The Attack: One Year Later

Last year at this time I was being taken off to the Cape by the Doctor. Last year at this time I didn't know what happened to me. Last year at this time I didn't realize how lucky I was to be alive. I didn't know a year ago that I would have my head stomped on as Fabio Brandao and his friends screamed "die faggot die."

The dreams came back this week. The one where I would remember the start of the attack and wake up screaming and punching. Except the dream was different than it was last year. The dream was a series of vignettes. I saw the attack. I saw the man stomping on my skull. I saw the witness pull her car up so I wouldn't get run over. I saw JCH in a panic. I woke up in the hospital. The doctor came to take me away. I was back at work. I moved. And then the panic began again as the trial approached. Then there was a protest and the speech. There was support and new friends. I heard myself saying how lucky I was. I continued to live my life.

It has been a year of change for me and a year of growth. In my first post about the attack last year, you can sense the confusion and the anger in the writing. Even though I said numerous times that I would live my life, I wasn't sure I could. There was a lot of talk about the attack in the Boston media during those first few days. This news was scary to me, I had no idea how serious the attack was.

Soon after the attack I was back at work, and then before I knew it I had moved away to DC. I left my house and home for 10 years behind to start a new life. I thought I was getting over things, but the dreams continued. I would wake up every night screaming and punching. I almost broke my fist punching the headboard. The poor doctor was worried about me, and honestly worried for his own safety.

Over time the dreams began to subside. I was moving on with my life and living. The Doctor and I went to my high school reunion, we had Christmas, we went to Costa Rica, a new happy life was here for me. I was stronger than I had been. I knew I could continue living, and live my life happily. But in the back of my mind I was still scared, and I knew I was going to have to face Fabio Brandao once again.

In May it happened, The Commonwealth v. Fabio Brandao case started. This case kicked off a whirlwind of madness and emotions. I was in Boston once again and I was sitting in the courtroom facing my attacker. When he pled guilty I was happy for the plea, and then it began to sink in. How could this man who attacked three four people because he perceived them to be gay, get off without going o jail.

I began to get angry, and that's when something changed inside me. I was no longer scared, I turned my anger into something productive and began speaking out. This was the moment when I was really put what happened to me to good use and I spoke out. I spoke to a number of newspapers and news organizations. My first response to the sentence was published in Bay Window. At the same time Bay Windows published an article about the backlash to the sentence. It seemed like momentum was building and maybe what happened would result in a change to the system.

I spoke with a gentleman in Boston who rights a blog, David wrote a great article about the case and the sentence in his blog. And then there was a protest and I was asked to lend my words to the protest, I was hoping that those words would make a difference.

All of the articles, from The Blade to Metro Weekly, and the Weekly Dig. Even the Advocate published an online article, and my words were heard.

The protest and the articles were the tools that allowed me to move past the trauma and pain. They allowed me to realize that there was some good that could come out of this situation. Without the protest, and being able to speak out my dream would still end in the same place. It would end with me being the victim, on the ground with my head being stepped on... instead my dream ends with the passage of a Hate Crimes Bill, with movement towards equality, and change. I am proud to be a gay man, and I am proud to be part of change.

Of course I wish this didn't happen, but it has allowed me to see things I would have never seen before, and it allowed me to gain an understanding. I only hope that I have contributed to the change that is necessary.

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