OCEANSIDE — For Geremias Martin, an openly gay Oceanside resident, a nice meal with friends turned into a fight for his life after he was stabbed in an unprovoked attack last November.
Martin, 41, was eating with two friends — another gay man and a transgender woman — on Nov. 24, 202, at a local Oceanside restaurant when a man stabbed Martin three times in the back. The three friends did not have any kind of exchange with the perpetrator prior to the attack. The suspect did not attempt to steal from the victim during the attack.
According to the North County LGBTQ Resource Center, the assailant’s only apparent motive was his hatred of LGBTQ+ people.
Using closed-circuit camera footage of the attack, Oceanside Police identified the attacker, someone who was previously known to them and filed charges of attempted murder. However, the suspect has since fled to Mexico and has not been apprehended yet.
The Resource Center originally agreed to respect the police department’s request for silence regarding the incident to avoid potential interference with the investigation. Two months after the attack, however, the Resource Center reached out to The Coast News because its advocates feel the community needs to know that hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people are still happening.
The San Diego County District Attorney’s office has yet to conclude whether or not the attack was a hate crime. According to Max Disposti, executive director of the Resource Center, attacks against LGBTQ+ individuals are more difficult to determine if they are hate crimes than racially-based attacks. Consequently, many anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes go unnoticed.
“Unless the man was screaming, ‘I’m going to kill you because you are gay,’ it’s hard to prove,” Disposti said.
Disposti noted the attack against Martin wasn’t likely racially motivated either as the attacker and Martin are both Latino. One thing appeared certain to Disposti: the attacker aimed to kill Martin.
According to Martin, his liver was punctured, requiring doctors to open Martin’s chest from his ribcage down to his belly to perform extensive surgery.
Though the outside has mostly healed, Martin’s insides will need to take longer to heal. For example, his stomach is incredibly sensitive and some foods cause him pain and discomfort.
But the attack left more than just physical injuries on Martin.
“Sometimes I can be happy, and sometimes I get angry,” Martin told The Coast News. “I get really bad anxiety and sometimes I’m suicidal.”
And this wasn’t the first time Martin had been attacked.
Earlier in the summer, Martin had been tricked and robbed while on a trip to Las Vegas. Several years earlier in 2013, Martin was severely beaten by five other people in Orange County.
Martin said he sometimes feels guilty for these attacks, which has only exacerbated his mental health issues. Before the attack, Martin had been working side jobs while attending barber school. But after his most recent hospitalization, he just couldn’t move around as he did before.
At this time, Martin’s friend got him in touch with Disposti at the Resource Center.
“I actually didn’t believe they were going to help me,” Martin said.
But the Resource Center followed through by helping provide Martin with rent money and food. And without the Resource Center’s immediate help, Martin said he likely would have been homeless by now.
While the District Attorney’s office offers support for victims of attacks by helping with medical costs, relocation expenses, mental health services and loss of income, services and assistance can take several months.
According to Martin, the most significant help the Resource Center gave him was access to therapy through their mental health services program. The program provides clinical service intakes and referrals at low or no cost. Sessions are provided by associates and licensed therapists, according to the Resource Center’s website.
“It helps talking about it,” Martin said about the attack. “The more I share about it, I think it’s better for me.”
The LGBTQ Resource Center, celebrating its 10-year anniversary this year, provides numerous other services to individuals including HIV prevention and care, transitional and crisis housing for LGBTQ+ youth, substance abuse recovery, immigration assistance, social support groups and more.
Additionally, the group also facilitates training for LGBTQ patients, employees, city workers and police officers.
Though California has progressive laws and protections for LGBTQ individuals compared to some other states, people here still experience targeted attacks, threats and discrimination. Disposti said the organization deals with a handful of incidents each year, but noted that Martin’s injuries were some of the worst he’s ever seen.
Disposti also noted that many people are afraid to go to the police or even the Resource Center for help, including Martin before Disposti reached out to him.
“People don’t always feel comfortable going to the police, so we can do it for them,” Disposti said. “We have LGBTQ liaisons in Oceanside and in almost every other North County city and the Sheriff’s Department.”
The North County LGBTQ Resource Center is calling upon the District Attorney’s office to dub this attack against Martin as a hate crime and to more swiftly assist victims like Martin. The organization is also encouraging legislators to implement clear language that will make it easier for targeted attacks against LGBTQ people to be ruled as hate crimes rather than being swept under the rug.
Martin also encourages people to come forward about incidences that happen to them.
“For whoever it is out there, it doesn’t matter if you’re LGBTQ, if you’re a victim of a violent crime report it because if you let it go then that person is going to do it over and over again,” Martin said.
Martin is grateful for the help he has received from the North County LGBTQ Resource Center, as well as the nurse and hospital staff who took care of him after the attack. He is also grateful for the help he has received from those who have donated to his GoFundMe page, which is accessible here: https://gofund.me/fd2d62be.
Despite the attack, Martin doesn’t hate the man who hurt him.
“I hate the situation he put me through, but I don’t hate him,” he said.
Though life after the attack has been difficult for Martin, he said his goals to finish school and to simply live life help him to get out of bed and continue pursuing his dreams.