Late Monday afternoon, I was quietly doing my yoga practices on the beach near the skate park when I was verbally assaulted by a by two men I had never seen before. I was 50 feet away, had no interaction with them whatsoever, and never said a single word to them, but they decided to attack me for being gay. For 20 minutes, surrounded by a mixed group of white and Latino youths, they screamed insults at me which boiled down to “F—ng faggot. Go back to San Francisco, or we’ll come over there and kill you!”
I continued to do my yoga practices, but they came over, got in my face, and threatened to punch me if I didn’t get off the beach. They screamed insult after insult about gay people not belonging in Santa Barbara as they followed me to the bike path. On the bike path I pleaded with people passing by for a cell phone, and no one would help me. While two men loudly screamed hate-crime epithets in my face and I begged for help, not a single person was willing to stop and help or lend me a phone. Many people actually on their phones just shook their head, kept talking, and hurried by while my assailants screamed, “That’s right! Don’t give the f–ng faggot a phone!”
I finally saw a classmate from yoga, and he bravely stepped in and distracted my attackers, enabling me to escape. I am grateful for his help, sickened by the level of vicious hatred of homophobia, angered that the skate park and surrounding area have become a dangerous place, and completely disgusted that so many people hurried by a fellow citizen in distress and refused to help.