UPDATE: Arrest made in NYC anti-gay assault of Shampoo Party Promoter
At last, there’s good news to report on the New York City gay-assault front.
The Associated Press reported yesterday that the New York Police Department has made an arrest in the case of a brutal beating of Shampoo party promoter, Dan Contarino, as G Philly reported on earlier this week.
The suspect is Gornell Roman, who has been charged with assault and aggravated harrassment, both of which have been marked as hate crimes. According to the AP report, the two had been staying at an East Village homeless shelter when the attack occurred.
I caught up with Contarino to get his side of the story, and how he’s handling the whole thing.
“He caught me off guard,” he says. “This guy had problems, and he snapped. And I didn’t know it — I didn’t know this guy well at all. I tried to help him out, and [he later said] he didn’t have any memory of the attack at all. … With the gay marriage debate going on, you have people suppressing issues — family backgrounds, etc., and you’ve got a new generation and an old generation clashing right now over old beliefs and new beliefs.”
Contarino has spent the bulk of the past two days speaking with police detectives about the attack as well as doing interviews with news media. The silver-lining of it all, he says, is that it gives him the platform to speak up about bullying and marriage equality on a larger scale. (You can hear his full schpeel courtesy of a Fox New York video interview to go live at 11 a.m. and to be posted on their website later today.)
Though Contarino says he feels “lucky” and “humble” walking away from the incident, he cited a fired-up culture over the gay-marriage debate as a reason for his attack and the three other attacks in the Big Apple that have taken place in the past week alone. (Year-to-date, that number is 29 — up 15 compared to this time last year.)
“This wasn’t one gang that beat up people in four different hate crimes; these are four isolated incidents,” he says. “People need to be aware of their situations, of their surroundings.”
The lesson to be learned here? Don’t let those rainbow signs in the Gayborhood fool you — there’s no such thing as a “safe space.”
“It can happen anywhere,” he says. “You just never know.”firstname.lastname@example.org.