AUSTIN, Texas — A gay couple is recovering from a recent assault in Downtown Austin and say the violent act will not stop them from expressing themselves.  

  • Two men attacked in Downtown Austin speak out
  • Say the incident won’t change how they live their lives
  • Police are investigating the assault as a hate crime

Twenty-three-year-old Spencer Deehring and 22-year-old Tristan Perry still have visible wounds from the attack early Saturday and now are having to deal with the effects of the resulting head trauma, as well as the emotional toll. Perry said he has been having trouble sleeping.

“It’s really scary when you wake up in a hospital bed and you don’t remember anything and you’re told that you were just attacked,” Perry said. “I feel like it’s all a dream and unfortunately it’s not.”  

The couple said after a night out with friends, they were leaving the bar Rain on West 4th Street, holding hands.

“A guy walked in the opposite direction of us as we’re walking towards Third [Street] and kind of muffled under his breath the ‘f’ word that everyone in the community hates,” Deehring said.  

That was the moment when the men began punching the couple to the point of unconsciousness, near Third Street and Congress Avenue. Perry was also kicked in the head. The blows sent them to the hospital and both sustained concussions, as well as lacerations.

“Even in 2019 it can still happen and that the attitude of, ‘well this won’t happen in my city, this couldn’t possibly happen here,’ it’s just simply not true,” Deehring said.

Austin police are investigating the incident as a hate crime and in a statement said, “We want our community to know we do not tolerate these types of crimes.”

The designation offers some relief to the couple as they continue to heal.

“Recognizing it as a hate crime now means that they’re putting as much man power on it,” Deehring said.

“It made us at ease, because we knew that it was a hate crime. It kind of solidified it for the community, as well,” Perry said.

While they remain in disbelief that such a violent act could happen in Austin, they find comfort from the support they have gotten through messages on social media and their GoFundMe page* where they are raising money for their medical expenses. In addition, the owners of Rain and Oilcan Harry’s are offering $11,000 to anyone with information leading to an arrest.

“We can’t possible thank people enough for that. I can’t put it into words. There’s nothing but love and telling us that there’s a community out there that cares about us. This does not reflect the true people of Austin. We agree with that,” Deehring said.

The couple said while they will remain cautious, they are not changing how they will display affection in public or anything else about who they are.

“We want people to realize that the world needs more love and more acceptance. Hate needs to end. It needs to be gone,” Perry said.

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