Kent’s Story: “Hatred and bigotry are still ever present in our world”

I was enjoying an early evening (7:30pm) in New York City’s Madison Square Park on Wednesday 03 August; when I walked to the northwest corner of the park (near 26th Street & 5th Avenue) a man started yelling out obscenities to me; I walked away and took a seat further south (near 25th Street). I could still hear him yelling…and so could the other twenty or so people on the benches between this man and me. Eventually I stopped hearing him.

I kept my eyes open for a Park Employee thinking to report the man, but saw none in the area. I didn’t hear nor see the man and at 8:00pm I finished a cell phone call and decided to walk back to the exit at 26th Street & 5th Avenue.

Suddenly I heard the man again and saw him get up from his seat (in the dark shadows on the north side of the park) as I turned down the exit path. There were others still seated near the exit; even a man walking his dog whom I had to walk around to make my turn to the exit path.

The man was about 6 foot 2 inches (two inches shorter than me); but heavier than me; yelling “faggot” and slurred threats my way. He sped up to intentionally cross my path at this narrowed point (because of the man with the dog). Passing within a foot of me, he yelled “faggot” again and threatened to beat me over the head with a bottle he had in his hand.

I said nothing and hurried away from him toward the exit. He was still yelling obscenities.

The frightening thing to me is that this could happen in clear view and proximity to so many other people who were in the park.  It was still relatively light out, as dusk was still falling.

It was a disturbing experience for me, which I still think of days afterwards as I walk the streets of New York, even in these “good neighborhoods.”  This Madison Square Park is normally very safe and family-oriented.

It just reminds me that hatred and bigotry are still ever present in our world; no matter the “advances” we in the Gay Community believe we are making, and no matter the “acceptance” we seem to be seeing from the general population; we still have to be vigilant and cautious as there will always be people out there meaning us harm.

Thank you for reading my story.

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