After hearing that the police released photos of the suspects in the assault against the gay man in the West End on May 2, I began to wonder how often straight men report assaults that may be homophobic in nature.
One of my sister's ex-boyfriends lived in the West End. He had told me that there had been a few times he had experienced verbal assaults by guys looking to beat up gays, simply because he was in the West End.
One time he was driving in his car when he happened to look over at a group of guys driving in a jeep. They started calling him a fag, then stopped their jeep and tried to surround his vehicle at a stop sign. Luckily, he managed to get away.
I'd say that there is nothing about his physical appearance that would make homophobes jump to the mistaken conclusion that he was gay.
I have been yelled at twice in the West End. Once I was running along Beach Avenue in some ugly shorts when a guy in a truck rolled down his window and yelled out "Faggot!"
Another time, a guy came out of the bar as I was walking along. "All these damn fags down here," he growled when he saw me.
But I wondered how many straight guys have ended up in physical altercations with similar anti-gay sentiments that have gone unreported.
For instance, I wonder if a gay man may be more likely to report being egged, accompanied a homophobic verbal assault, whereas a straight guy may shrug it off, and also perhaps be embarassed to be mistaken and attacked as "gay"?
If there are straight men (or even straight women) who have been assaulted in some sort of homophobic-based attack, I would urge them to include those details in any police reports so that police can be aware of these types of hate crimes.
Some guys may not report an attack they think is minor, but if it involves some sort of discriminatory nature, if it is reported, there might be a better chance it can be dealt with so that it doesn't happen again to someone in a more vulnerable situation.
You may end up saving someone's life.