Gay City News
February 28, 2013


I spent that Saturday afternoon in 2008 grilling hamburgers at my church’s Pride picnic. Then I met my partner for a celebratory margarita or two at the Monster. As it started to rain, we headed across Christopher Street for the downtown subway.

I remember being glad we didn’t have to stand on the steamy platform for too long. I wanted to get home to Brooklyn quickly so I could prepare for the Pride March the next morning. We squeezed on to the cool, crowded subway car at about 6 p.m.

While the 3 train, going local, traveled downtown, a man in white shorts and a white hat sprung up from his seat shouting anti-gay slurs at me and saying I made him sick. He punched me in the face and smashed my head and teeth against the subway poles. I lost my flip-flops as I flew through the moving train car. His punches snapped my glasses in half and cut the skin under my eyes. A woman traveling with the man grabbed me and scratched her long fingernails down my neck. She laughed as she held me in place, making me a punching bag for her companion. The subway car was so crowded my partner couldn’t get to me.

When the train doors opened at the Franklin Street station, the others passengers in the car ran away. I tried to get away from the attackers, but even on the subway platform, the couple continued to hit me and call me a “faggot.” I was barefoot. My eyes were full of blood. My mouth was full of what felt like sand. It took me a few minutes to realize that sand were pieces of my front teeth.

Chris Phillips shares candidly about his assault on a New York City subway for being a gay man, and reminds us that much work remains to be done in order to make all spaces safe for LGBTQ individuals.