An Irish author who had his nose and cheekbone broken in a homophobic attack in Dublin has said the experience brought him back to darker times.
Gavin McCrea was badly beaten by a group of boys, aged 12 to 14-years-old, in Dodder Park in Rathgar earlier this month.
The 42-year-old told Newstalk he was walking home through the south Dublin park when the boys started harassing him.
They threw stones at him and started pushing him and shouting homophobic slurs.
“There were two ringleaders,” he said. “The ones pushing me and shouting abuse and four others behind who were laughing and kind of spectators.”
Disgusted and saddened. Hope Gavin McCrea makes a speedy recovery.
— Patricia Forde (@PatriciaForde1) February 11, 2020
The boys ran away after he made it out onto the main road and tried to flag down passing cars; however, the ordeal continued after he “perhaps naively” turned back down into the park further down the road.
“In a kind of dark narrow section with the river on one side and trees on the other, I was attacked from behind,” he said.
“I don’t know how many attacked me. All I know there was at least three maybe four of them there. They got me on the ground and beat me in the face with kicks and punches.”
He said he was covered in blood after the attack and made his way to Orwell Road where a passing couple came to his aid and called the Gardaí.
He was taken to St James’s Hospital where he was treated for a broken nose and broken cheekbone.
We've recently welcomed our new colleague Dr Gavin McCrea to UL - our 2020 Writer in Residence. Last weekend in Dublin, he was badly beaten in a homophobic attack. All of Gavin's friends and colleagues at UL stand beside him in solidarity. https://t.co/Ipgft3qpK7
— SarahMooreFitzgerald (@SMooreFitz) February 8, 2020
He said he has been targeted many times over his sexuality, although the injuries he suffered were worse than ever before.
“I have been beaten up before,” he said. “bullied, name-calling you name it. So this, for me, was not a new experience. This, for me, was a re-visitation.”
“The boys were the same age as the boys who bullied me in the past. They looked the same, they spoke the same, their gestures are the same and the violence is more or less the same.
“It just so happened that, on this particular occasion, they hit me in a way that broke a bone.”
We all know how much Ireland has changed, esp in terms of LGBTI rights. Yet, last week, our @UL @artscouncil_ie Writer in Residence, Gavin McCrea, was attacked in Dublin’s leafy suburbs, his bones broken by a teenage gang. We’ve still a ways to go on tolerance & anti-bullying 🌈 https://t.co/R0CEhZM3s9
— Tina O'Toole (@isdoighliom) February 8, 2020
The Dublin-born author was shortlisted for several awards for his debut novel Mrs Engels.
He spent 20 years living abroad before returning to Ireland – and had just emailed his second novel to his editor on the day he was attacked.
“It was kind of a new beginning for me in Ireland,” he said. “Things were going very smoothly. I felt very welcome, the people around me were brilliant people and I was reminded how amazing Irish people were.
“I was actually very positive about my return to Ireland.”
He said that although Ireland has changed for the better over the years, there are always those who are left behind.
“For me, this was just a reminder that change anywhere is very uneven,” he said. “It happens in pockets and islands and there is always a chance you will walk out of that pocket and into a space where change hasn’t happened yet.
“As LGBT people, we are always aware that you can walk off that little island of change. That little network of people you have gathered around you, who love you and understand you.
“You can always walk off that island and step into dangerous territory. Even after legislation has changed, even after attitudes have changed, there is always a danger there.”
Mr McCrea said he it was important to him to speak out about what happened to “face old trauma and old hurt and come to terms with that” adding that he was met with "incredible support and incredible love."
“I think when you do speak out and you speak from a place of sincerity that is what you find, is other people sincerely support you and that is really positive,” he said.
Gardaí said no arrests have been made in relation to the assault and their investigations are ongoing.
Reporting from Josh Crosbie