On the evening of Tuesday, October 25th, spoken word artist, openly queer activist and actor, Emanuel Xavier, was brutally beaten at random by a street gang in the Bushwick area of Brooklyn. On his way to visit his mother, currently struggling with cancer, the poet was surrounded by fifteen to twenty young Latino men and punched several times in the face. The crime has not been labeled a biased attack and - though one of his poems is set to appear in King’s Court, the Almighty Latin Kings Nation newsletter - no gang affiliation has been established and is unlikely. Though he declined hospitalization, initial statements described him as badly bruised with possible hearing damage to his right ear.Andrés applauds Emanuel's courage at speaking out about this attack, as do I, and notes what an important figure in the literary and arts community he is. I concur. In addition to his seminal collection of poems Pier Queen, he also has authored Christlike and Americano, and edited a collection of spoken word poetry called Bullets & Butterflies. Emanuel has appeared on Def Comedy Jam, and in the movie The Ski Trip.
I should add that I first came across Emanuel when he worked at the now vanished A Different Light gay bookstore, which had moved only a few years before to 19th St. just off 7th Avenue. (A Different Light closed in March 2001.) That was in the mid-1990s, which now seems like a truly distant era. We didn't really make each others' acquaintance then, but we'd exchange hellos, and so when I came across Pier Queen several years later, in Creative Visions, the gay bookstore (is it still open?) that replaced A Different Light on Hudson Street, I was delighted to learn that he was a writer and to read his work. I have gotten to see him read and perform once, and it was worth the wait. I wish him a full recovery, and hope that the NYPD can apprehend all of the people involved in the vicious assault on him.
Update: Andrés has updated information on Emanuel Xavier, his recuperation and some rumors that have arisen about the attack on his Blabbeando site.