Michael Baker, the director of an HIV organization in Atlanta, has written about a harrowing attack he and his boyfriend Nick Smith suffered while on vacation in Saint Lucia. The couple had been staying with a friend, Todd Wiggins, at a cottage on the island nation, where sex between gay men is illegal, when they were attacked by five men who had broken into the house. Baker says the ordeal "was more than a simple robbery" and recounts how the assailants "said if (Baker and Smith) were faggots they would kill (them)." He describes the awful assault in his own words on his Facebook wall:
Todd suggested that Nick and I shower off while he checked email and then we would make dinner. Nick and I went into the bathroom, started the shower, chatting about how incredible the day had been. I stepped under the water with Nick as he started to lather his hair.
Then I heard a scream I'll never forget. "Oh my god, oh my god, no, no no!!! Stay in the bathroom!! OH MY GOD!"
It didn't make sense… there had been bugs and creatures in and out of the house all week, how could Todd be freaked out by a bug? I went to the door and glanced out. Immediately, I saw a man all in black, his face covered in a tee shirt so I could only see his eyes, and the gun in his hand. We were going to die. I didn't see, but knew there was more than one because someone was attacking Todd.
I closed the door hard, realized there was no lock, and pressed myself against the door as hard as I could, waiting for the bullet to come through the door. The door pushed back against me, hard. Then harder as another person began to shove. It opened far enough that I could see two faces, guns and hands pushing to get in. I shoved back as hard as I could, and it closed. I forgot there was no ceiling on the bathroom or the pantry on the other side of the mirror.
Read the rest of Baker's account, AFTER THE JUMP.
I looked up to see a man putting his foot over the wall to the bathroom. The gun came next. Again, he was covered in clothes, his face hidden by a tee shirt, but this was not the same man. He pointed the gun at my head and said, "Get the fuck down!" As I sat down on the ground the door crashed open, and I put my head between my knees. I wondered if it was going to hurt to die by being shot in the head. I felt so trapped. I wanted to run away with Nick, get him out of there, but there was no where to escape. This was going to be it. I was angry… I was only 34. I had so many things I wanted to do.
Two men grabbed me, dragged me from the bathroom and threw me into the main room (dining room/kitchen). I heard Nick being dragged behind me. I looked up and saw them throw Nick against the counter, near the pantry. He was alone. They told me to get up, so I did and went over towards Nick to get between him and the men. That's when I felt the handle of the gun hit the back of my head. I think I cried out, and I felt the darkness coming on… I knew I couldn't pass out; it would be worse if I did. I couldn't help my boyfriend and my friend if I was unconscious. I reached out to grab the kitchen counter. A gun smashed my forearm to keep me from holding on. I could hear Todd being beaten behind me.
They began to kick me in the back and the side. I was on my side, looking at Nick's face. I could feel warm water running down my back, and realized it was not water, it was blood. I saw the blood flowing out of my forearm. They began to tell us that they hated White people. They hated faggots. They asked where we were from. We told them the United States. They told us again how much they hated us. They asked if we were gay. Why had we showered together? Todd and I both said it was because the water heater was so small. They said if we were faggots they would kill us. I saw my penis lying on my belly, and I thought they would cut it off and probably Nick's, too. I pulled my legs up in a fetal position and clamped my thighs down on my penis, pulling it back to hide it from them so maybe they wouldn't cut it off. Then I saw the lead guy kick Nick in his face. I heard the scream. I thought they broke his nose, or worse. His whole body collapsed on the floor, and the same guy kicked him in the stomach. I heard him scream again.
I started talking, trying to get them to pay attention to me, and leave him alone. Someone hit me in the base of my neck with a foot or a gun. Todd and I started telling them to take our money and just leave us alone. I pointed to my bag and pulled out my passport with the cash in it. They took it. I felt my hands being pulled behind my back. They told us they had been watching us, and they hated us, and wanted us off the island. They said they would kill us if we did not leave. We promised to leave on the first flight tomorrow. Near my head, I watched as they put a towel down, and Todd and my Macbook's were placed in it. I could hear things being stuffed into a sack. I kept my wrists as far apart as possible, hoping that there would be some slack to use to untie myself.
