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Saturday, August 9, 2008

Grant Cogswell Alleges Gay Bashing in Belltown

posted by on August 9 at 16:22 PM

Local filmmaker and former city council candidate and monorail activist Grant Cogswell and a friend were attacked in Belltown last night in what appeared to be a gay-bashing that sent both men to the hospital.

At about 1:30 this morning, Cogswell says, he and a friend (who was in drag) were leaving a party at the Free Sheep Foundation in Belltown when a group of men in a late-model, red Dodge Magnum wagon began harassing them. One of the four men in the car shouted “you fucking faggots,” at Cogswell and his friend. (Cogswell says his friend is straight and he is “mostly straight”.) Cogswell yelled back “go back to Yakima if you don’t like seeing people in drag.”


The car stopped and as the four men piled out, Cogswell says he sat down on the sidewalk, hoping to avoid a physical confrontation. “I don’t know how we’d have outrun these four dudes and I didn’t want to square off in fisticuffs,” he says.

When the men approached Cogswell, he says, he asked them, “Guys, what’s up? There’s four of you [and] my friend’s in high heels.” Cogswell says he spoke briefly with one of the men before one of them attacked him, kneeing him in the face several times.

Cogswell ran out into the street, turned back and saw the men were attacking his friend. Bystanders approached the group of men, who then jumped back in the car and drove away.

Cogswell and his friend were taken to the hospital, where Cogswell received five stitches in his cheek, and doctors found that his right orbital bone—one of the bones around the eye socket—had been fractured and his front teeth badly chipped. Cogswell says there’s a possibility that his fractured orbital bone could pinch a nerve or a muscle and require surgery. Cogswell’s friend had with scrapes and bruises.

Cogswell was only able to give police a vague description of his attackers, but he says the man who kicked him was about 5’8 and Hispanic, wearing a white T-shirt. Cogswell says the attacker was accompanied by two tall black men—one of whom was wearing a blue jacket—and a tall white man with brown hair.

In the last year, there have been a number of recent violent attacks in Belltown, but Cogswell—who used to live in the neighborhood—says he’s never seen anything like this happen.

I’ll update with info about the SPD investigation when it becomes available.

RSS icon Comments


I don't have words for how terrible that is.

Hope the description above can help the cops catch these fuckers.

Posted by Trevor | August 9, 2008 2:06 PM

Man, the images of drag queens with revolvers kneecapping homophobic douchebags are really making me relax my stance on gun control.

Posted by demo kid | August 9, 2008 2:11 PM

Man, that's fucked up. I gotta say, coming from a place where stuff like this is a lot more common, that the best reaction to shouted bullshit from a car is to bite your tongue and start considering your best escape route. I am certainly not blaming the victim, just saying the guys in the car usually want you to give them an excuse, and they might know something you don't about what kind of weapons they're carrying.

Hope Mr. Cogswell and friend are alright.

Posted by flamingbanjo | August 9, 2008 2:20 PM

“You’re in the city,” he says. “If you don’t like it, go back to Yakima.”

HA HA! You tell 'em Grant, fucking Yakima idiots! If only we could have more insight like this on our City Council!

Truly sorry to hear of your incident. But also sorry to hear you're back in the closet....

PS 'The Stranger' might mention that Grant was a former writer for their paper. You know, to explain the excessive coverage of everything he does.

Posted by Kevin Lovak | August 9, 2008 2:46 PM

Fucking Belltown. The whole vibe there is just Kardashian lately. All these Gotti wannabes, flat-iron hair, spray-on tans, $30K millionaires (look it up), and the Abercrombie & Fitch brigade doused in cologne, ick.

Anyway, hope they catch these tools.

Posted by and they will | August 9, 2008 2:56 PM

A Hispanic, two blacks and a white guy? I guess it can be noted that this group of homophobic thugs does believe in racial harmony.

Posted by Bont | August 9, 2008 3:10 PM

Pls. do not confuse Armenians with one Hispanic, two blacks and a white.

It's hard enough telling the Georgians from the Osettians, and the D'Agostinos.

Posted by PC | August 9, 2008 3:19 PM

Sorry to hear that Grant got jumped. Unfortunately, Belltown like Pioneer Square tends to attract idiots from across the region. I disagree with Grant's "boys will be boys" attitude. Nobody has a right to bash someone whether they live in Seattle or Yakima. It is bullshit in either place.

I suppose Grant will be suing the City now for not providing protection.

