Austin, Texas made news last week.
Unfortunately, people weren't talking about Longhorn athletics for once.
Early Saturday morning, two members of the Shady Ladies softball team (whose male members identify as gay) were returning to their car after celebrating the start of the softball season at OCH on 4th. OilCan Harry's is just one of Austin's happening gay night clubs located in the downtown area. Before Matthew and Emmanuel could safely make it back to their car, four men who had followed them from the club jumped out and physically assaulted the two players, all the while making profane and homophobic slurs. Matt and Emmanuel were able to fend off the attackers and contact the police who began to search the area immediately for their assailants.
Although the attackers have not been identified (it may be possible that they do not even live in Austin), I believe that their actions were intended to serve as a message to these two players and the LGBT community: your kind is not welcome here.
I'm sad to say that it took this hate crime which happened, literally, a couple of blocks from where I was to put everything into perspective.
What do I mean by this exactly?
I was downtown that night.
I didn't happen to make it down to 4th street, but I did two weeks ago. My good friend was having a great time at Rain, another gay bar located right next to OCH. I knew a few people who were going to check out Sister's Edge II, a new lesbian bar which is also downtown.
What happened to Matthew and Emmanuel could've happened to me, my friends, any straight or LGBTQ-identified person who walked out of OCH, or Rain, or any other LGBT friendly establishment that night. Some may argue that they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. If this was the case then the scores of people who frequent these bars every week (straight AND LGBT) need to look over their shoulder every time they walk out.
These four men are sadly mistaken if they thought that their hateful actions would resonate within the minds of Austinite's and scare us from enjoying fun, inclusive, and safe spaces. Austin is by no means perfect, but I think that the city is definitely taking the necessary steps to ensure the safety for all of it's residents. I was surprised to find out that APD quickly responded to the scene after the attack and are continuing to investigate any leads that would lead to the capture of Matt's and Emmanuels attackers.
Here is the video that aired on KXAN
And if you don't already know: A march is planned Saturday afternoon in downtown Austin in response to an anti-gay hate crime that occurred there last weekend. The march will go from Oilcan Harry’s, a gay bar on Fourth Street, to Austin City Hall.