Home   Google ARCHIVE SEARCH: Date:

Campaign to combat rise in gay rape

By Tamara Barak

June 21, 2007

On the eve of the annual gay pride weekend, San Francisco officials have launched a campaign to encourage gay men who have been raped to report the attacks.

The tri-lingual awareness campaign will feature posters on every Municipal Transit Agency bus in San Francisco, District Attorney Kamala Harris said in a city hall press conference Wednesday. The posters feature a man with the caption, "I thought he was a great guy ... until he raped me."

Harris was joined by San Francisco police Chief Heather Fong and Supervisor Bevan Dufty, who represents the Castro District.

Fong stressed the importance of victims coming forward as soon as possible in order to preserve evidence.

"When people are afraid to come forward, it almost empowers those who are harming us," she said.

The campaign is in response to a rise in rapes reported by gay men. According to Harris, 18 men have reported being raped since January of this year. Most of the crimes were in the Castro, she said.

Mark Welsh, who was beaten and raped by two strangers in the Castro District last year, said he hopes the campaign will result in more help to victims than he received.

Welsh's ordeal began at 10:30 p.m. on Sept. 29, when his assailants hit him from behind as he walked near Sanchez and 19th streets, he said. The pair then attempted to rob him, beating him and hurling anti-gay epithets. The men then dragged Welsh between two cars and raped him before kicking him several more times, he said.

Welsh reported the incident the following day and met with a police sketch artist. What followed, he said, were frustrating months of resistance from police.

He said the sketch of his attackers wasn't posted to the Police Department's Web site until Nov. 5, and wasn't distributed to patrol officers in the Castro until four months after the attack.

"The beat officers in the Castro had no idea what my attacker looked like. It was my responsibility, as the victim, to walk around the Castro and get (the sketches) posted," he said.

The case is considered cold, Welsh said. He believes that if police had acted more quickly, the men who brutalized him would be behind bars.

Harris said last year's string of rapes in the Castro, including Welsh's, was a wakeup call for law enforcement. She announced that her office has created a specialized lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender unit as part of its Victim Services Division.

"There will be a response that's swift - both in terms of services to the victims and severe consequences to the perpetrator," she said.

Jovida Guevara-Ross, executive director of Communities United Against Violence, said her organization gets calls about rape and hate violence every year during pride weekend. She reminded revelers to carry whistles and a charged cell phone and to create a safety plan with friends.

Copyright © 2007 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.




The Hunger Site

Cooking Classes
in Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires B&B

Calitri in southern Italy

L' Aquila in Abruzzo

Health Insurance Quotes


Bruce Brugmann's


Civic Center

Dan Noyes

Greg Dewar

Griper Blade


Malik Looper






MetroWize Urban Guide

Michael Moore

N Judah Chronicles


Robert Solis

SF Bay Guardian





SFWillie's Blog



Sweet Melissa