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BOSTON – The Anti-Violence Project this week called on authorities in New Hampshire to prosecute the July 29 attack on fitness expert and LGBT ally Scott Herman as a hate crime.
Herman’s fitness column and video is published Thursdays in San Diego Gay & Lesbian News.
The 26-year-old Herman told SDGLN in a story published Aug. 2 about the road rage incident that occurred in his hometown of Salem, N.H.
Herman said he was bullied and intimidated by two men, both 21-year-olds who live in Atkinson, N.H., during the road rage incident. Dean Bidgood and Michael Leavitt both face a slew of charges in the case.
“Two men came into my vehicle and tried their best to taunt me to come outside and fight them. I was in my 2011 Toyota Scion xB, which is wrapped with my name, logo and photo, so I believe I was targeted,” Herman told SDGLN.
Herman said he resisted the taunts and homophobic slurs to avoid a fight.
“…Violence is not the answer, but forgiveness is,” Herman told SDGLN.
“I believe that in my plight for anti-bullying, a situation such as this will only help me get my message out to other victims of bullying that doing the right thing and having the courage to do it is what will make you a better person,” he said.
Herman said he was bullied in his youth, which is one of the reasons he is so adamant about supporting anti-bullying efforts. LGBT youth are bullied four times as often as their peers, studies have found.
“I take my involvement with the LGBT Community on anti-bullying very seriously, which is why I spoke out,” Herman said.
The Boston-based Anti-Violence Project filed a letter-brief on Tuesday, Aug. 23, seeking authorities to prosecute the incident as an anti-gay hate crime.
The Anti-Violence Project cited New Hampshire’s anti-hate crime statute to argue that alleged offenders should be met with the enhanced penalties prescribed for bias crimes, after perpetrating the hate-laced “road rage” incident.
Herman said he pulled over his vehicle when flagged down by a couple of young men he thought he knew. He said the suspects charged at him, shouting “faggot” and other slurs. The straight ally is nationally known for supporting LGBT causes, stretching back to his days as a cast member on “The Real World – Brooklyn” when he bonded with the show’s transgender woman. He supports marriage equality, anti-bullying efforts and equality for all.
One of the suspects, Bidgood, is accused of kicking at Herman from the passenger side of the car while Herman was dialing 911. Bidgood, who has a criminal record, has a probable cause hearing in the Salem, New Hampshire District Court scheduled Wednesday, Sept. 7.
Don Gorton, Anti-Violence Project chairperson, said there is bias-indicator evidence, which is the signature of a hate crime. As the suspects accosted Herman, they yelled, “You want to get fu**ed up tonight you faggot!”
Herman said believes that he was identified by the highly-visible badging on his vehicle and singled out. Moreover, the suspects made no attempt to rob Herman.
“The only plausible motive for what happened to Scott was anti-gay hostility. Bashers don’t have reliable ‘gaydar,’” Gorton said.
“The LGBT community must stand with our straight allies as they too can become targets of homophobia. The attack on Scott was an attack on all of us,” he said.
Gorton praised Herman for remaining calm in the circumstances and not responding with violence himself.
“Scott is demanding justice under law, which is the civilized way to deal with outrageous behavior like that exhibited July 29,” he said.