Caribbean homophobic attack victims speak out

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The family of one of the producers attacked in the Caribbean last month have spoken of their shock at how the homophobic assault has affected him.

Ryan Smith, 25, a top producer with the David Letterman show and CBS news, has been left with speech and writing problems as well as surgical scars.

His mother, Patricia Smith, who did not know her son was gay until the attack, told the Miami Herald, “I had an idea but he never shared it with us. I felt he was waiting to talk to us about it.

“We love him dearly. Nothing can change that, we’ve had a quick learning curve. But we accept him as he is.

“He was never at a loss for words. That hasn’t changed. He still has a lot to say.

“But he was always able to finish his sentences.”

His boyfriend, Justin Swensen, 23, recalled the attack to the paper, “We were just holding each other in the bar. We were not kissing, not making out. Some guys just started screaming. Yelling. Overreacting. I heard one of them say ‘buttboys.’ The bouncer asked if we would move and we did because we didn’t want any trouble.”

He said he and Mr Smith then met Dick Jefferson, the other attack victim.

Witnesses said a car with three or four people then drove towards them clipping Mr Smith, Mr Swensen said: “I saw the car stop and somebody get out.

“I was panicked, then a guy says to me, ‘You’ve got to get out of here or something is going to happen to you, too.’ All of a sudden, I see Ryan staggering back. . . . I can see he’s covered in blood. Blood is pouring out of the wound in his head. . . . I see Dick with a shocked look on his face. He’s holding his head.”

Mr Jefferson, 51, criticised the police’s lazy attitude after Mr Smith was left with brain damage in the attack, he said: “Their attitude was sort of like, ‘It’s a tourist, who cares?'”

Mr Smith said: “I know these guys almost killed me. But you know what? They are not going to affect who I am.

“I have to talk. I am a journalist. I’m all about talking about the truth, I don’t want anyone to go through what happened to all of us. There were times I was in the hospital that I didn’t know how to talk. I couldn’t read. I couldn’t watch TV. I didn’t know what people were talking about.”

A male and female St Maarten resident were arrested last weekend and more are expected.