A fight between a Washington, D.C., drag queen and two women may have been motivated by transphobia. Bystanders did not attempt to stop the assault but instead took video and yelled encouragement, the performer says.
Heidi Glüm, a well-known drag performer whose real name is Miles DeNiro, said he was attacked Saturday night at a local after-hours pizza shop called Manny & Olgas, Queerty reports. The incident was caught on video later posted on World Star Hip Hop, a site that often features candid footage of brawls.
In a phone interview with The Huffington Post, DeNiro said the fight started after one of the two female attackers criticized his makeup. The verbal sparring quickly became physical.
"It started over some stupid, petty drunk girl drama," DeNiro said.
In the video, one of the women repeats the phrase "That's a man," as another customer tells her to "beat [DeNiro's] ass."
Feeling threatened, he said he spit at one of the women -- an action that prompted them to throw punches. DeNiro, who sustained several bumps to the head and gash on his forehead, said he didn't want to hit back because at the end of the day, "I'm a man, and they're women." However, he said he was scared the fight was "going to escalate into something awful."
"No one helped me. No one did anything," DeNiro told HuffPost. "I got assaulted for being mistaken as a trans person. I think that's just awful."
The Metropolitan Police Department confirmed to HuffPost that an incident report has been filed. A representative said authorities were looking into the matter but would not provide further comment.
Although this incident has not been officially labeled a hate crime, the city has long struggled to quash crimes against its trans community.
In February of 2012, JaParker Jones was stabbed to death in an attack her parents are convinced was motivated by her sexuality. That June, D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier enlisted the help of the Anti-Defamation League to work with the city’s Hate Crimes Review Task Force.
Still, in March three men were accused of beating and kicking a transgendered person and a friend in an alleged hate crime in Silver Spring, according to Silver Spring Patch. The suspects made discriminatory comments before the assault, the report notes.
Performer DeNiro said he does not feel safe in the city when he's in costume and is "very, very, very hesitant to go to any of my shows alone."
"I get a lot of hate when I go out, even when I'm not in drag, because I'm different," he added. "Sometimes it's a little scary."