DECATUR, Ill. (WCIA) – A brutal attack on a gay man has deeply shaken the LGBT community in Decatur.
On Sunday, dozens of protesters came out and marched to show their support for him.
Event organizer August Francis said, “It’s very strange that something like this is happening in Decatur now.”
Police arrested Ethan Dickerson on Thursday. He faces hate crime charges, accused of violently assaulting his gay neighbor in a homophobic tirade.
“It’s something that was a lot more prevalent and a lot more problematic, obviously, back when, you know, it was more prevalent,” Francis said, “but now it’s the first one we have for a long time .”
He said that when he heard the news of what happened, he suffered flashbacks.
“It was devastating. Right away the first thing I thought about was when I came out to my mom,” Francis said.
This moment was her mother’s greatest fear.
Francis said: “His first reaction was just intense fear that something like this would happen to me. Something like this could happen to my husband, my friends or my family.
He said after the heartbreaking initial feeling, he was motivated to bring the community together.
“Making sure the survivor knows they are loved was the next step,” Francis said. friends”
More than 100 people participated in the group chat. Shanon Miller has come forward to support the people she loves. She said everyone should be able to be whoever they want to be.
“It’s sad when people are afraid to live this life. And I can’t imagine not being able to be who you were,” Miller said.
Francis said a violent act towards an LGBT person could affect more than the victim.
“It sets us back years, decades. But doing something like this, where we all show up, and we make sure we’re visible, and we’re allowed and we’re proud, hopefully will get us moving forward again,” Francis said.
A transgender activist we spoke to told us that he had recently experienced violence because of his gender identity. He said events like this reminded him that he was not alone.