An Atlanta gay man is speaking out after he and his boyfriend were the victims of an anti-gay attack.
Marquez Tolbert, 21, says he and his boyfriend, Anthony Gooden, 23, were doused with boiling hot water on Feb. 12 as they lay sleeping in the living room of the College Park apartment of Tolbert’s mother’s after a long day of work. The attack caused second and third degree burns on the necks, backs and arms of the young couple.
Project Q first broke the story on Tuesday.
“Tolbert said that he and Gooden left work at a nearby warehouse at about 7 a.m. on Feb. 12 and went to the Alexandria Landing apartment in College Park where Gooden lived with his mom. The two regularly spent time at the apartment and often slept there overnight during the nearly six weeks they dated.
They were asleep on a mattress in the living room when Martin Luther Blackwell, 48, arrived. Blackwell was dating Gooden’s mom but didn’t live at the apartment. He spotted the two men asleep and attacked them, according to an incident report from the College Park Police Department.
Blackwell allegedly told police that he couldn’t stand to see the two men sleeping together.
“They was stuck together like two hot dogs, so I poured a little hot water on them and helped them out,” Blackwell told investigators.
“They was stuck like two hot dogs. They’ll be alright, it was just a little hot water.”
In an interview with WSB, Tolbert spoke of the terrifying night and the excruciating pain that followed.
“The pain doesn’t let you sleep. It’s just, like, it’s excruciating, 24 hours a day, and it doesn’t go anywhere,” said Tolbert. “It doesn’t dial down, anything. It’s just there.”
Tolbert says Blackwell “pulled him up and said, ‘Get out of my house with all that gay shit!’”
According to WSB, Tolbert spent 10 days at Grady Memorial Hospital undergoing surgery that took skin from his thigh to replace skin on his back. Gooden was released from the hospital on March 11.
Blackwell has been arrested and charged with two counts of aggravated battery and is currently being held in the Fulton County Jail. It remains to be seen if Blackwell will face federal hate crime charges for his role in the attack. Georgia is one of five states in the nation without a hate crime law.
At press time, a Go Fund Me campaign launched by Vickie Gray, a friend of the Tolbert family has raised over $10,000 towards a $30,000 goal in the 17 days the campaign has been live. Those donating through the Go Fund Me website are given an up-close look at the extent of the physical harm the two men endured at the hands of Blackwell.
Gray says Tolbert’s mother has also suffered throughout this ordeal.
“When he came out to her, she told me that her son being harmed was her greatest fear. It’s a shame that our society places that kind on fear in a parent’s heart. It gives you a feeling of helplessness, and when it actually occurs, you lose hope. Marquez is home now, but has a long road to recovery. Through it all, he has remained strong and not disheartened by what has happened to him. I am so impressed by his character. He has been focused on healing, and in a way, has been holding up his mother.”
Tolbert tells Project Q that he’s thankful for the donations and support he’s received from the community.
“It gives you that feeling that not everybody in the world is bad. I am just glad there are people out there that care enough that they want to help,” he said.