Posted by Zander | August 9, 2008 4:34 PM

Get well soon, Grant -- completely unearned bad fortune for a guy who tried so hard to get something truly progressive done about transit in this town.

I make a mean chicken soup if you think it will help...

Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | August 9, 2008 4:55 PM

Just who was in drag? Who is indentified as the companion with no name....why the secret?

Dan? Back on the streets in dress up?

This trend toward violence in party neighborhoods has to be stopped.

Sounds like Bellevue or Yakima might be safer... course, Spanish would help in Yakima

Good gear and high end drugs would help in Bellevue

Posted by Adam | August 9, 2008 5:06 PM

This truly sucks--I hope Grant and his friend will be OK. But I'm with Zander @8 above--no one should have to put up with this bullshit whether they live in a big city or not. I hope they throw the book at these fuckers.

Posted by RainMan | August 9, 2008 5:23 PM

I hope Grant and his friend will be OK soon and that they catch the morons who did this quickly.

It was just a few weeks ago that a Microsoft guy was punched out in Belltown and police promised to step up patrols in the area. Guess the added patrols aren't doing much good.

Posted by PopTart | August 9, 2008 5:38 PM

Did he tell them to go back to Yakima because one of them was Hispanic? Classy move guy.

Posted by Holiday | August 9, 2008 6:45 PM

Hey, thanks everyone for the support -doing good (yay! not crosseyed like this morning!) - I didn't mean go back to Yakima if you don't like getting your ass kicked by thugs, I told the guys go back to Yakima if they didn't like seeing dudes in women's clothing.

And I just told the reporter I was still 'mostly' straight, (68% as I once told the PI) No closet here. My buddy, on the other hand, like most guys who cross dress, is rating around 100%. Gay bashing was the intent, whether or not it its effect entirely was.

Lots of love out there thanks everyone and best to the folks at Harborview, they are magnificent!

Posted by Grant Cogswell | August 9, 2008 6:51 PM

So, I guess Grant's point is that there are no gay people or cross-dressers in Yakima?


(Get well, dude.)

Posted by Ryan | August 9, 2008 6:55 PM

Oh, no, 13, I didn't even see that anyone was (maybe Latino), I said that when they were in the car, and that was my friend's (possible) description of the guy who kicked me - he also said maybe he was white/black, I didn't even see it coming when he kicked me, I was talking to the tall guy. I'm trying to start a bookstore in Mexico - not trying to diss people who come there to work or Latinos at all, just pulled that from my reptile-brain list of remote cities where folks might be less appreciative of gender-creative dress.

Posted by Grant Cogswell | August 9, 2008 7:00 PM

I was verbally harassed on fucking 10th and Pike the other day because I 'looked gay'. That hasn't happened to me in many years, and I've walked those streets in an infinite variety of gender expressions. It's a sickening reality on the Hill as well as in Belltown.

Grant, I trust you'll be OK, and your mystery friend as well.

Posted by It's Mark Mitchell | August 9, 2008 7:10 PM

Sitting on a curb isn't really one of your best defensive stances for a potential altercation following a call and response verbally aggressive lead up. Just a hint.

Posted by Bob | August 9, 2008 7:12 PM

I wish you well, Grant. But, ...mostly straight? How about bi?

Posted by Fitz | August 9, 2008 7:51 PM

@7 - I didn't confuse anything. I never saw the four suspects. Perhaps you did? You seem to know more than you're letting on.

Posted by reverend al sharpton | August 9, 2008 7:56 PM

Bob, I just r-r-r-r-r-r-r-real- real- real- real- f-f-f-f-figure out. You're Otto from A Fish Called Wanda.

Take care, Grant.

Posted by elenchos | August 9, 2008 8:08 PM

I really respect your attitude Grant. I hope these fuckers get what's coming to them. They are obviously the most pathetic type of people if they need to drive into Belltown and bash gays for fun.

This falls squarely in the lap of our idiotic politicians and religious leaders who have no good reason to get people to follow them so they start pointing the finger at minority groups. Fear spreads and this happens.

Posted by Cale | August 9, 2008 8:28 PM

And Elenchos, you're a hyperthyroidal pomeranian who likes to hump shins. Shoo, stalker boy.

Posted by Bob | August 9, 2008 9:25 PM

Send the fucking fag bashers over to B'town, we will kick the shit out of them and beat them with sticks.

Posted by Gabe | August 9, 2008 10:34 PM

"Sitting on a curb isn't really one of your best defensive stances for a potential altercation..."

