Colorado | Crime | Gay Slurs | News

Colorado Teen Assaulted by Fellow Students for Being Gay

Anthony Hergesheimer, a 15-year-old openly gay student in Pueblo, Colorado, was pursued by a group of six fellow students in a car after leaving school last Thursday. His pursuers passed him four times on the street, taunting him with anti-gay slurs before one of them got out and threw an aerosol can at his head, fracturing his cheekbone and breaking his nose.

Hergesheimer_2Said Hergesheimer: "They said things to me like, 'You, fag, this and you, fag, that,' and then they walked off."

The taunting had reportedly started earlier in the day when the group threw a wet tampon at Hergesheimer.

Heregesheimer's mother, Teresa Ornelas, said that her son had also received threatening emails. Said Ornelas: "I'm very upset. Yeah, my son is gay. But that shouldn't matter. He should be proud of who he is."

She and her husband believe authorities are "dragging their feet" as well because it's a gay-related incident. Added Ornelas: "I think it's taking too long. I don't understand why there have been no arrests. The boys have admitted to assaulting my son. My son has identified them all. Everyone knows about it, and they're still walking around free." The Deputy Chief of police disputes that, saying the incident is getting more attention because of the hate crime element.

Hergesheimer2Hergesheimer is reportedly undergoing surgery today to repair his facial injuries, and the six teens who attacked him have been temporarily suspended while the school decides whether or not to expel them.

As far as I'm concerned, that decision is a no-brainer. Expel them, at the very least.

Hergesheimer remained strong following the attack: "You shouldn't be afraid to be who you are. Of course there will be people who won't agree with you. But you shouldn't be scared to be who you are."

Video [koaa]

Gay Teen Attacked By Fellow High School Students [the denver channel]
Gay Student In Pueblo Is Possible Hate Crime Victim [krdo]

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  1. If you wish to contact Anthony's school, which I encourage everyone to do in any way they feel comfortable doing so, here is the contact information.

    Centennial High School
    Public School District 60
    2525 Mountview Drive
    Pueblo, Colorado 81008
    (719) 549-7335

    Here is an email for Public School District 60:

    The Superintendent's name is: J. Wm. Covington.

    Let's voice our support for Anthony and his caring parents and make sure the school and its district know that people are paying attention to their decision!

    Posted by: Rob (lrdarystar) | Apr 12, 2007 9:00:02 AM

  2. I take my hat off to this kid

    To be 15 and out AND proud. Then to be assaulted and still his head high. He is an inspiration.

    Oh and what the bet that after those boys went home, they got under the covers and started jerking off thinking about Anthony. Homophobia usually equals self denial

    Posted by: stephen | Apr 12, 2007 9:15:12 AM

  3. Poor kid.

    Like Andy said, a no brainner on the expeling them from school thing.

    Posted by: pacificoceanboy | Apr 12, 2007 9:43:06 AM

  4. would someone start a health benefits fund for this kid so that I can send him a few quid.

    Meantime, had Imus only called those basketball players "nappy headed dykes," he'd still be working & Al Sharpton wouldn't have been bothered.

    Posted by: zabadak | Apr 12, 2007 9:45:45 AM

  5. I wish I had been that courageous at 15, or even 20. I say don't expel those six, make them research and write a report on hate crimes, gay teen suicides and homophobia and then go from school to school in their state giving readings from it.
    Homophobia is fear and ignorance, giving them an education on the evil they did is worth more than sending them home for a month.

    Posted by: secretagentman | Apr 12, 2007 9:47:28 AM

  6. if only more guys in public positions (celebrities who dodge the gay question) stood as tall as (and had the balls of) this 15 year old man.
    folks like Mika and Anderson Cooper should display more honor, otherwise it is conveyed that being gay is infact a source of shame... and resultingly incidents like this will remain our reality.

    Anthony Hergesheimer is an incredible guy, God bless him.
    ** many thanks Rob, i'm definitely contacting that high school.

    Posted by: A.J. | Apr 12, 2007 9:57:43 AM

  7. Zabadak, you are not correct.

    Al Sharpton is the only person I've heard so far who also decried the implied homophobic element to Imus' verbal attacks. (By referring to them as "rough" and undesirable, Sharpton asserted that there was some thin homophobia going on as well as the racism and sexism in the more explicit comments.)

    Unfortunately, as much as I used to like Jesse Jackson, he's the one who consistently shies away from gay issues. Sharpton is more like Dr. King Jr. who pushed for civil rights for all people - including gay and lesbian folks.

    Posted by: Rey | Apr 12, 2007 9:58:41 AM

  8. You go, kid. Keep your chin up.

    Posted by: Brian | Apr 12, 2007 9:58:59 AM

  9. Not only is this kid a role model for other gay kids and adults, his mother deserves some props as well. I'd say his apparent well-adjusted approach is partly reflective of the love and support his mom has shown. I wish him and his mom the best as they move forward through this ordeal.

