A gay couple was attacked in an apparent hate crime early Saturday morning in Austin, Texas.
Tristan Perry and Spencer Deehring were walking to their car around 2:45am after celebrating a friend’s birthday at Rain nightclub in downtown Austin.
The couple passed a man on the street who called them a homophobic slur. They told local news station KXAN they believe it was because they had been holding hands.
Deehring says he responded to the slur by saying something along the lines of “I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear you.”
At that point, Deehring says the man called out to his group of friends who were previously unseen. The mob began to follow the couple as they headed to their car.
The group began “yelling every expletive you can think of,” says Deehring, who told them, “I don’t have anything more to say to you guys, we’re just going home, leave us alone.”
And that’s when Perry was punched in the face suffering a broken nose and falling to the ground. While down, another in the group kicked Perry in the back of his head.
Deehring attempted to defend his boyfriend by tackling the men, but was knocked unconscious after being punched by members of the mob.
A bystander walking by may have saved their lives as the attackers fled upon being seen. The bystander called 911 and waited with the men until police and an ambulance arrived. Both men were hospitalized.
Perry was treated for a cut on the back of his head, a broken nose, chipped teeth, and multiple bruises. He continues to experience memory lapses.
Deehring suffered several lacerations, bruises to the back of his neck and head, and swelling to his jaw and mouth.
The president of the Austin chapter of PFLAG, Anna Nguyen, told KXAN that while she has seen violence targeting LGBTQ people in Austin in the past, “It feels as if lately the frequency has ratched up quite a bit.”
“I think Austin as a community needs to step up its game and prove it’s one of the most LGBTQIA-friendly cities in the country by deed, and not just by words,” she added.
Statistics released last November by the FBI show an increase of LGBT-related hate crimes in Texas when comparing data from 2016 to 2017.
The couple has launched a GoFundMe campaign to help defray the medical costs.
On the GoFundMe page, after explaining the attack that landed them in the hospital, they write:
Today I ask for your help with the burden we have been given of medical expenses related to this experience. Both of us were transported in an ambulance and given emergency trauma care at a local hospital. Due to this we expect our bills to exceed the thousands of dollars due to receiving comprehensive radiological care. And we ask for your love and support during our difficult time. Any help you can give is immensely appreciated. Always spread love and positivity. End hate.
They also shared their story on Facebook wanting people to realize attacks like this can happen to anyone.
Additionally, as a result of sharing the news of the attack, Deehring came out to his family and loved ones.
Grateful for the support they’ve received since the attack, the couple say they have a message for others.
"Spread love, end all this hatred, end all this closed-mindedness always watch your surroundings, always be aware of your surroundings, don't walk alone," says Perry.
And Deehring adds, “Be aware of your surroundings, but don't change who you are as a person, don't ever change who you are as a person and don't be afraid to go out there and explore the world, just as you are.”
Watch the report from KXAN below: