Last Tuesday a 20 year old gay man from Wollongbar was attacked and thrown through a glass shop front in River Street, Ballina.
“It was a straight out hate crime,” said Sean Rich, the victim of the attack. “They were calling me a faggot.”
Ballina police have charged a 17 year old local male, and investigations into the involvement of others are ongoing.
Rich was still in hospital on Thursday, recovering from a 12 cm gash to his upper thigh, a 15 cm wound across his upper arm, a deep gash to his left hand and various cuts and bruises.
Rich says after drinks with friends at the Henry Rous Tavern in Ballina, an altercation started when they stepped outside. He allege that his group crossed the street, where they were set upon by a group of youths that quickly swelled to around 20.
Rich said he owed his life to his friend Tully Rodwell, who helped him.
Scared, bruised and bleeding profusely, he managed to get away and run to the foyer of the nearby Ballina RSL Club.
“I just needed to get somewhere safe. Before I even got there a woman was running along and screaming for help. I was trying to stay calm and make conversation with people in the club so they wouldn’t panic,” he said.
“But I was saying goodbye to my friends because I thought I was going to die. I was bleeding everywhere.”
Rich had moved to Northern New South Wales only two months before the attack. “I love it here. I have my feet sunk in here. It is not the area that did this to me.”
Despite the trauma and the injuries sustained, Rich remains resilient. “They are not worth it, it’s not worth getting upset or angry. This is their problem, not mine. I’m just the one who has to wear the scars. I came out of the closet for a reason, not for others to put me back in it.”