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]

Comments

  1. Rob (lrdarystar) says

    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
    email: centennial@pueblo60.k12.co.us
    website: http://www.pueblo60.k12.co.us/centennial.nsf

    Here is an email for Public School District 60: webmaster@pueblo60.k12.co.us

    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!

  2. stephen says

    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

  3. zabadak says

    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.

  4. secretagentman says

    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.

  5. says

    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.

  6. Rey says

    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.

  7. Scotto says

    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.

  8. Derrick from Philly says

    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?

  9. Jordan says

    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.

  10. Marco says

    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.

  11. Zeke says

    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!

  12. says

    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.

  13. ShawnSF says

    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.

  14. Jack! says

    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.

  15. mark m says

    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.

  16. says

    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.

  17. Tom says

    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.

  18. anon says

    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.

  19. peterparker says

    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.

  20. says

    Wow, I raise my hat to that kid. I was one of those frail looking 15 y/o kids that was out in high school, but thankfully I never had to endure that type of behaviour. Taunting is one thing, but phisically attacking is another. And to be able to give such a level-headed response to the attacks shows he’s incredibly well surrounded. Congrats to him and his parents. And I’m definitely going to be contacting that school.

    And to those saying this is just “one of many”. Yes, it is. But regardless, it shouldn’t be ignored. And nor should other incidents be. It’s only by tackling these issues one by one that something will change though.

    And btw, I’m one of “those Canadians”. And trust me, I hardly believe us to have a perfect society. But I can guarantee that, from personal experience, a situation like this would have had far more severe consequences and in a much more timely manner. And not simply because this is a sexual discrimination matter, but any type of harassment is deeply frowned upon and most of our schools have zero tolerance policies when it comes to any type of discrimination.

  21. Zeke says

    Mark M, I understand your point, and agree with it for the most part, but I’m surprised that it’s the “acting” in “straight acting” that you take most offense with and most exception to.

    What bothers me about this often quoted term is the inherent homophobia that it carries. The only gay people who are truly “straight acting” are those who are ACTING like they are attracted to people of the opposite sex; NOTHING more. So of course a gay person would have to be “acting” to pull it off. For that reason it’s the whole “straight acting” and not just the “acting” that I find irritating. For the life of me, I’ve never been able to figure out how telling people that you act like you are attracted to women would be a positive selling point on a gay man’s profile.

    I suspect that the vast majority of people who use this term actually mean that they are “masculine” or “manly” because, in their mind, straight = masculine and manly and gay automatically = un-masculine. Strangely enough, the behavior that many self proclaimed “straight acting” people exhibit requires deception, dishonesty, cowardice, shame and a refusal to stand up for themselves, the one they love or people like them; “qualities” that NO straight man would consider positive masculine characteristics and no straight person would want associated with them.

    Beyond the whole straight vs. masculine debate I am bothered by the way so many people in the gay community will overlook or even look up to gay men who exhibit dishonesty, cowardice and shame but are completely offended and unaccepting of honest, courageous and proud feminine men or people who don’t hold fast to “traditional”, “acceptable” gender expression. That, in my opinion, is just as homophobic, and is just as threatening to the gay community (if not more) than anything that straight America, or fundamentalist America, or right-wing America could throw at us.

  22. says

    Anon: I’m an American living in Canada FYI. And even if I was “one of those Canadians”, Americans ARE to be pitied! The USA is the laughingstock of the world at the moment, don’t you get your news from elsewhere besides Towleroad and Popbitch?

  23. Leland says

    Great letter, Peter!

    This attack, and the inadequate response of the school and local police, is yet ANOTHER reason to let HRC and GLAAD wither on the vine and send your money only to groups that are focused on working to protect gay [or thought to be gay] kids and increase their acceptance: GLSEN, the Matthew Shepard Foundation, PFLAG, and Lambda Legal.

