Thomas Banks, Melbourne-based gay writer and actor living with cerebral palsy was beaten and robbed in a vicious attack in Footscray on Tuesday.
Warning: This story has details and visuals of a brutal attack and might be distressing to some readers. For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.
‘They Punched Me And Stole My Belongings’
Banks told Star Observer that he had stepped out on Tuesday night to meet a guy he connected on Grindr.
“It was a lovely night so I thought it was safe to walk through the streets of Footscray and Seddon to get home,” said Banks. Banks said he had stopped at a bus stop to catch his breath and was approached by around five men.
“They then punched me and stole my belongings,” Banks said.
In a post on Facebook, Banks detailed the attack. “During the assault, I held my head down and let them hit me. But, then they tried to steal my bag and that was when I fought back.”
According to Banks, the assailants didn’t expect him to put up a fight. “I’m super proud of how I carried myself in that moment. I stayed calm, looked at the ground and stayed focused. They didn’t expect that I was feisty and they got a shock,” Banks said in the post.
One of the assailants asked Banks for the code to unlock his phone and when he refused to divulge it, they hit him again before running off with his belongings.
No Evidence Of Homophobia
Banks’ who is well known in the LGBTQI community for his advocacy around sexuality and disability rights, doesn’t believe that homophobia was the motivation behind the attack.
“I believe this attack wasn’t to do with my homosexuality. I feel like I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Banks said in an email interview.
“I’ve had a lot of community support after this incident. The community has really held my hand while I’m recovering and I really appreciate it. I’m always out and about in the community and generally I feel safe being out at night. It’s just a shitty thing to go through, but I appreciate the love and support.”
While he is taking the time to rest and recover from the attack, Banks urged the police “to do more patrolling at night, especially around quiet streets.”
The attack has not however dented his spirits. “My message to the community is to be safe because there are horrible people out there. But don’t stop living your life,” Banks said.
Star Observer has reached out to Victoria Police about the status of investigations and will update the story when they respond.
If you feel distressed reading the story, you can reach out to support services.
For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14
For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.