For Gay Community, Rise in Bashing Isn’t a Question of ‘If.’ It’s a Question of ‘Why’

It’s a shame that steroid saturated, sexist homophobes are invading every major city in the world and their hate is spilling out into the streets. It’s happened several times in the Village in New York this year, it’s happening in Russia and it’s happening right here on Capitol Hill in Seattle.

So writes Jeromy Carpenter beneath a YouTube video showing a fight outside Q Nightclub Saturday night.

According to the video’s creators, the fight came after homophobic slurs like “fucking dykes” were shouted just before the melee broke out, and serves as just the latest exhibit in what some LGBT advocates say is a troubling trend: Capitol Hill becoming dangerous for gays and lesbians.

On Aug. 5, a volunteer for Sen. Ed Murray’s mayoral campaign was attacked on Capitol Hill. Jason Jacobs (pictured to the right) told police the group of three men and two women hurled homophobic slurs at him before the attack, which left him with a broken nose.

In May, five men were arrested on suspicion of committing a hate crime after police found probable cause that they attacked a man on East Pike Street because of his race and sexual orientation.

“I’m hearing from my staff: Be careful,” says Louise Chernin, CEO of the Great Seattle Business Association, a trade organization that represents businesses owned by gays and lesbians. “In the LGBT community, we get complacent, especially in Seattle, and we sometimes forget that we still are a somewhat vulnerable population. All minorities are a vulnerable population.”

Murray has made gay-bashing a campaign issue, saying in his primary victory speech last Tuesday that it’s becoming a major problem in Seattle.

“We can’t go back to the 1980s,” he told the crowd at the Crocodile.

After the speech, when asked whether he felt the city was being soft on gay bashing, Murray said only “it’s an issue we’ve taken our eye off of.”

Robert Cruickshank, a spokesman for Mayor Mike McGinn, said the city takes reports of hate crimes very seriously and says the precinct that covers Capitol Hill “is working with the community to address concerns over hate crimes.”

Asked whether hate crimes were a growing issue in Seattle, Cruickshank deferred to the Seattle Police Department to address the stats.

A request for that data has been submitted, but amongst the gay community, the verdict seems to be in, and the question has become not if but why.

“There is talk in the community about this sort of thing being backlash for Ref-74,” one person wrote last week on Reddit, in response to news of Jacobs’ attack. “There are thugs coming from other locations to Capital Hill [sic] to gay bash.

“What ever it is, there has been an increase of antigay violence on the Hill this last year.”

Meanwhile, Chernin suggests that it’s a mental health issue.

“I don’t think it’s the new people who are coming to the Hill, but people who need social services. People who are mentally ill,” she said. “The quantity of people who are mentally ill and are homeless are increasing, and we all pay the price for that.”

And, she warns that if not addressed, the trend could have a negative impact on Seattle’s economy.

Her group just opened a gay and lesbian visitor center, meant to welcome LGBT travelers to the city.

“Word starts to spread. There have been a number of people being assaulted,” she said.

 
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