so focused on really wanting this to stop in our community. I’m really taking care of myself. I got a lot of bedrest the next day. I just laid in bed, iced my face. That’s why I’m not hurting so much now. But yeah, any kind of little pain I have, any little sharp pain just brings me back to the memory of that day.
AC: Have you been in touch with Chris? Have you two been talking about this and how is he doing?
BB: We have been in contact every day since then. I can’t speak on his behalf. He can speak for himself. But it’s been quite a journey for him, emotionally, and he’s one strong individual. One amazingly strong individual, whom I look up to. Just coming out of the closet and having to deal with this, fresh, brand new. And for him to actually go on the news, and stand up for what’s right, and stand there right next to me and say, this is what happened and it’s not right, I admire that beyond words. So yes, we do talk every day, and we are in this together. He actually has his interview with the detective tomorrow, so, we’re not going down without a fight.
AC: Did APD refer you to any victims’ services or did any one offer you any names of places of where to go for help?
BB: No, I never thought about that. I’ve been trying to counsel and console myself and getting the support off of Facebook from hundreds of people across Texas and a lot of people across the U.S. But nobody offered me – none of the cops, not the detective, wow, that’s a new thought… I need it. I know I need it. Just the fact that it wasn’t even offered, wow.
The support that I have gotten is from messages on Facebook on my page and in my mail is the support I’ve been getting from people I don’t even know. And I appreciate that so much. It’s really really helped. To those all those people out there: Really, thank you so much. It’s incredible. And I’m grateful and very blessed to have so many people be on my side but obviously, I need more than that. More than physical damage, emotionally, I’m not okay. I’m not okay. I cannot believe victims' support was never offered, never. And I even said to them, "I’m going through a tough time right now, very tough."
What Would You Say To Them?
AC: If were sitting next to one of them right now, in a calm moment, what would you say to them? Is there one in particular you would call out?
BB: I’d call out to all of them, and say, "Why did you do this? What made you do this?" I mean, we all have flaws in our lives. We all go through a lot of different things. We all have some kind of anger towards something. I understand that; we’re human beings. I’d ask them "Why?" And I’m not saying this to be the positive person or whatever… I’m saying this because this is really me talking from my heart.
I would want to say, "How can we help you to overcome this? What are you battling in your life right now?" Because I’m fighting a battle just as well as you are. Yours might be internal but now, mine is external, it’s on the news, it’s out there. But what can I do to help, so this does not happen again? And you can educate other people on this. I’m talking like this, Kate, from my heart, whole heartedly."Why?" I would ask them, "Why?"
If I was a bystander and that was happening to somebody else on the street, you bet your ass I’m gonna go in there and help, and call and make a scene and record. That’s the way I was raised; that’s the way I was taught. And they may be having deeper issues that I have no awareness of, but that doesn’t make it all right for them to do that.
Like I said I would ask them why did you do this? I would look them straight in the eye and say why? Tell me why, me. Why would you yell those things? Are you insecure within yourself? Are you battling sexuality deep down inside? Is that what it is? Were you abused or molested at some time? I was. Growing up as a kid, I was molested. Did that make me gay? No, I’ve always been gay. But I would want to help people like that, because honestly, that behavior is cowardly, and they’re battling something way deep inside that we don’t even understand.
The Media Aftermath
AC: Talk to me about looking for your piece in the Statesman
BB: Well, I was first told by a fellow friend that it was inside today, in the Statesman. I opened it up and was flipping through pages. I went through this whole newspaper and did not see anything until I really looked under Metro & State under Local Briefing, second page, B2, to be exact, under Central Texas Digest, second article: "Two men attacked downtown." I had pretty much 30-45 minutes of talking with a reporter, and it’s really shocking that there’s nothing but six paragraphs. And it’s depressing. It’s revolting, and it really pisses me off that it’s just such a big issue, but yet, it’s just such a small article. To the naked eye, you really have to look for it. And not even a headline. On the front of Metro & State, I see "Going foul: chicken and waffles heist over quickly." Ridiculous. It’s out of control. It puts a foul taste in my mouth.
I feel like this keeps on going on, and that it’s always put on the back burner, and it’s never going to be a front page deal, whether we were hurt or whether we were not – unless somebody is dead. Is that what it’s going to take? I mean obviously, it just keeps on being pushed back and pushed back. Nobody cares – that’s the way I feel, and that’s the way I felt that night.
Tell Us What You Need
AC: You’re in a unique position to tell the community what you need, personally, you, Bobby, but also what you need as a member of this community. Tell us.
BB: What I need for myself from the community is a promise: To be there for each other as a community. Austin has a name for itself, I don’t want to lose that. We’re together in this, in whatever Austin has that is positive. We are in this as a community and we really need to do more. I understand rallies and protests are great, but it’s not enough.
Be a part of the community. If something is wrong. If something's going on, there’s a fight: Be aware and react immediately. Ask questions to the local officials, elected officials at that, people that will do something and not just put it on the back burner. It could have been anybody – two straight males hugging, saying, "Hey man, nice seeing you over Christmas! See you later!" This isn’t just because we were on Fourth Street, and we’re labeled as gay. This could have been anybody – your brother your father, anybody.
We have name in Austin. We have brand new people coming here every single day, and we need to show them that we don’t stand for this. Or we cannot continue to tell people Austin is really nice and really safe and so accepting, because when this happens and it continues to happen, we can not say that anymore. And I refuse to let Austin become a city that is not tolerant.
I thought about this today I was walking, close to where I live – in a very highly populated area. I am afraid to walk alone right now. I was thinking: What more can I do to make people aware? and I really want to start a campaign: A "I’m a victim of a hate crime" T-shirt or something. Not to sell for me, but just to put the word out there. I’ve seen the "I am positive HIV" shirts out there. I haven’t really seen anything about a hate crime. Yet, now, I am a victim of a hate crime. I would love for the community to get together and give each other and me ideas on what we could do to grow instead of just protesting and rallying, we need to do more than that.