Early Sunday morning, 26-year-old gay man Bobby Beltran was leaving Austin’s Rain gay bar when a car full of men shouted “Fucking faggots, stop that queer shit!” as he hugged his friend goodbye.
As the Dallas Voice reports, when Bobby yelled back to the car, “get out of here!” five men jumped out and attacked him and his friend, leaving Bobby with cuts, bruises and a black eye and his friend with a possible broken jaw. A story like this is always alarming – especially when it occurs in a primarily gay neighborhood like Austin’s 4th Street or Washington D.C.’s Dupont Circle, as we’ve reported on before. But what strikes us as particularly disconcerting is that there were as many as 20 witnesses that observed the brutal 5-on-2 beating and didn’t so much as call 9-1-1.
I know it’s frightening to see that sort of thing happen, but we cannot stand by and watch as our own are beaten to the ground by anti-gay bigots and hoodlums. In many parts of the country, the police tend to turn a blind eye when it comes to hate crimes, hell – it’s even happened frequently here in New York City, but if we want something to change, we need to be the force that changes it – no one will do it for us.
This reminds me of the story of murder of Kitty Genovese. She was murdered in plain view of 38 neighbors – none of whom called the police (or at least that’s what the media presented). Turns out there were several other factors not considered by the initial reports of complacent neighbors. Kitty Genovese Syndrome or “The Bystander Effect” as it is called by social psychologists describes our sometime inability to involve
ourselves with our surroundings, especially in times of great trauma.
We cannot let ourselves fall prey to Kitty Genovese Syndrome – we MUST protect our own when we need protecting. Realize that even in our neighborhoods, we are not always safe. Travel accompanied by others and as they say, “if you see something, say something.” If we don’t stand up for one another, who will?