From the floor, I saw Todd being marched into the shower. Blood was running down his head. They picked me up and said to follow. I felt a kick to my back, and my head hit the mirror on the bathroom door. They pushed me down in the shower. It was cold. I worried about Nick being out there alone, but they pushed him in after me. We were all together. Todd had blood running down his white tee shirt. It was bright red, so I thought that was a good sign.
We hadn't looked at them as much as possible, and had told them so. I had seen the guns up close, felt them pressed against my head in various places. They felt real, but had looked like old West revolvers, with a little bit of rust on them. Their knives were long, and looked like old kitchen knives, with rust.
They told us to get off the island. They said they would check on us in five minutes, and if we had untied ourselves, they would kill us. The water got colder as it kept pouring on us. I had untied my hands almost immediately, but I kept the binding on my wrists so it would look like I had not. Todd's ankles were bound, as were his wrists behind his back. Nick untied himself, and worked on Todd's ankles. I reached up and grabbed a pair of nail clippers and clipped Todd's wrist binding.
We checked in with each other to see if we could all run. We left the water running, and Nick and I put on our shorts and tee shirts. Our shoes were on the front porch. It was out of the question to get them. The boys went to the back porch and started to climb down, about a 10 to 12 foot drop. It was very dark. I saw Nick's and my passports on the floor. I grabbed those and grabbed a flashlight out of a cabinet I had seen Todd open once.
I fell hard, and missed the chair that had been set up to climb into. We were all barefoot. We couldn't use the flashlight, because we didn't know where they were. Todd started to guide us down the back mountain, which was literally part of a rainforest. We held onto trees to ease our way down, as the incline was incredibly steep. I knew if I slipped, I would be in trouble. All of a sudden, Todd stopped us. We were at a drop-off where a road had been carved into the side of the mountain. He went first. I watched him fall to the ground for what seemed like several seconds. He reached up for me, and he helped me down. We both reached up for Nick.
The road was worse. It was not paved. It was sharp, jagged gravel. I cursed myself for having such soft feet, for never walking outside without shoes. (At this point, I have to admit that I whined, a lot. But I can't stress enough how painful it was walking on that road.) As we were getting closer to one of Todd's friend's house, we took our tee shirts off because they were bright and we wanted to conceal ourselves as much as possible.
We finally made it down the mountain, to safety. Todd's friends (Winston and Nancy) were not home. We decided that we could get to the resort, about a mile further down the road. As we started past the house across from Winston and Nancy's, we heard English speaking voices playing trivia. We banged on their door, asking for help. It didn't go well. They were scared by three half-naked men, covered in blood, mud and shaking. The wife tried to shut the door on us, the husband took us to the neighbor (Bruno), who was more helpful. Bruno took us to his outside shower to get some of the mud off our feet and legs. His wife brought us water. Walking back to their front door, we saw Winston and Nancy had just gotten home.
We were finally, truly safe. I cannot express my love for Winston and Nancy enough. They took us in, gave us a phone to use. A comedy of errors began to occur at that point. The house phone battery died. I couldn't remember a single number, but finally remembered the dial pattern to Glen Paul. I gave him their cell phones. Both of their cell phones had no battery strength. The internet wasn't working. But… we were safe.
Obviously, we made it off the island. Todd's passport was "found" in town the next day, so he was able to come home Friday, while Nick and I came home on Thursday. Delta upgraded our seats to First Class, and we were escorted to the plane by a wonderful employee who hugged us repeatedly. There are so many people we have to thank. Nick and I were met at the airport by our friends, pizza and champagne were brought to my house for dinner. Our friend, Dennis, stayed with us for several days, and took us both to Emory and the doctor's to be checked out. People have been so good to us, and we are humbled by this experience.
I don't know the full motivation that drove these five men, but I do know that I can feel pity for them. As Todd said, how horrible that this was the only option that they felt. I do think it was partly a gay-bashing. I have so much shame for denying who I was, but I did not feel I could endanger my friend and boyfriend by admitting who I was. I wish I could have fought back more, but we were so over powered. I know that we will all struggle with this for a long time, possibly our whole lives