Update: New details have emerged in the case of the assault on Randy Gener.
According to the article filed on GMA News by L. P. Pelayo, witnesses have come forward, and the person responsible for the injury to Gener has been identified. Witnesses including Leighton Jennings who caused the injury, claim that Gener was involved with a physical altercation with a woman on the street which evolved into a fight with Jennings in which Gener fell, cracking his head on the sidewalk. Jennings has been charged with third-degree assault misdemeanor and has been released from custody. According to the article, Gener, recovering from brain surgery, cannot remember the incident. Gener’s husband, Stephen Nisbet, said “he does deny that he has ever been aggressive or violent against women.” Gener is facing additional surgery and at least a year of rehabilitation.
The following article was published January 28th based on the information released by police at that time.
A popular freelance arts journalist is spending the evening with the New York theatre community he loves. He is handsome, of Filipino heritage, slightly built, impeccably dressed and smiles easily. He attends the opening night of Machinal on Broadway, then on to the after party. It’s nearly 4 am when he heads to his home in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood.
There is a young man prowling the streets of Hell’s Kitchen that night. Who he is and what or who he loves and why he is out that night is, tragically, a complete mystery. All we know is he appeared, to an observer, to be Hispanic, approximately 6 feet tall, weighing perhaps 160 pounds and was wearing black jeans and a black jacket. What he is about to do is nearly incomprehensible.
The journalist stops to buy a magazine, thinking he’d check it out and perhaps pitch an article. He can see home up ahead. He is just a few steps from safety when he is savagely attacked, beaten with such strength that the blows cave in the side of his head. The attacker flees, leaving him unconscious in the middle of the street, in a pool of blood.
This occurred the evening of January 17th, and the journalist is Randy Gener, who some of you may know.
Here is how Sharon Adarlo from the Fil-Am Press Club describes Randy: “Straddling the worlds of theater, art, media, the LGBT and the Filipino American community, Gener is also an integral member of the Press Club’s special projects group. He is an awarding winning writer, editor, artist, and critic. He has written for various news outlets, including the New York Times, the Star-Ledger, and the Village Voice. He has penned plays such as Love Seats for Virginia Woolf and other works. Gener is also well known for his conceptual art and his exhibits on Filipino American history. He has lectured on various subjects across the world, from Kansas to India.”
To which we add that Randy has frequently been heard on NPR and was a senior editor of American Theatre Magazine where he specialized in international theater and where he was working when he won the prestigious Nathan Award for theatre criticism in 2008.
Randy was speaking at a conference of The American Theatre Critics Association when I first met him. He was charismatic and posed some provocative questions to the assembled writers. I invited him to speak to our DC Theatre Scene writers, and from there I became part of his expanding network. As a result of connecting with one of our writers, Hunter Styles, Randy recommended him to the editor of American Theatre magazine, which led to several assignments for Hunter. Randy freely responded to my questions, no matter where in the world I happened to find him.
I share part of his holiday email this year, describing how he spent 2013: “organizing a cultural event for the Swedish Embassy in the U.S.; participating in Theatre for the Voiceless symposium; remembering Nelson Mandela on Arise TV; producing a brunch meet-up with the cast of the Public Theater’s HERE LIES LOVE; and organizing an international journalism seminar at a Boston media conference.”
Against all odds, Randy has miraculously survived the brutal attack. He is in Intensive Care at St. Luke’s Hospital in New York, having undergone surgery to his shattered skull. His husband of 19 years, Stephen Nisbet, is with him. He is in stable condition, his motor skills are returning, and he will begin the long painful road to recovery which includes time in a rehabilitation facility and a second major surgery.
Friends and family held a prayer vigil Monday night. “I truly believe Randy is being healed by prayer.” Stephen told CBS/New York. People are also leaving messages on Randy Gener’s Facebook page. A fund has been set up to help pay for Randy’s rehabilitation expenses. Contributions can be made here. http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/for-randy-gener/130589. So far, 792 people have contributed over $40,000 to help with his recovery.
We urge anyone who knows anything about the attack that occurred on January 17th at West 54th Street and Seventh Avenue to call New York Police 800-577-TIPS. The police are widely distributing this sketch of the suspect.
Even as the community surrounds Randy and Stephen with love, the questions remain. Who was the attacker? What was in his mind? Was he driven by hate because Randy is gay? Or Filipino? Or seen as part of the gentrification happening in Hell’s Kitchen? Or, maybe even worse, did it not matter who he was? Was the attacker taking part in a “knockout game”?
Family and friends are looking for justice. We believe Randy would be the first to look for understanding.