St. Maarten Gay Bashing Case Unfolds

Oh, how glad we are not on a Dutch island in the Caribbean these days. First, Natalee Holloway disappears from Dutch-governed Aruba; now journalist Ryan Smith is in intensive care with brain damage, after being gay-bashed by a mob weilding tire irons.

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Smith was with a group of friends on vacation, when they left a bar and were attacked in the parking lot. One of his friends, Richard Jefferson, was also beaten, but he is now okay. The story was reported on Good Morning America (link includes TV footage), not only for the anti-gay nature of the attack, but because St. Maarten police chose not to investigate the incident, either out of spite against the gay victims or fear of losing future tourism business.

The kicker: Ryan Smith was not yet “out” to his family before the attack, so his boyfriend Justin Swensin, who was also at the bar but escaped the incident without injury, had to break both sets of news to Smith’s parents. Ryan’s mom responded: “It doesn’t matter if I know, if my husband knows. What’s important is that these hate crimes are unjustifiable for any reason.” Yea. Mrs. Smith, P-Flag is on the phone, they’d like you be their spokesperson forever, please.

Ryan will be hospitalized for at least a month for his injuries; the Miami-Dade Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce is providing housing in the Miami area for the Smith family, so they may temporarily relocate to the area during his treatment.

We’re quite concerned for the welfare of Ryan himself, and can’t imagine how dizzingly-surreal this ordeal must be for the parents on so many levels. We’re also never, ever going to a Dutch island ever again.