In New York’s Chelsea neighborhood this week, a gay couple was the victim of a violent gay bashing — that started with an accidentally spilled drink. (Eyewitness video screen capture)
On Tuesday, May 7, in the most LGBTQ-friendly neighborhood in New York City, a gay couple was assaulted at the Dallas BBQ on 261 Eighth Avenue at W. 23rd Street. Jonathan Snipes, 32, has cuts all over his head. A tooth was knocked loose, and the cartilage in his ear was damaged during the beating, according to DNAinfo New York.
I have lived on the same block as Dallas BBQ since 1994 and have always felt safe. Gay bashing is rare here, thank goodness. My building, Chelsea Gardens, is full of diversity and sits within a warm, welcoming neighborhood. That’s what makes this violent incident especially jarring.
The fight broke out at 11 p.m. when Snipes received a text about a death in his family and had to leave the restaurant quickly. When he stood up, he accidentally knocked over a drink at a table where two large men — one is 6-foot 4 inches — were seated. Snipes is only 140 pounds and didn’t stand a chance. One of the men knocked Snipes to the ground and began kicking his face and back.
“Take that, faggot,” he shouted.
Snipes’ boyfriend, Ethan York-Adams, 25, tried to shield Snipes, but was unable to block the vicious blow of a wooden chair that bashed into both of their heads. York-Adams was knocked to the floor, and Snipes fell back in his chair, stunned. They’d been out for margaritas to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.
“They hit us hard and then they wouldn’t stop,” Snipes told DNAinfo. “I was hobbling away and they came and attacked us again.”
The attackers fled the scene as the couple awaited police and medical crews, police said. At the time of this posting, the attackers had not been arrested.
V.V. with his dogs Max and Mia. (Photo by Dorri Olds)
Esteban Monsalve and his dog Leo. (Photo by Dorri Olds)
The morning after the attack, I spoke to some folks who live right near the BBQ. V.V. was out walking his dogs, Bijon Max and Shih Tzu Mia. V.V. lives with the dogs and his husband a block from the restaurant. He left Serbia two years ago, and when I asked why he’d left, he replied, “[For] being gay. In Serbia, I had a lot of problems. I had a lot of threats, and people made a Facebook page about hating me. I was a teacher’s assistant in a state university. Students make statements like, ‘Oh my God, if I ever get bad grades I will break every single bone in his body. Now I live here, and I’m happy.”
I asked how his family felt about him moving so far away. “My mother, she was very sad, but in another hand, she told me, ‘I will finally be able to sleep. I know you will be safe there and I don’t need to worry,’” V.V. shared. “My partner and I got married two months ago, and my mother came for wedding!’”
I stopped another man, Esteban Monsalve, who is a trainer at the Equinox Gym and was out early walking his dog, a chocolate Labrador name Leo. Last week, Monsalve and his husband moved to an apartment building only a couple doors from Dallas BBQ.
“We moved here because it is supposed to be a safe neighborhood,” he said. “This news is such a shame. I mean, here we are in New York where this kind of thing should not be happening.”
Watch the video of the incident (Warning: It contains graphic content):