    Posted by: Scotto | Apr 12, 2007 10:01:17 AM

  10. Hatred and violence against gay people does come from the White House down, doesn't it? I didn't understand (or believe it) for the longest time, but now I do. The Republicans have set the tone for a decade now...hateful motha' fu*kas.--the white, black, and Latino ones...oh, and Asian Republicans too--are there any?

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Apr 12, 2007 10:50:07 AM

  11. It never ceases to amaze me how frequently Andy chooses just the *perfect* pictures for the story. Sure, it's emotional manipulation, but if you're not already outraged by this, then maybe you *need* to be manipulated in that direction.

    You can't look at that first photo and not see the hurt in that kid's eyes. The second photo looks like it comes from an interview - probably saying those things about how you shouldn't be afraid to be yourself - and yet there's that sense of sadness. But, then, who wouldn't be after being attacked by 6 thugs?

    He's a brave kid. Good for him, and good for his mom.

    Posted by: Jordan | Apr 12, 2007 10:50:32 AM

  12. See Roseanne,

    This is why you hear us talk so much about being gay. Because we constantly have to defend our right to exist from harsh rhetoric and violence.

    Posted by: Marco | Apr 12, 2007 11:04:06 AM

  13. Don't forget; apples never fall far from the tree. These gay bashing kids come from home and social environments that teach them, through words and examples, that gay people are scum and deserving of all the abuse they receive. The kids aren’t the real problem here. Their words, and their actions, are simply a visible manifestation of a much deeper, more insidious and wide-spread problem. The REAL root of this senseless violence is the screwed up family/community/societal/”Christian” values in which these kids are raised. If you raise a child in a family, or a community, or a church, or a society that devalues and demonizes certain people then you can hardly be surprised when they get the idea that it’s OK, funny and even entertaining to treat those certain people with disrespect, hate and violence.

    I have no doubt that these kids' parents will come out of the woodwork to defend their little darlings. They will inevitably, and invariably, claim that their children were actually the victims of the homa-sek-shul perp. The only question is, which victim card will they pull? Are they going to claim that the gay kid threatened their religious beliefs? Are they going to claim that all of this "overreaction" is simply a result of homosexuals, atheist and liberals trying to attack Christianity? Are they going to go for the ever-popular outrage that their First Amendment rights are being threatened? If any of these fail they can always fall back on the tried-and-true favorites, "He made an unwanted sexual advance" or “We were terrified that the weak little sissy fag was going to rape all of us tough, manly, studs”. It’s the least creative option but no one can deny how effective these claims have historically been in winning acquittals for gay bashers and murderers of gays.

    It’s time for the religious leaders, “family values” politicians and the “What Would Jesus Do” bumper sticker crowd of Colorado to come together and rally against the persecution of these six courageous little culture warriors. First Amendment freedoms (for bigots) and religious liberties could depend on it. At the very least they should commit themselves to silence and take no public position on it. That will allow 20/20 to do one of their infamous “Matthew Shepard-styled”, revisionist, blame-the-victim, “investigative reports” at some point in the future. THEN would be the best time for them to break their silence and finally comment on it.

    After all, this is the very kind of thing that fundamentalist "Christians" are now rallying to preserve all across America. It's bullying like this, and hate-crime assaults like this, that they claim don't exist or, even if the do exist, are no big deal; at least as long as the victim is, or is suspected of being, gay. They come out in droves to rail against any attempt to pass anti-bullying laws (that specifically list GLBT) and they come out in droves to protest any EXPANTION of EXISTING hate-crimes laws to include GLBTs the way they have protected religious people, and others, for almost forty years.

    Has Focus on the Fornicator had a press release about this incident (which took place in their back yard) yet? What about Peter Labarbara, Lou Sheldon, Don Wildmon, Tony Perkins et al? None of these individuals, or the hate groups they represent, ever miss an opportunity to comment on all things homosexual? Why so much silence now?

    I won’t be holding my breath!

    Posted by: Zeke | Apr 12, 2007 11:06:36 AM

  14. poor kid. stupid fuckers.

    Posted by: WestVillageKid | Apr 12, 2007 11:33:47 AM

  15. Not one of the parents of the attackers has called Anthony's Mom to apologize for their kid. The apple really doesn't fall far from the tree.

    Is anyone else irritated by the cable news report that continually refers to the "alleged" hate crime? They broke this kid's nose and fractured his cheek because he was gay. If that's not a hate crime what is?

    There's a whole world of hurt in that kids eyes. At 15 he already has that haunted look we all know so well. Those hateful kids threw that darkness over his life. They do not have the right to, nobody does.

    The consequences for their actions should be severe.

    Posted by: FASTLAD | Apr 12, 2007 11:39:46 AM

  16. Maybe the Victory Fund could suggest to some of these supposedly "powerful" openly gay elected officials in this country that they might want to be PROACTIVE and actually draft NATIONAL legislation for a ZERO tolerance policy of violence/homophobia/hate language in the United States schools. Gay and Lesbian legislators then can help FRAME the dialog/discussion instead of being left out of it completely. :) Maybe then this country will have a serious and constructive discussion about hate violence in the schools and move towards PREVENTING it instead of just always reacting to it.
    Him and his mother and the thousands of other GLBTQ youth who will inevitably get gay bashed without these laws on the books will appreciate it(some literally with their very lives!) Gay marriage,Gays in the Military,etc are all worthwhile endeavors but this legislation will actually SAVE LIFES and untold MISERY! I've known too many gay men who bemoan growing up with no gay role models and yet are intimidated and fearful to speak out on behalf of the rights of gay youth for fear of being labeled a pedofile or worse. Thanks for posting this story Andy. It's important.

