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Miami 'Top Chef' gay bashing: "I feel like I was run over by a truck"

BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@miamiherald.com

ChefTV Top Chef contestant Josie Smith-Malave felt the hatred as a mob of a dozen teenagers surrounded her and two other women, kicking and punching them while yelling anti-gay epithets.

Escorted out of a Long Island bar after two women danced together, Smith-Malave, who grow up in Hialeah and Kendall, her sister Julie Smith, 30, of Miami, and a friend say they were beaten and attacked by an angry gang who followed them outside.

"They started to scream `f--king dykes, f--king lesbians!'' Smith-Malave said Wednesday.

The attack took place Sept. 1 in the resort town of Sea Cliff in Nassau County's North Shore.

The sisters spent Labor Day weekend together in New York. That Saturday, they and a friend, Emily Durwood, attended a Long Island barbecue. About 11 p.m., the women and a few friends stopped by Partners, a Sea Cliff bar.

When Smith-Malave and Durwood began to dance together, a bouncer told the group to leave. "It was getting too gay," said civil-rights lawyer Yetta Kurland, who often handles gay-related cases. "Someone said they were offended by two women dancing together."

The friends left through a side door and walked a few feet to the street. A group of about 12 teens, mostly young men, followed them out the front door.

"I've been to protests so I automatically felt there was an aggression. They started to approach us. I didn't know what was going on," Smith-Malave said. "They kept screaming and they kept screaming. The next thing you know, they were throwing things at us. The next thing they were spitting on us. On my sister and she's not a lesbian. The next thing we know, we were getting beaten up by 12 different people."

Smith-Malave described her injuries: "Besides a kick to the head, behind my left ear someone was able to land a good one. I had a lump behind my ear. The swelling is just starting to go down," she said. "The punches to my body. I feel like I was run over by a truck."

One teen slammed Durwood's head on the curb. Another grabbed Smith-Malave's video camera when she began recording the attack. No one came to their rescue, but someone called police.

By the time they arrived, the teens had all disappeared.

"I explained to them we were jumped and it was a group of 12 or more. Only three women and the rest were men. We were being punched and kicked," Smith-Malave said. "The cops didn't understand it. I had to ask them to be concerned with the hate behind the words."

The next day, someone brought Smith-Malave's video camera back to Partners. The bar manager called police and gave them the camera. No recording was inside.

"This was a straight bar," Kurland said. "The expectation we all have in this day and age is that gay people can go into a straight bar and straight people can go into a gay bar and we can all co-exist."

There have been no arrests. Nassau County detectives declined to discuss the case.

"That's an active investigation," said police spokesman Officer Michael Aronsen. "They're investigating a robbery and a possible assault and a bias incident."

Smith-Malave, 32, who graduated Hialeah-Miami Lakes High School and attended Miami Dade College, moved to New York more than a decade ago. She graduated culinary school and fast became a well-known Brooklyn chef. Last year, she was a Top Chef contestant.

"It absolutely pained us to hear that one of our own, Top Chef Season Two's Josie Smith-Malave, was the victim of a gay bashing on Long Island on Labor Day," read a statement on Bravo's website. "We honestly don't know what to say, but our best wishes are with Josie and her loved ones."

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I have something to add to this story. I've been to that Sea Cliff bar, Partners, and it has a nice juke box. But, when the discussion of "which tunes are dance tunes", came up, the bar owner spoke up and said "No dancing is allowed in Partners."
I asked why and she said it was because the bar does not have a Cabaret Liscence. In New York, a bar or nightclub must have a Cabaret Liscence , or else no dancing is allowed.
So the truth be told, nobody is allowed to dance in the bar, gay or straight.
I wasn't there when this incident happened, but the bar does not serve anyone under the age of twenty three, and most of the patrons are over fifty. I don't know who the teenagers are, but I would guess they came out of the pizza restaurant across the street.

response to Moonshade...

you're right...you weren't there so perhaps you shouldn't make comments of where you think the teens came from when it was clearly stated they came FROM THE CLUB.

the fact that any dancing, for anyone, is not allowed in the club is irrelevant....the consensus of the situation was that women, lesbian and non-lesbian, were attacked outside the club when they left and that's what the focus of the article was...no one cares what the rules of the club are

got it?

America is going backwards.. it used to be freedom in America's air years ago.. i don't blame it on the youngsters, but the adults behind the brain washing of these teenagers's thought process.. what am I saying ? what thought process? there is none. It's all done for them and it's sad. It will take another youth's rebellion like the 60's to get a generation to think or their own again.

Moonshade, let me get this right: you are trying to justify the beating because dancing was not allowed in the club? and let's totally clean house by dumping the savages to the pizza joint next door? You're full of it too.

Josie lived on Miami Beach many years ago and she was a real friend to me. She was a real friend to everyone. I am so tired of people out to hurt for differences. Even though Josie and I are very different she never judged me. I hope you are OK now Josie and please continue the fight for everyone!

hello- violence of this kind isn't related to who went where for what and how - it is violence and hatred - unnacceptable violence and hatred.
Period.
I straight people were beaten at a gay bar, if blacks were beaten at a racist white bar... who doesn't still get this???????

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