A gay couple was attacked in Northwest D.C.’s Shaw neighborhood on Sunday afternoon by two teenagers who allegedly called them “monkeypox f*****s” before assaulting them, resulting in a six-hour stay at a local emergency room.
Robert, 25, and Antonio, 23, say they were walking southward around 5:40 p.m. on 7th Street NW to the bus stop on Rhode Island Avenue NW, after a Sunday afternoon outing at Banneker Pool and the gay bar Kiki.
Robert was wearing a colorful Hawaiian shirt and Antonio a white crop top with a rainbow Polaroid logo.
They were about a block north of the Shaw/Howard University Metro stop when they encountered a group of young teenagers, about five males and two females, outside the Flavor Us Market.
From the pair’s demeanor and dress, the male teenagers guessed their orientation and began calling the two men “monkeypox f*****s” and making homophobic comments about them.
Robert and Antonio turned around to address them before deciding it wasn’t worth their while. One of the teens then approached them from behind, at which point Robert turned around — just in time to get sucker-punched by the teenager, with the blow striking him in the forehead.
As Robert fell to the ground, Antonio protested, but a second teenager came over and punched Antonio in the face. Robert struggled to get up, at which point, the first teenager struck him in the temple and broke his glasses.
An older female standing on a balcony overlooking the street called police to report the attack, leading the remaining males to flee the scene, with the primary assailants running northward on 7th Street, according to a Metropolitan Police Department incident report.
The two female teenagers walked south on 7th Street, stopping to apologize to the couple and say they thought the attack was wrong.
“I was kind of pissed and said something along the lines of ‘This is who you hang out with? That’s fucked up,'” Robert told Metro Weekly. “But one of them said their dad was gay and it was messed up that they attacked us. But I was still pretty pissed at the whole incident, so I let them pass.”
Police arrived on the scene within minutes, with the responding officer giving the couple a ride to the emergency room at Howard University Hospital, where they stayed for six hours while they were checked for concussions and Antonio received three stitches on his upper lip.
“I feel like the officers on the scene were nice, or at least pretty kind to us,” said Robert. “It was nice that they showed some shock and concern for our health. It was really nice that they took us to the E.R. so we didn’t have to pay for an ambulance.”
While at the hospital, the pair gave statements to police detectives investigating the assault.
From his recollection, Robert describes his assailant as an older teenager, about 5’9″ wearing black jeans, a black shirt, and a small bandage covering what looked like a cut on the right side of his face.
“I mainly feel shock that this could happen in D.C. in broad daylight, only three or four blocks from U Street, walking from a gay bar to public transit,” said Robert, who moved to the District in 2019.
“I’m sure more emotions will set in later,” he added. “Nothing like this had happened to me before, so I have no idea what it’s going to look like going forward, but it definitely will be a different feeling walking down the street for sure.”
Both men say they’ve experienced more homophobia in the District than they have in their home state of Texas.
“I’ve actually have had more experiences of homophobia the past couple of months than I have ever before, just this summer alone,” said Robert. “A few months ago, a friend of mine and I were on the Metro coming home on the Red Line from a pool party. And some guy told us not to — he just said some homophobic things to us, saying that where he was from, they ‘kill gay people’ or something along those lines.
“And then even as we were walking down 7th Street, just minutes before, someone shook his head at us and said, ‘That ain’t right,’ which I think was a reference to what Antonio was wearing, which was just a crop top. So yeah, it’s just kind of crazy that it seems like there’s been way more homophobia I’ve experienced before, even growing up in Texas.”
“There is more overt homophobia here,” added Antonio, who moved to the District in 2020. “There are more altercations on the street or verbal comments from random people versus at home.”
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