    Posted by: ShawnSF | Apr 12, 2007 11:54:27 AM

  17. sorry...SAVE LIVES.

    Posted by: ShawnSF | Apr 12, 2007 11:58:31 AM

  18. Amazing kid! And Rey, you are correct on Al Sharpton. He's definitely not anti-gay.

    Posted by: Jason | Apr 12, 2007 12:39:52 PM

  19. Wow, I can't even think of all the stuff he has gone through and is thinking right now. I really hope things work out for him and he becomes a stronger person.

    The kids that did this need to be punished. Expel them and spend them to juvie.

    Posted by: Jack! | Apr 12, 2007 12:58:03 PM

  20. When one of these stories comes along, I'm usually struck by the fact that the young victim is often a small and frail-looking individual. As if to add insult to injury, not only are these victims chosen because they are openly gay, they are also chosen because they are openly gay AND small/frail.

    Where are the big strapping athletic homosexual teens? Often they are in the closet and keeping their mouths shut when these gay kids are attacked...or worse...

    ...participating in the attacks.

    I was of the former variety. I could hide and keep my orientation secret because I was "straight acting" (a term I despise because it assumes masculine gay men are "acting"). I admire kids like Anthony because they have courage that I lacked at that age.

    Posted by: mark m | Apr 12, 2007 1:20:02 PM

  21. Why is this even considered to be newsworthy? It happens every day folks. And much worse happens.

    I feel really bad for you Americans! Last September there was the "Eric Hainstock" story printed in just about every Canadian publication. Hainstock was the 15 year old boy in Wisconsin who shot his high school principal to death. According to Hainstock, other kids had been bullying him, calling him faggot and beating up on him, and the principal did nothing to stop it.

    Eric Hainstock (15) faces life and is presently in an adult prison.

    Andy didn't see this story as being newsworthy. And unfortunately folks, there's things like this happening every day all over America. I guess people would rather see pictures of Brad Pitt and read about Britney's 2nd trip to Rehab.

    Posted by: Jamie | Apr 12, 2007 1:24:42 PM

  22. love that mom. this kid will grow up and lead a good life.

    Posted by: MATT | Apr 12, 2007 1:45:05 PM

  23. A few days ago there was a story in the NYT about a six-year-old black girl at a Florida school who was arrested and taken to jail for having a tantrum. She apparently whacked a teacher with her fist while flailing and crying. In this case, where a group of teenage boys have inflicted serious injuries on a fellow student, nothing has been done and no one's in jail. That's messed up: the police arrest babies for having tantrums and allow young men on the cusp of adulthood to rampage through our streets assaulting their schoolmates.

    Posted by: Tom | Apr 12, 2007 1:45:16 PM

  24. I wish Canadians would stop coming on here and pitying us poor Americans--it's ridiculous. Canada is no Utopia.

    This is a classic "let's make an example of the fag" situation to discourage others from coming out and proving "masculinity". No doubt their bulimic girlfriends will be publicly supportive of the crime and privately worried about getting beaten themselves.

    Posted by: anon | Apr 12, 2007 2:00:47 PM

  25. Here is the text of a letter I sent to the principal of Centennial High School and the School Superintendent for Anthony's school district:

    Superintendent Covington and Principal Miguel Elias, Ph.D.,

    I am writing because I have just read that one of your students, Anthony Hergesheimer, was attacked by six fellow students. The version of the story I read was that Anthony was attacked, not because he provoked the other students, but simply because Anthony is homosexual.

    I hope the administration at your school knows that the GLBT community throughout the country is following this story on blogs on the internet. We are watching to see how Centennial High School administration and Pueblo School District 60 handle this attack on one of our own.

    I believe I speak for the vast majority of GLBT adults when I say that ALL SIX of the students who participated in the attack on Anthony, from the student who threw the aerosol can to the student who drove the car to the other students who were in the car, should all be expelled. There is no reason that Anthony Hergesheimer should have to attend school daily with students who have assaulted him previously. If the school fails to expel the six students who assaulted Anthony Hergesheimer then the school is helping to create a hostile environment not only for Anthony Hergesheimer but also for any other student who is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

    And may I remind Centennial High School and the Pueblo School District 60 that both the school and the school district could be held liable in a court of law for any further damages Anthony or any other student might suffer as a result of inaction (or inadequate action) from the school or school district regarding this incident.

    I hope that the school district will take immediate action to expel the students who participated in the attack on Anthony Hergesheimer.

    Thank you.

    Posted by: peterparker | Apr 12, 2007 2:06:40 PM

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