Anti-gay attack reported on 4th Street in Austin

Bobby Beltran is shown after the attack.

A 26-year-old gay man says he and a friend were the victims of a hate crime outside the bars on 4th Street in downtown Austin early Sunday morning.

Bobby Beltran said he and his friend had just left Rain, a gay bar, at about 1:30 a.m. When they hugged each other goodbye on the sidewalk, some men in a passing vehicle yelled, “Fucking faggots, stop that queer shit!”

After Beltran yelled at the men to “get out of here,” all five of them jumped out of the vehicle and attacked him and his friend. Beltran said he fought back but suffered cuts and bruises and a black eye. His friend may have suffered a broken jaw. The attackers quickly jumped back in the vehicle, which was parked in the middle of the street, and drove off.

“I’ve never in my life been in any kind of violent situation, especially a hate crime, so it’s been pretty traumatic,” Beltran said. “Austin is supposed to be a gay haven, especially on 4th Street. What scares me even more is that nobody even helped.”

Beltran, an activist who helped organize this year’s QueerBomb in Austin, said it was at least the third anti-gay hate crime in the city this year. In a high-profile case in February, two gay softball players were attacked near Austin City Hall.

“I’m just trying to get the word out there that this is going on in Austin and it’s not safe right now,” Beltran said. “I come from Brownsville, Texas. Even down there I was out since I was 13, and I never got picked on in high school. To find out that it’s here in Austin on 4th Street, and knowing that fellow gay men were not doing anything about it, is just shocking.”

Beltran said the police responded and took a report but didn’t seem too concerned about the crime and haven’t contacted him since then.

He said the attack lasted for about three minutes and was witnessed by at least 20 people, but none of them tried to help. Beltran said he yelled out the license plate of the vehicle as he ran after the attackers, but no one wrote it down and he doesn’t remember it.

“It was the most unsafe I’ve ever felt in my entire life, knowing that not even my community stood up,” Beltran said. “I’m so afraid to go back down there.”

Beltran described the five attackers as three black males, one Hispanic male and one white male. He said the vehicle was an older-model gold Chevrolet that was low to the ground and had fancy rims.

Witnesses are asked to call the Austin Police Department at 512-974-5000.

—  John Wright