A Dublin rugby player who suffered horrific injuries in an alleged homophobic attack said he was appalled by reports of an alleged hate crime following the gruesome discovery of the bodies of two men in Sligo earlier this week.
When I heard that I was absolutely disgusted,” Evan Somers, 23, told Newstalk from his bed at Dublin’s St James Hospital, where he is recovering from his injuries.
“My stomach turned. I have no words for it. I don’t know if anyone has the words for it. It’s disgusting. I don’t even know what to say, it’s just disgusting,” he said of the discovery of the mutilated body of Fine Gael activist Aidan Moffitt, 41, at his home in Cartron Heights in the town of Sligo on Monday night.
The body of a second man named Michael Snee, 58, was found Tuesday at his home on Connaughton Street in the city, about a kilometer away. Gardaí said he was the victim of a serious physical attack and suffered significant injuries.
Gardaí are investigating whether the men met their attacker online.
Mr Somers said he was “grateful” he survived the unprovoked attack on him without suffering more serious injuries when he was attacked on Dublin’s Dame Street early Sunday morning after a night out.
He is a member of Emerald Warriors RFC, Ireland’s first LGBTQ+ inclusive rugby team.
He had a broken eye socket, two fractures in his ankle, which was also dislocated, and other injuries after a man made a homophobic slur and attacked him after leaving The George nightclub in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Speaking to Newstalk’s Andrea Gilligan this afternoon, he said he was regularly subjected to derogatory, homophobic comments.
“You have to stay alert,” he said.
“It’s all aggression that can add up and it makes people think it’s okay, but it can lead to something happening to what happened to me.”
He said despite the vicious attack on him, he was grateful his injuries weren’t worse. He has a needle holding his ankle and bones together and is awaiting surgery on Friday and may need surgery on his eye socket.
“I could have fallen backwards and hit my head. You hear from people who get a bad punch in the face like I got, or people who have knives. They just really don’t know what’s going to happen, so I’m really grateful to be sitting here and talking about it.”
But he said the effusive support he received, including condemning the attack from singers Boy George, Taoiseach Michéal Martin and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar after posting pictures of his injuries on social media, helped him cope with the ordeal To finish.
“It kind of exploded and I was very surprised.
“I think it says a lot about where we stand in society. People are fed up with being trampled on everywhere and I think people say “enough is enough”. It’s 2022, you shouldn’t be attacked for being different from everyone else in any way.”
He said he would like to see more Gardaí on the streets. “You can go into town any time at night and you won’t meet any guards,” he said.
“It’s a big problem, because after one night. It is a very dangerous time and the city of Dublin is a very dangerous area.”
He also said schools should educate students about the LGBTQ+ community, noting that people are often bullied from a young age.
“Maybe an open conversation when kids are younger, so hopefully the next generation won’t have to deal with that as much.”
He said hate crime legislation is also “one of the biggest things I can think of.”
He added that his mother is also worried about his safety and that of his 18-year-old brother, who is also gay.
“It would have been her biggest fear for something like this to happen and it did so I really feel for her and all my family who have been really supportive but they really got a big scare.”
When asked if he would limit going out after the attack, he said: “These last few days I’ve been trying so hard to be positive. Today it really started to hit me, what happened. It may take a while. But I know that the person who went out Saturday night may not be the same person here today. I feel a little different. It’s hard to put into words, but I feel like I might hesitate for a while.”
Mr Somers told Katie Hannon on RTÉ One’s live line that despite the trauma of what happened to him, “I want to live my life the way I did. I don’t want to change who I am”.
However, he said he may have to put his rugby on hold depending on the extent of his injuries.
He said he never thought he would speak to the media about his ordeal.
“I never expected it to be such an issue, but I’m glad it’s being talked about,” he said.
Meanwhile, his cousin Casey, who was with him when he was attacked, recalled how a “random” man appeared behind them and “constantly annoyed and insulted” Mr Somers before slapping him hard in the face.
“I remember the sound of the punch. It was so intense I can still hear it,” she said. “You can almost hear the bone cracking in his face.
“It was completely random and unprovoked. It just pisses me off and not just me but the whole family. It makes us so angry.”
Meanwhile, callers to RTE Radio One’s Liveline program spoke of similar unprovoked attacks on members of the LQBT+ community.
A mother named Sam, from north-west Ireland, said her son, whom she described as an “athletic, straight” young man, was brutally attacked at a house party two months ago while he was defending a friend who is a gay man after he became a homophobic slur exposed.
“When he turned left, he got hit on the head. Up to four people jumped on him, he was constantly being beaten,” she said.
They then turned on the gay man and started raining punches on him, resulting in his nose being broken, she said.
“I was absolutely furious that this happened to him,” she said.
“We believe we have come a long way. We brought big news around the world,” she said of the marriage equality referendum. “But it hasn’t rid us of homophobia or discrimination.”
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/victim-of-homophobic-attack-says-he-is-disgusted-by-reports-of-hate-fuelled-murders-in-sligo-41551398.html Victim of homophobic attack says he is “disgusted” by reports of hateful killings in Sligo