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Aviance leaves

Aviance leaves

Gay performance artist Kevin Aviance was released from the hospital on Monday after suffering a beating that rights advocates said was a reminder of the hate crimes gays still face, even in New York City.

"Kevin is in a lot of pain, mentally and physically. He faces a long road to recovery," his lawyer, Jay Sanchez, said after Aviance was wheeled out of the hospital, his jaw wired shut and his leg in a brace. "We all know it's happening out there all the time," Sanchez said of violence against gays.

Aviance could not speak for himself because of his injuries, but he formed the words "thank you" with his lips to the media. He wore large sunglasses and a rainbow-colored sleeve.

Four males have been arrested on suspicion of hate-crime assault, in which the chart-topping singer and so-called "underground freak" performing artist was attacked upon walking home from a bar early on Saturday morning. The assailants have been identified as Gregory Archie, 18; Akino George, 20; Jarell Sears, 20; and a 16-year-old. They yelled "Kill the faggot" and other epithets during the beating, said Len Evans, Aviance's publicist.

New York police have reported 22 antigay bias crimes so far this year compared with 17 for the same date a year ago.

Gay sources said it was particularly shocking that the attack occurred in the East Village--one of the most gay-friendly neighborhoods in generally tolerant New York.

Aviance, with three Billboard number 1 dance music singles to his credit as a vocalist, was described by Evans as "Missy Elliott meets Grace Jones." The artist also lists Boy George and David Bowie as his influences.

Now he will have his jaw wired shut for 2 1/2 weeks, at the height of Gay Pride Month. He still hopes to participate in the pride parade on June 25.

"He said it feels like someone pulled your soul out," Evans said. "This was his month to shine. He made people feel proud to be gay, to walk the streets, and to feel comfortable in their own skin. That was taken away from him."

The executive director of the New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project said gays are particularly vulnerable during Gay Pride Month when "we are so visible as a community, which can fuel the ire of those folks that hate us."

At roughly the same time as Aviance was beaten, three gay men were attacked by seven or eight men in the working-class neighborhood of Astoria, Queens, Patton said. (Daniel Trotta, Reuters)

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