Teenager, beaten up in homophobic bus attack, says: ‘I won’t stop being who I am’

A teenager who was beaten up on a bus in Bristol by a man yelling anti-gay slurs has spoken out about the attack.

Kydis Zellinger, who uses the pronouns they/them, says they are proud to be part of the LGBT+ community and that the assault “won’t stop me be from being who I am.”

The 18-year-old was attacked by 27-year old Paul Austin, of Inns Court, on October 15.

Austin pled guilty to assault by beating at Bristol Magistrates Court on October 20. He has been remanded in custody and will be sentenced on October 29.

Zellinger was left with a badly swollen face and black eyes. (Courtesy of Kydis Zellinger)

The teenager said Austin approached them and “aggressively” told them: “You little f***ing Queer who do you think you’re getting mouthy to [sic]?!”

After yelling more anti-gay slurs, Austin then beat Zellinger up, leaving them with a swollen face and two black eyes. The teen also suffered bruising to the back of their head.

A spokesperson from Avon and Somerset Police told PinkNews: “The incident has been classified as a homophobic hate crime and will be presented to the court as such.”

Zellinger also sustained bruising to the back of their head.(Courtesy of Kydis Zellinger)

Speaking to PinkNews, Zellinger said the attack had left them in “complete shock” and had a negative impact on their mental health.

“The fact that we’re living in 2018 and there are still some people who believe that hate crimes are okay is truly appalling.

“I’ve recently gained a lot of confidence within myself after dealing with some pretty rough mental health issues, and this has unfortunately set me back quite far, almost destroying a lot of milestones that I’d overcome.

“I’m hoping I’ll bounce back, and with the endless and continued support of the massive community, I truly believe that I’ll come out the other end stronger.

“Things like this can’t go ignored or unpunished, what happened to me was not okay but there are so so many other people who have had either the same treatment or worse,” the teenager said.

A man has pled guilty to the attack. (Courtesy of Kydis Zellinger)

They added that the assault would not them from proudly being part of the LGBT+ community.

They said: “Gay/Trans/Bi/any member of the LGBTQ+ society should never feel like they’re less than perfect, or deserving of hatred, because we aren’t.”

“We’re people just like anybody else and we’re not going anywhere! I can say for myself that I will continue to wear my sexuality with pride, and I am incredibly proud to be a member of the LGBTQ+ society.

“This attack won’t stop me from being who I am, so these homophobes better get used to us being around!”