  24. Zeke says

    Andy did cover the story of the kid who shot the principal after facing years of homophobic abuse at his public school. However, there is a fine line between feeling a great deal of anger with the way the kid was treated prior to the shooting, feeling frustrated with the fact that he felt pushed to such extreme measures (and feeling sorry for the way his life was ruined) and giving the impression that you support the desperate and extreme actions that he took to remedy the situation.

    The abuse that the kid faced in his public school was shameful and unacceptable but killing his principal was shameful and unacceptable and wrong as well, regardless of the level of desperation and helplessness the kid felt.

    I think Andy was very thoughtful and careful in walking that fine line with the way he presented the story on his site.

  25. says

    Kudos to his parents, for really getting it in a place that hasn’t quite caught up with either coast of this country in terms of understanding.

    This kid’s safety has to be considered first: if it isn’t safe to have those ass-hats in the school, then toss em. However, it’s also important that those same ignorant ass-hats learn about their idiocy, so they don’t grow up even worse homophobes. It’s important they be reformed, however that’s possible – be it in child detention or whatever, but education is still key. They may just no longer have the right to get it in the same place as they used to – and that’s something they’ll have to deal with, as there are real consequences in life.

  26. Jamie says

    Hey ZEKE:
    Sorry, but NO; Andy NEVER ran the Hainstock story. I should know…I wrote him many times begging him to. And I’ve been reading Towleroad every day for years now and not once did Andy feature a story about Eric Hainstock.

    I don’t “give the impression that I support the extreme actions” that Hainstock took. I just think that if the general population knew about this story, there wouldn’t be a 15 yr old kid sitting in an adult prison right now, susceptable to even more abuse by other male adult prisoners. He has to pay for his crime; he killed somebody after all. But society has to pay also for creating these situations where kids have to defend themselves like caged animals from their tormentors at our public schools!

  27. Derrick from Philly says

    No, 15 year old Eric Hanstock shouldn’t have shot the principal. He should have paid someone else to do it. Seriously, I know how he felt. There are anti-gay teachers, school administrators I’ve been wanting to kill for 40 years..well, maim them atleast. Harassment and gay bashing in the schools are part of the reason for the high suicide rate (and suicide attempts) by teenage gay folks. Sometimes, gay teachers can be assholes too–towards transgendered kids. I’m sorry Eric is in prison not just because I sympathize with him, but he doesn’t belong there.
    I wish I could shoot some of those rotten anti-gay teachers I had back in the 60’s and 70’s, even the dead ones. Please excuse the maudlin violins of self-pity playing in the background as you read my post.

  28. Zeke says

    Jamie, I stand corrected. I guess I just remember discussing the incident in the comment section and assumed that it was in response to a post by Andy.

    I don’t know why Andy didn’t post it. It does seem odd. Only he can answer that question.

  29. anon says

    At least we American CAN laugh about ourselves. The rest of the world is largely humorless and morose about their problems, if they get discussed at all. Europeans still see themselves largely as peasants.

  30. Zeke says

    While gays are being bashed and murdered in greater numbers, here is part of a report, from Pam Spaulding of Pam’s House Blend, on what two of the nations self professed Christian warriors said at a recent “Christian Values” conference:

    —- LaBarbera then called for anti-gay activists to regain the offensive by constantly reminding people that homosexual behavior is always wrong and that they must stop “downplaying their opposition” to homosexuality. More importantly, they must work to “bring shame back” to those who are practicing or defending homosexuality.

    During a question and answer session following the panel, an attendee raised a question about framing the debate over the issue and the Right’s “failure” to stop homosexuals from appropriating the term “gay.” LaBarbera stated that it is important to remember that the term “homosexual” is an adjective, not a noun. When Sheldon was asked what Christians ought to be calling homosexuals rather than “gay” or “homosexual,” he thundered “SODOMITES – and perverted ones!” to which he received a round of thunderous applause. Sheldon echoed LaBarbera, stating that the Right must get over its aversion to discussing the “grossness” of homosexual behavior and begin pushing for legislation declaring such behavior a social disorder.” —-

    These kids were only doing EXACTLY what these well known “moral” crusaders (who are constantly being invited onto mainstream media discussions to give the “Christian” perspective on a story) have told them to do.

