Metro Weekly

Police investigating hate crime attack after gay man beaten unconscious in San Diego park

Gersson Saavedra requires surgery after he was beaten unconscious in Cesar Chavez Park

gersson saavedra, gay, san diego, hate crime
Gersson Saavedra was brutally beaten for being gay — Photo: GoFundMe

Police in San Diego are investigating an attack in a park that left a gay man requiring surgery to his face.

Gersson Saavedra was beaten unconscious by two strangers while walking along the pier at Cesar Chavez park around 9:30 p.m. on Sept. 12.

Saavedra suffered a fractured nose, shattered eye socket, and injuries to his spinal cord during the attack, which is being investigated as an anti-gay hate crime.

Speaking to NBC San Diego, Saavedra said he fell behind his friends when two men approached him and asked him for a lighter.

While Saavedra remembers little of what followed, his friends told him that the men started yelling homophobic slurs, including “faggot.”

“By the time they like turned around, I was getting, you know, punched,” he said. “I was basically hitting the floor at that point.”

Saavedra was knocked unconscious during the attack, with his attackers fleeing the scene.

“First thing I remember when I woke on the hospital bed is that one of the doctors asked me if I was gay,” Saavedra said. “I was like, that’s such a weird question to ask, but I said of course. And he was like, ‘Okay, you were a victim of a hate crime.'”

He added: “You hear about these things like happening in the gay community, but you know, you can never kind of prepare or expect something like this to happen to you.”

San Diego Police confirmed to NBC San Diego that it was investigating the attack as a hate crime and has urged anyone with information to contact police.

The attack comes amid a rise in anti-gay hate crimes in California, according to the Attorney General’s office. Hate crimes rose 31% last year, with 15% of such crimes based on sexual orientation.

Saavedra’s sister has started a GoFundMe to cover his hospital expenses, with almost $13,000 in donations as of writing. He will also be required to take at least six weeks off work while he recovers from his injuries.

In the meantime, Saavedra is trying to keep a positive mindset.

“It’s easy to kind of blame yourself, think could have prevented this, maybe by being less of yourself, but I would definitely say don’t let anyone or even this type of situation dim your light,” he said. “Always, you know, just be yourself.”

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