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Two men were holding hands while walking to their car in downtown Austin, Texas, when a group of men initiated an attack, the couple said, according to KTRK.
“We were holding hands as we were walking, just laughing and talking to each other,” Spencer Deehring said, according to the Houston Chronicle. The gay couple grew up near Houston, but now live in Austin.
Deerhing and his boyfriend, Tristan Perry, had just left a gay bar — Rain — “when they heard a man yell a homophobic slur as he was passing them,” the Austin American-Statesman reported. That was at about 2:30 a.m. Saturday.
“In the same breath that he’s yelling these expletives at us he looks over to his right and motions to group of four or five others who come out of nowhere,” Deehring said, according to FOX29.
The group then started attacking the two men, Deehring said, according to KTRK.
“My boyfriend and I were victims of a hate crime,” Deehring wrote in a GoFundMe for medical expenses. “We were called ‘faggots’ and brutally kicked & beaten.”
Police confirmed to the American-Statesman that the department is investigating the assault as a hate crime.
At one point during the attack, Deehring thought that the men had killed his boyfriend, he told FOX29. That was after they kicked Perry in the back of his head, he said.
“I thought he may be dead,” Deehring said, according to the American-Statesman. “My first instinct was to create some kind of diversion to get them away from him.”
Deehring told the Houston Chronicle that he charged at the man kicking his boyfriend, the newspaper reported.
In doing so, “he received several blows to the head and also fell to the ground,” according to the American-Statesman.
“Fortunately when a bystander saw what happened they were able to call 911 and we were able to get transported to a local medical center,” Deehring wrote in the GoFundMe post.
Both men were unconscious when the witness called for help, KTRK reported.
“I suffered a concussion and severe lacerations, my boyfriend suffered a broken nose, stitches in his forehead and a major concussion with minor internal bleeding,” Deehring wrote on the GoFundMe page. They are expected to “completely recover,” according to the Chronicle.
The couple has raised nearly $20,000 as of Thursday afternoon. The men had a $4,000 goal for medical expenses.
Police have not identified any suspects in the attack, KTRK reported.
“I hope that the attackers can find love in their hearts in the future to accept others for who they are no matter race religion gender sexuality hate doesn’t have anywhere to hide,” Deehring said, according to FOX29.
Rain on 4th — the nightclub the couple was leaving — has joined other bars to create a reward for information that leads to an arrest, according to the bar’s Facebook post. The reward is up to $11,000.
“For too long gay-bashings have threatened our community,” the post says. “Historically and still to this day establishments like ours have provided sanctuary and security from these incidents ... We will not stand by when our customers and community members are brutally assaulted simply for expressing their love.”