Gay couple called ‘monkeypox f****ts’ by thugs during brutal homophobic attack

People wait in line for a monkeypox vaccine as a sign outside reads 'Monkeypox vaccine clinic DC residency required'

A gay couple were brutally attacked by two teenagers who beat and called them “monkeypox f****ts in Washington, US.

The couple – named in reports simply as Robert and Antonio – were walking to a bus stop on Rhode Island Avenue at 5.40pm on Sunday (7 August) to Banneker Pool and the gay bar KiKi.

Robert was wearing a Hawaiian shirt and Antonio a crop top. As they were walking a group of teenagers, two women and five males, stopped them, reports Metro Weekly.

The group reportedly assumed Robert and Antonio’s sexual orientation from the way they were dressed and began harassing them.

The male teenagers called the couple “monkeypox f****ts” and other homophobic slurs. They reportedly ignored the teens but Robert was punched in the forehead – falling to the ground – before another teen punched Antonio in the face.

At this point Robert tried to get up but he was struck again, breaking his glasses.

A female bystander who witnessed the incident called the police, but when they arrived the teens fled the scene.

The two females who were with the group tried to say sorry to the couple for the attack, but Robert refused to accept the apology.

“I was kind of p**sed and said something along the lines of, ‘This is who you hang out with? That’s f**ked up,'” he told Metro Weekly.

A small pride flag is waved in a dark street.

Robert and Antonio were taken to the emergency room following the attack. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Following the events Robert and Antonio expressed shock at a homophobic attack happening in Washington DC.

“I mainly feel shock that this could happen in DC in broad daylight, only three or four blocks from U Street, walking from a gay bar to public transit,” he said.

“Nothing like this had happened to me before, so I have no idea what it’s going to look like going forward, but it definitely will be a different feeling walking down the street for sure.”

While this isn’t Robert’s first time experiencing a physical homophobic attack and he told Metro Weekly in the past few months he has had more experiences of homophobia in “the past couple of months than I have ever before, just this summer alone”.

‘Stigma can last for decades’

Media coverage of monkeypox in 2022 has been condemned for being “homophobic and racist” – and this could explain the increase in violence LGBTQ+ people are facing, since the virus is most commonly affecting gay and bi men, and other men who have sex with men.

Dr Demetre Daskalakis previously told PinkNews the importance of avoiding health-related stigma and that HIV should be a “lesson learned”.

“You can create stigma in a moment and that can last for decades,” they said.

“It’s the role of government and governmental public health to be a role model to help media have language that works, so we don’t propagate stigma.”