Grant, that response took guile and courage. There have been at least 4 incidents in the last year where someone was punched and then died or went into a coma when their head hit the ground. Who knows, sitting on the ground may have saved your life. Sorry this happened, but glad you and your friend are basically ok.

P.S. Once I started your piece in The Stranger on Cthulhu, I couldn't put it down. Fascinating stuff. I'm rooting for you, man.

Posted by Sean | August 9, 2008 10:55 PM

ok- I may be a girl- but I KNOW that is NOT a picture of a LATE MODEL Magnum. THIS- is a late model Magnum-

Since when is 2005 a Late Model? haha.

Posted by Flinga | August 9, 2008 11:28 PM

ok- here's a link to the REAL Magnum in question- (probably)

Posted by flinga | August 9, 2008 11:30 PM

Condolences to the victims. This is further proof that anyone who drives a Dodge Magnum is an asshole.

Posted by Mike | August 10, 2008 12:19 AM

Hey Grant! Well it was good to see your name in the press again, but horrible to see the circumstances. I wish you and your buddy a speedy recovery, and look forward to reading more positive stories in the future about the projects you're up to these days.

Posted by Scott Kennedy | August 10, 2008 4:51 AM

The next time you choose to wear female clothing, don't forget to add your fashion statement for the 21 century. A fine leather purse with your pistol inside. Punks check in but, they never check out.

Posted by papillon | August 10, 2008 6:17 AM

Gotta love Belltown.

Posted by Jason | August 10, 2008 7:25 AM

Does anyone here seriously think the police really care? They have potheads to harass!

Posted by UnCommonSense | August 10, 2008 8:07 AM

Bob? Shoo? You're trying to shoo me from the Slog? Probably not going to happen.

Posted by elenchos | August 10, 2008 8:36 AM

Grant: I wish you and your friend a speedy recovery and lots of support.

Wouldn't it be great if 100's of people, dressed in drag, took over Belltown at 2:00am on a Saturday night?

Posted by ? | August 10, 2008 9:01 AM

Do we really know that it was a Hispanic? I do know a dumbass bunch that resembles this (no, I don't know what kind of car they drive- but it seems in character). But the extra member is South Asian, not Hispanic.

Posted by Scott Dow | August 10, 2008 9:23 AM

This is terrible and horrible.

However, as a straight person, I find that the daily harassment of straight males by gays gets worse everyday.

Last night I was at 24 hour fitness club on Kent East Hill and I had like 10 dudes walk by me while I was on the Ski-Climber stare at me. My response is to close my eyes and hope they go away, but there's always more.

Posted by John Bailo | August 10, 2008 9:30 AM

John Bailo @ 36,

Two men get beat up and hospitalized for being perceived to be gay (regardless of their actual orientation). And you are whining about being stared at? Get some perspective dude. Oh, and being stared at hardly qualifies as harassment. The proper response is to get over it. I don't go away just because someone wishes it.

Posted by SDA in SEA | August 10, 2008 9:48 AM

@20. I think #7 was referring to the fact that the Kardashians are Armenian.

Posted by Julie | August 10, 2008 10:18 AM

Grant, I hope you both heal quickly, but did you really run while your friend got a beat down? Say it ain't so.

You also should have said "Go back to Auburn." It would have been more apt.

Posted by elswinger | August 10, 2008 10:29 AM

Next time walk away. Keep your mouth shut. Escalate the situation and expect to get the worse end of it.

Posted by Jeff | August 10, 2008 12:31 PM

Elswinger, I ran about ten feet (into the street, perpendicular to the incident) before I turned around. When you are getting kicked in the face the world kind of disappears for a second and you just need to MOVE. As soon as I got to my friend the fistfight was over. He was handling the two dudes magnificently, though.

Posted by Grant Cogswell | August 10, 2008 12:39 PM

I've been jumped five times since high school (three times for being devilishly handsome with style to burn) and I've developed a few basic rules. They apply to assholes of all races and income categories:

1. Try to avoid yelling something back. This will eliminate 90% of the problem; however, if someone asks if you're a faggot, the answer is always yes, regardless of your actual sexual orientation.

2. Whether or not you're going to get your ass kicked depends on the number of people in the car or on the sidewalk, as well as the combination of sexes. One guy and his girlfriend, you're probably okay, unless he's a total lunatic. Two guys and one girl is actually safer. More than two guys, with no women, it's on. Nobody will want to be the one to back off against a "faggot."

