Originally published: Friday, Oct. 12, 2012, 11:34 a.m.
Updated: Friday, Oct. 12, 2012, 1:24 p.m.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A local couple alleges they were victims of an anti-gay assault while they were on vacation in Asheville in late September.
Dustin Martin and Mark Little say they were leaving Scandals, a gay bar in downtown Asheville, and walking back to their hotel during the early morning of Sept. 23 when two young women began hurling anti-gay slurs at them from a passing car.
Martin told qnotes in an interview via phone on Friday that the young women began slowly following him and his partner as they tried to walk way. A bit further down the sidewalk and after being called “faggot” and other slurs “15 or 20 times,” Martin said, he eventually turned toward the vehicle and told the women to leave them alone.
Martin admits that he and Little were drinking that night and said he used profanity in his response to the women, who he thinks were also drinking. His response, Martin guessed, is what prompted a man, who they had not previously seen, to jump out of the backseat of the car. The man first attacked Martin, hitting him about four times in the chest and on his collar bone. Little, Martin said, attempted to stop the man who turned around and punched Little in the face.
Neither Martin nor Little received serious injuries and neither were taken to the hospital.
Local news stations report that Asheville police are still investigating the assault and that no arrests have been made. A call to an Asheville detective handling the case was unreturned at the time of this article’s publication.
Sexual orientation and gender identity are not protected classes in state hate crime laws, though a federal law passed in 2009 protects LGBT victims of hate crimes. Local authorities must request federal assistance before federal hate crime charges can be considered.
Martin and Little say the nature of the attack has hurt the most. “I would rather be mugged,” Martin told local news station WCNC. “Your pride is taken when you are hit because you like other men.”
The young women and man, Martin feels, were looking for a fight.
“We both had the impression that this was something they knew they were going to do,” Martin told qnotes. “They were asking for a response. They were wanting to get a rise out of somebody. You just don’t slow down your car and start calling someone a ‘faggot’ for no reason.”
Stay tuned for more updates on this developing story.