A gay man in San Diego is recovering after two men allegedly yelled homophobic slurs, beat him, and knocked him unconscious, resulting in spinal injuries.
Gersson Saavedra told station KNSD TV that he doesn't remember much about the attack on the night of September 12, but he and a couple of friends were at a pier near Cesar Chavez Park in Barrio Logan.
"When we were leaving the event I fell behind my friends, Martin and Sunny," Saavedra said. His friends later told him that two men then approached him. "My friend said that these two guys asked me for a lighter." Then the attack started.
The friends said the men were yelling homophobic profanities during the beating.
"By the time they like turned around, I was getting, you know, punched," Saavedra said. "I was basically hitting the floor at that point."
The assailants then disappeared.
"First thing I remember when I woke on the hospital bed is that one of the doctors asked me if I was gay," Saavedra told KNSD. "I was like, that's such a weird question to ask, but I said of course. And he was like, 'OK, you were a victim of a hate crime.'"
Saavedra suffered an injury to his spine, a broken nose, fractured eye socket.
"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," he said.
Saavedra will have several surgeries in the upcoming weeks. His family has set up a GoFundMe to ease the costs of medical bills.
San Diego police are investigating the attack as a hate crime.
Saavedra told the outlet that others who have been victims of hate crimes should still be proud of who they are.
"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."