    THAT is where the bulk of the outrage should be directed.

  31. Leland says

    “Europeans still see themselves largely as peasants.”???? In an odd way I feel comforted knowing that some posters’ gross stupidity isn’t limited to LGBT issues.

  32. MCnNYC says

    Once again LELAND is just ridiculous is beating his mouth about HRC without using any brain cells what so ever!(you must really have a hard on for andrew sullivan) cause on this issue of HAte Crimes and Legislation in this regard is is WAY OFF BASE and has is own personal misguided and just plain IGNORANT views.

    DO YOU REALLY THINK THE ONLY ORGANIZATIONS one need fund are those ” groups that are focused on working to protect gay [or thought to be gay] kids and increase their acceptance.” REALLY? THINK ABOUT IT.

    Now GLAAD I’m right there with you.

    Just Today HRC and Judy Shepard helped introduce this piece of Legislation in the Senate. I am a contributor to both The Matthew Shepard Foundation, HRC as well as LAMDA and Victory Fund…BUT YOUR COMMENT LE

  33. KB says

    Here is a letter I just fired off to the powers that be in Pueblo, Colorado.

    To: The Superintendent’s J. Wm. Covington and The Principal of Centennial High School:

    Needlesstosay, I am outraged about the homophobic violence that Anthony Hergesheimer had to endure at the hands of those thugs you refer to as students. If these students are a reflection of of the kind of atmosphere that other students who are different for one reason or another have to endure, something is seriously wrong with your leadership. Those thugs that assaulted Anthony should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Their hatecrimes against Anthony are outrageous!! And I have the sneaking suspicion that this is not the first time that Anthony has been harrassed by these so-called students. What about their parents? Have no shame knowing that their well-brought-up children are such vicious monsters? These young men need serious psychological help. Morover, if the powers that be in your school district fail to punish them, and I mean punish them beyond a weak suspension sentence, you and everyone else involved in the decision needs to fired.

    This is 2007, hate and violence against gays and lesbians must end!!

  34. Josh says

    Stephen, post #2…You’re wrong. The little closet cases didn’t run home and jerk off thinking just about Anthony, they were thinking about each other as well.

    Hang in there Anthony. Do not let them bring you down. Stay strong and next time, kick their asses bro! If I was there we’d do it together.

    Little pussy thugs, 6 on 1…yeah, real brave boys there, eh?

  35. Chaq says

    I feel totally outraged about this whole matter. There is far too much bullying going on (and I inlude assault in that category) and there is far too little being done about it.
    Sadly, it’s a fact of life that many many kids actually find it enjoyable and funny to hurt others, whether they’re gay, lesbian, black, asian, fat, `weird’ looking or whatever.
    Equally sad is that the parents of little cunts (and there are MANY out there) can’t accept that they have produced foul offspring and that they need to deal with them as they would a stranger’s child, that is, harshly.

  36. mark m says

    “I suspect that the vast majority of people who use this term actually mean that they are “masculine” or “manly” because, in their mind, straight = masculine and manly and gay automatically = un-masculine.”

    Most people I know who have used the term do it for precisely that reason – to identify themselves as masculine “like a straight man” because we all know to act gay is to be feminine. That’s the kind of bullshit that bothers me about the term. We agree, I think, just we expressed it from slightly different angles.

  37. John says

    And what sort of “severe consequences” did you have in mind? Something like this?

    http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2004/12/10/webster0410.html

    This is precisely why Americans don’t take our critics too seriously. Had the police arrested these teens and charged them as adults, our global critics would accuse us of having a “backward” judicial system and commiting “child abuse.” Had the school expelled a group of ethnic minorities, our global critics would say the “racist U.S, school administrators” are at it again. A lot of the so-called criticisms against this country are self-contradictory and are “to the contrary” rather than anything constructive.

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