TWO men who were allegedly attacked in Sydney last week by a homophobic Donald Trump supporter have said they were shocked something like this would happen in 2016.
Sam and Andrew* were in line at a McDonalds close to Newtown early on Monday morning when a young and intoxicated man started aggressively rambling about newly-elected U.S. President Donald Trump.
“Andrew was lovely and very protective of me, he tried to encourage me to stay away from him.
“But I turned around to the guy and said ‘I’m gay – do you have a problem with that?’ and with that he went off.”
After being informed that the pair were gay, the young man amended his original line and started saying ‘Trump’s won, straight white men rule’.
The man’s friends then had to restrain him as he tried to aggressively get over the top of them while pointing and shouting at the pair.
His friends eventually dragged him out of the restaurant, leaving Sam and Andrew shaken.
They grabbed their food to take away and planned to head straight home, but the young, aggressive man was waiting as they left the restaurant.
“I couldn’t believe it, he’d been waiting outside to pounce on me,” Sam said.
“He hit me on the head, and because I’m a pretty big guy, I went down hard – immediately there was blood everywhere.
“He kept mouthing off, but when he hit my head things went a bit blurry from that point.”
Andrew said he had been looking at his phone to book a ride home when he saw Sam go flying against the wall.
“I looked up and he was bleeding all over his face,” he said.
“I quickly assessed him and could see that he was moving and blinking, so I knew he was okay in that moment.
“Then as I turned around he king hit me in the face. I didn’t fall over, but as I realised what had happened he struck me again with a piece of glass I think, as it cut my skin and I was bleeding.”
In an attempt to protect himself and Sam from the man, Andrew then fought back, i who he says looked like he wanted to ‘kill’ the pair.
“I was trying to protect Sam because I knew he wasn’t capable of looking after himself, he was on the ground,” he said.
“When I fought back I didn’t feel so defeated in a way, I remember thinking to myself there are so many LGBTI people that have been killed by people like this, and I almost wanted to hit him back for those people.”
The perpetrator’s friends then dragged him away down the street, however the Newtown Police arrived in time to catch them before they ran away.
Sam was then taken to the hospital in an ambulance, and Andrew was taken to the police station to give his statement to Senior Constable Sites.
Both men said the staff at McDonalds and the Newtown Police were fantastic in responding to the crisis. The police told Andrew they had the CCTV footage which was enough evidence, and that the perpetrator had been charged and would face court in a couple of weeks.
A spokesperson for the NSW Police confirmed two men had been charged with assault and affray offences following the incident.
“Officers from Newtown LAC attended and arrested two men, aged 21 and 18, who have since been charged,” they said.
“As this case is now before the court, it is inappropriate we provide further information.
“If any person feels threatened or fears for their safety, we would encourage them to contact police immediately.”
Sam said he wants his experience to serve as a warning to other members of the LGBTI community.
“Don’t just assume it’s 2016 and everything’s okay, because clearly what’s happening in the world is affecting people’s judgement and mentality,” he said.
“I think in the LGBTI community we need to check in with each other and make sure we talk more about these things.”
He added that there should be more measures in place to ensure LGBTI people know what to do if they find themselves in a similar situation.
“I’ve been out in the community for over 20 years and even though I know how to operate in the gay community I honestly feel like there should be a course,” he said.
“For instance, teaching us what to do if someone is spouting homophobic abuse, or if someone is trying to attack you.”
Andrew agreed that the community should have more opportunities to be trained in these areas.
“Even yesterday I was thinking maybe I should go back to the gym and do boxing classes, I think people need to know how to look after themselves – whether it be diffusing situations verbally or just knowing how to read the signs,” he said
“We need unity as a community too, we do need to look out for each other and when someone is in trouble help them.
“If you fight back when anyone tries to intimidate or threaten you, they’re not as big and brave as they try to come across.”
He added that he was shocked that he experienced the assault in 2016.
“When you’re hearing that 72 per cent of the population want marriage equality, but we’re still getting bashed, it’s horrific,” he said.
“It was an argument about politics that escalated and became vicious and that’s what made me so angry.
“We all have to be aware that there are these inflammatory conversations now and issues affecting the world we live in, and it’s best to get away from it and not engage with it.”
Despite going through what could be a traumatising experience, Sam said he wanted to speak up to help protect other members of the LGBTI community.
“I am scared but I also need to stand up because it’s not just about me, it’s about our community,” he said.
Newtown Police have been contacted for comment.
* Sam and Andrew’s names have been changed to protect their privacy