Two gay men, both salon owners from Charlotte, were attacked in Asheville in 2012 while visiting for the weekend.
Dustin Martin and Mark Little left a gay bar after 2 a.m. and were walking along Patton Avenue toward their hotel. Martin said they weren’t kissing. They weren’t holding hands. They weren’t even side-by-side – Martin trailed about 20 feet behind because his feet hurt.
From out of the dark, Martin said, a car pulled up and two women screamed:
Martin, 30, said he has been called slurs too many times to count. He said he usually shrugs them off. That night, he said, he felt exhausted. Here he was in one of the South’s most inclusive cities being attacked, not because of anything he did, because of who he is.
He said he yelled back: You’re a stupid bitch. I’ve done nothing to you. Leave me alone!
A man charged out from the car, Martin said, and punched him in the chest.
Martin said Little screamed: Get off of him! The man then turned on Little and punched him in the face, Martin said. A photograph taken that night shows blood dripping down Little’s cheek.
“He just came in and started swinging,” Martin said. “Neither one of us hit back. We were just stunned.”
Asheville police reported the assault to the FBI as a hate crime based on sexual orientation. However, the perpetrators were never identified and no charges were filed on either the state or federal level.