The problems along Oxford St seem to be getting worse. No sooner had I sent my column in last week than I was contacted by another friend who had also been mugged.
I quickly got a detailed report. It seems my friend was pushed to the ground by two guys, his phone and wallet ripped out of his hands. As he was being punched, kicked and spat on by these two thugs, they verbally assaulted him, calling him a dirty fag and a fucking faggot throughout the entire attack. When the pair ran off, he was left lying on the ground in pain and a pool of blood.
What’s more shocking is all of this took place just metres from Oxford Street’s more popular and buzzing gay clubs.
And by all reports the violence is spreading to that other ghetto of gay fabulousness – the inner west. Granted, the incidents I have heard of are not as frequent as on Oxford St, but the target is still the same and actions similar.
But when I asked my battered and bruised friend if he had reported the incident, he said he hadn’t. When I asked why, he said he didn’t think the police would do anything.
So, is my friend right to not bother? Should he just cut his losses and consider himself lucky he escaped with his life?
Of course, I have heard the gossip about gay boys and girls who reportedly made the trek to Surry Hills police station after such an attack, only to be met with an indifferent constable who jotted down a couple of notes and seemed not to care. Others say they spent hours on end sitting in an uncomfortable chair waiting to actually report what had just happened, only to lose patience and walk away without making the complaint.
I don’t know if these stories are true or urban myths, but reporting a crime is the single most important step in the process. If we don’t go through these correct channels, show some patience and actually report what’s happening, then we can’t blame the police and governments for not acting on them.
But I would also ask our venues to get involved. One thing that strikes me about venues I have visited in other countries is that you always know – long before you walk in the door – that they are gay. Giant rainbow flags fly proudly at the entrance.
It would be an amazing sight to see Oxford St and King St ablaze with rainbow flags as a gentle but clear way of telling the wider community that these are proudly gay-friendly areas, and anti-social behaviour of any kind from anyone is not welcome.
Of course it is not a total answer, but it is a step along the long road we must travel to reclaim our favourite strips and an in-your-face way of telling the broader community that we are here to stay.
Please report all incidents to police or the Anti-Violence Project, 9206 2116.