Gay man severely beaten outside club says he was victim of hate crime

Published: Thursday, Sept. 1 2011 4:00 p.m. MDT

Boyer has been an activist in the community for nearly 50 years. She was the owner of The Sun and Sisters and Reflections, both gay bars in Salt Lake City. While acceptance of the gay community has gotten better over the years, she believes there is still work that needs to be done.

When asked what she knew about the most recent attacks, Boyer said, "I know they got the hell beat out of them. The buzz around the community is, 'Why can't this stop?!'"

As a bar owner, Boyer recalls incidents when people would wait outside her club to randomly attack patrons as they walked out.

"Who knows what their motivation is. A lot of folks just sit outside and want to beat up queers," she said. "If I had the answer to the problem, I would have already given it. But how do you reach the unreachable?"

Boyer said she and others would continue to educate the public that gay people "are your friends. We're your neighbors. We're your co-workers." That education starts with young people who say phrases like, "That's so gay," she said. "People need to be called out when they're displaying that type of behavior."

Thomas noted that his club already has heavy security including many video cameras and security guards both inside and outside the building. Security is especially tight on Friday nights.

"It's a sad thing," he said. "Attacks have gone on since the '80s outside The Sun."

Things are getting better and people are becoming more accepting of the gay community, Thomas said. But for whatever reason, he believes that was also causing another segment to feel more threatened. But Thomas said he doesn't understand why someone would feel threatened by a 130-pound man.

Club employees know Hall. This Friday, a portion of the money raised at the club that night will be donated to Wells Fargo where a fund has been set up to help pay for his medical bills.

Hall, meanwhile, said he will be keeping his head high.

"After this comes off (the bandages and wires), hopefully I can get a new smile again and not be ugly, I guess," he said.

Contributing: Shara Park

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com, Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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