3. If three or more guys get out of the car, it's too late. There's no talking your way out of it. Assuming a subordinate physical posture will only encourage the weakest among your attackers that they're not going to get hurt if they pummel you. The best policy is to hit one of them as hard as you can in the nose or throat. As a rule, douchebags like to start an assault with a little small talk. This is your first and only opportunity to save yourself (remember, it's too late to avoid a physical altercation with appeals to reason or pity). If you punch first, without saying anything, you'll disrupt their natural flow. Paradoxically, hitting first will actually shorten/help you avoid a worse beating. More on this later.

4. Make a lot of noise. Shriek, scream, bellow. This will freak them out, and encourage passerby to interfere or call the police.

5. Don't ever ditch your friends. If your friend is getting his ass kicked, try to jump in to protect him (but don't directly try to attack his attacker. This is free license for his friends to jump in, if they're not doing it already). Rushing the pile to protect your friend demonstrates that you actually have a little heart, and the assault will usually end right there. Form a fetal phalanx and yell like hell. You'll feel stupid afterward, but at least you won't be a punk.

6. Don't run. You're scared and disoriented, and they'll catch you, probably in a darker, scarier spot than the one you just fled. If you have to run, run into the street and try to fuck up traffic. Run into an open business if there is one. Usually, the average douchebag will avoid following, even if it's only into a gas station or convenience store.

7. If you're getting jumped, anything goes. Go ahead- bite his face. Stomp him in the balls. Stick your car keys through his windpipe. Fighting dirty will actually help you get through it faster, especially if one of them gets hurt really, really bad. And if one of them ends up in the hospital, they're a lot easier for the cops to catch. Most people would disagree with this, but it's a fact. Try to hurt one of them really badly, and they'll actually knock it off sooner.

8. Douchebags have certain goals when they attack someone: Impress their friends with how tough they are without disrupting the flow of the evening by going to jail or experiencing personal injury. They don't want to kill you, they just don't want their friends to think that they're faggots.

Posted by demolator | August 10, 2008 12:56 PM

(1) Of course neither Grant nor his friend deserved this, and they need to catch the perps, but can we all agree that shouting something at a carload of young punks late at night is ALWAYS a bad idea? No matter the context?

(2) I love the idea that the perps were "others" who came into Belltown to cause problems. News flash: there are reactionary dipshits living downtown, too. Sadly. High rents are no inoculation.

Posted by Big Sven | August 10, 2008 1:57 PM

I'm so tired of this crap. Maybe some day people will have respect for other people.

And where were all the potential witnesses? 1:30am in Belltown and no one intervenes or gets a license plate? It's up to all of us, not just the cops, to make it clear this is not tolerated in our city.

And the guy equating a beating with being checked out at the gym as the same type of harassment? Stupid. But next time you're staring at a hot woman, think about how you're making her feel.

Posted by Matt | August 10, 2008 3:01 PM

In the past Cogswell has claimed he was bisexual. He also claimed to be a Republican at a precinct meeting I chaired some years ago. Apparently he lied about both. I take these new claims with the appropriate grain of salt.

Posted by Waldo | August 10, 2008 4:30 PM

#42's excellent comment should be laminated in BIG font (easier to read when blitzed) and handed out to all young males who leave their homes and apartments at night.

The only useful thing I've ever read here. Nice job.

Posted by Bob | August 10, 2008 5:59 PM

Grant needs to hang out with more convincing drag queens.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | August 10, 2008 6:59 PM


I'm so glad you and your friend are all right - bad as this was, it could have been much, much worse.

That said, for future reference, Jeff @ 40 and Big Sven @ 43 are correct, if you don't want a fight, don't yell back - that's exactly the excuse dickheads like this are looking for.

But if you do (and heaven knows that's my usual response to this sort of provocation), assume it's on, and if you can't run follow the advice @42. Fight back hard and immediately - if your assailants aren't armed (which is sadly increasingly likely these days) it really is the only course of action open to you if someone intends to hurt you. I would differ just a bit from the advice @42 regarding not running, though, in that assholes like this are unlikely to follow you too far away from their car. Sounds like your friend couldn't flee, however, so that doesn't really apply in your particular situation.

Also - @25, if you're on the ground, getting your head stomped into the pavement isn't going to leave you any better off than someone who falls and hits their head from a standing position. Should you find yourself in this predicament - go fetal and put your head between your arms. You can die from broken ribs, to be sure, but it's a lot less likely than if you suffer a traumatic brain injury.

BTW - your response @36 says a lot about you, Mr. Bailo. On the occasions when I've been hit on by gay men I tell em I'm flattered but they're barking up the wrong tree. How hard (heh, heh - he said hard) is that? In case you weren't aware of it, the incidence of men being raped by men is pretty much nonexistent outside of prison. That you would even invoke this in this context is completely inexcusable.

