Alabama Man Says He’s a Victim of Vicious Gay-Related Assault
A man from Birmingham, Ala., says he was beaten on his way to run errands because he is gay.
Richie Covington, who considers himself a gay, gender non-conforming man, was on his way to a pick up groceries for himself and his mother when he said an unknown man physically and verbally assaulted him in front of a gas station.
"While walking by, this guy yelled something to me, not realizing I was a guy at first," Covington said. "When I turned around and spoke back to him and he realized I was a guy, he was like, 'Oh my God, you're a faggot!'"
Covington went on to say that he has endured such incidents in the past. but he usually ignores the people who might insult him or hurl anti-gay slurs. This time, however, he decided he had had enough.
He made the decision to stand up for himself and told the man, "Damn right I'm a fag, what of it?" Covington continued to walk. He says he never looked or made eye contact with the alleged attacker. But soon after the verbal exchange,, Covington says, he heard the man screaming behind him, "Hey faggot."
"Not really thinking about it I turned around and he first punched me in the stomach and knocked the wind out of me," Covington related. "When I doubled over, all of a sudden my vision went black and I was seeing stars. He had punched directly in the nose."
Covington fell to the ground and the man allegedly kicked him before Covington finally blacked out. When he came to, he discovered that the attacker, who has not been apprehended, had stolen all of the money from his wallet.
Covington managed to stagger back to his house, where he takes care of his mother who is on hospice care. He washed the blood off his face, but his mother told him that he would need stitches and that his nose was probably broken.
"I knew I needed to report it, but I felt like getting me to the ER took precedence at the time," Covington said. "I called the hospital and they said they'd call a police officer and file a report when I came to the ER."
Covington claims, however, that the police officer who filed the complaint "seemed very uninterested." He said the cop talked with him for "all of five minutes."
At the hospital, doctors informed Covington that his nose was too swollen for stitches and that it was now crooked until he went to a plastic surgeon in order to fix it. Covington, however, doesn't have medical insurance to pay for the operation. "I don't work because most of my time is spent taking care of my mom," he said. "We live on her alimony and barley scrape by as it is."
Covington says he is in constant pain and has suffered intense nightmares after the incident. One night, he bit down on his tongue so hard he woke up with blood in his mouth.
"I've heard about these things happening, but it was always a distant thing that I never thought would happen to me," Covington said. "I keep replaying it in my head. What if. What if I would have waited five more minutes before I left home? What if I wouldn't have replied to that guy? What if I'd have been more careful and noticed him behind me before he called out to me? What if I had fought back?"
Covington's friend Theresa Berst has set up a fundraising site to help pay for medical expenses and welcomes contributions.
Alabama does not identify hate crimes.