LOS ANGELES -- A Southern California man and Air Force veteran says his neighbors have targeted him with vandalism, battery and even a smear campaign because of his sexuality.
Ryan Gierach, who is gay, says his neighbors immediately began using slurs against him when he moved in two years ago.
"When I came here my neighbors directly across from me began calling me names — all of them revolving around gay epithets," he told KTLA.
Then, things escalated when he began hanging rainbow flags in honor of LGBT pride month, which is celebrated each June, Gierach said. He alleges that the neighbors in question began shouting homophobic comments, throwing garbage at him, calling him names and even physically assaulted him.
Gierach has captured video of three women jeering at him, and one of them spitting at him. Police have seen the video, and said it constitutes battery.
The attacks grew more personal when, a few months ago, someone posted flyers around the neighborhood accusing Gierach of being a pedophile. The notices stated he was "a child molesting sex offender," followed by a slur, and included his home address.
Shedrick Davis, a lawyer with LGBT advocacy organization Lambda Legal, said similar unfounded allegations have been used against gay people for decades.
"This is relying on an old gay stereotype that gays are pedophiles, long disproven by all science," he said. "This counts as slander."
Gierach said he's no stranger to discrimination. In 1979, he was discharged from the Air Force for being gay. Some time after that, he worked as a journalist, running the now-defunct blog WeHo News that sought to highlight instances of injustice in the queer community.
"For 20 years now I've covered this sort of thing happening to other people," he said. "And it hurt me deeply every time it happened to other people."
Gierach then broke down crying. Nothing could have prepared him for experiencing it first-hand, he said.
But luckily, some of his neighbors have his back.
"It's a sad situation, and we're not going to let it happen, because if you mess with one of us you mess with all of us," neighbor Aiden Garcia-Sheffield said.
Gierach has filed numerous police reports, and the Los Angeles Police Department officials confirmed they are investigating. But when they visited the home of the neighbors involved, they were unable to make contact with anyone, officials said.
But ultimately, Gierach just wants to be treated with respect.
"To be attacked for being a loving person is perverse," he said.AlertMe