It isn't an exaggeration to say that the vibe in Belltown has gotten a lot uglier in the last year (and I say this as someone who thinks that most public safety fears in Seattle really are kind of overblown) - and the utter lack of a serious response from the Mayor and SPD to the recent spate of incidents there is truly baffling.

Take care of yourself, Grant - the psychic damage from getting beaten up will probably be with you longer than the physical injuries.

Posted by Mr. X | August 10, 2008 8:28 PM

John Bailo: Don't you wish Slog offered the ability to delete a stupid comment you made earlier?

If you don't, you should.

Posted by rjh | August 10, 2008 11:06 PM

How awful; I'm glad you're okay, Grant and friend.

I'm finding that Seattle has become exponentially less enjoyable and increasingly devoid of personality over the last 3-4 years. I'm not sure what or why, but *something* has changed. Where is Seattle heading? What is Seattle's raison d'etre? All of the spaces and landmarks that made/make Seattle truly unique are disappearing. Gay-bashers and assholes are permeating Ballard, Belltown, Cap Hill, and the U District. Let's not even discuss the Eastside. Sure, Bellevue's always been the home of douchebag yuppies, but Kirkland and Redmond used to be dowdy little sleepy suburbs where owning an Audi was looked on as a mite presumptuous. Everyone here's getting more high-strung. Dare I say it...I'm almost at the point where I don't *like* Seattle anymore. I feel like a change of atmosphere is overdue. Ah, midnight ramblings...

Posted by laterite | August 11, 2008 12:20 AM

I've said it before. DON'T YELL BACK!!! That is FUCKING STUPID and it's what they want you to do.

Posted by Vince | August 11, 2008 6:17 AM

uh,yeah; a good rule of thumb is, don't yell back unless you know for a fact that you out man and out gun them...and if assholes start giving you verbal shit on the street and it seems strongly possible it might get physical, IMMEDIATELY get on your cell phone and call the cops AND try to get to a safe place, (a nearby store or anyplace with lots of potential witnesses)

Posted by michael strangeways | August 11, 2008 9:05 AM

I'll second Mike @28. The Dodge Magnum seems to be the car of choice for aggressive assholes. Not to mention the obvious small penis syndrome connotations of driving a long, wide car called "magnum".

You and your friend get well soon, Grant.

Posted by Hernandez | August 11, 2008 9:42 AM

Assuming this happened near the address on the Free Sheep Foundation's website (3rd and Battery), I'm not at all surprised. That's only one block from shitbird central, aka 2nd/3rd and Bell.

Posted by john cocktosin | August 11, 2008 9:56 AM

@32 for the win. @42 for the really useful advice.

Oh, and keys make wonderful fist jewelry, by the way, especially splayed between your fingers, even if you have nails on.

Posted by Will in Seattle | August 11, 2008 10:09 AM

I wish shit like this would happen when the my friends and I are rolling down the street...I'd love to come up on douchebags trying to jump someone because they are gay and turn the tables tables on them...

Posted by Jeremy from Seattle | August 11, 2008 10:14 AM

Ugh. I was in Belltown on Saturday with a friend (not by choice) and a couple of guys called us "faggots" as they walked past us in a crosswalk. It must have been either my friend's mohawk or our combined sense of superior style, because neither one of us is actually gay. I just laughed it off, but after reading Grant's story, I find what happened to me and my friend a little more frightening.

I'll never understand what makes straight guys so insecure that they feel threatened by even perceived faggotry. Hope you have a speedy recovery, Grant!

Posted by T | August 11, 2008 10:59 AM

The advice at 42 is good for people of both genders.

@36: gives you a little empathy for the unwanted attention women get from straight men, no? Although, like women, you have a lot more to fear from professed straight men than you do from those gay guys at the gym.

Also, I recommend a self-defense class at Home Alive for both men and women. Very empowering.

Posted by exelizabeth | August 11, 2008 11:29 AM

I like Cogswell, I voted for him.
And the aggression and violence of the 4 men is totally wrong.
I hope Cogswell and his friend get well soon.
However, He he should learn a little more common street sense. If your going to yell something back at a carload of guys who are obviously looking for trouble, You better be prepared to stand and fight.
If you dont want to fight, or dont believe in it.. then let the comments go. Reacting to their comments gives them what they want.

Posted by joel | August 11, 2008 11:30 AM

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