California Parents Targeted in Homophobic Verbal Attack on Amtrak Train

An unidentified man is alleged to have began shouting at the couple and their son, who was also allegedly confronted in the restroom by the same man.

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A California couple was recently targeted in a homophobic verbal attack on an Amtrak train by a man who’s also alleged to have confronted one of their children in the restroom.

Robbie Pierce and his husband, Neal Broverman, documented the harrowing experience in a since-made-viral Twitter thread. In an interview with NBC News, Pierce said the incident began with a man who was sitting across the aisle during their trip from Los Angeles to Oakland. The man began to yell at the family, with Pierce stating the comments were intended toward their six-year-old son. 

“The next thing he said was, ‘Marriage is between a man and a woman. They stole you, and they’re pedophiles,’” Pierce said. The man is also alleged to have referred to them as “pedophiles,” with Pierce pointing out that such rhetoric can be traced back to “right-wing media” and similarly aligned facets of American politics. This point was echoed and expanded upon in the responses to the couple’s viral Twitter thread, including from writer Katherine Cross.

Eventually, Amtrak employees got involved, with the train’s conductor demanding the attacker exit the train. At this point, the man reportedly refused to leave, although he was later escorted off the train by the Santa Clara Sheriff’s Office. The parents were later informed by their son about the man having allegedly confronted him in the train’s restroom prior to the verbal attack.

Complex has reached out to a regional Amtrak rep, as well as to the Santa Clara Sheriff’s Office, for additional comment. This story may be updated. A comment from an Amtrak rep included in Friday’s NBC report saw the transportation company condemning the incident as a “reprehensible act of hate.” An investigation is underway.

Below, see Pierce’s Twitter thread about the attack, originally shared on Wednesday:

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