Aloe Vera, a Philadelphia-based drag performer, was attacked in the city’s south section last week. Vera was reportedly punched in the face repeatedly at knife point, causing the 26-year-old queen to sustain a broken jaw. Vera’s jaw is now wired shut, and will stay that way for a month during his recovery.
The Philadelphia Police report that officers responded to the 2000 block of Tasker Street in South Philadelphia around 10:30 p.m. on April 29, where Vera said a man punched him repeatedly in the face and threatened him with a knife.
Aloe Vera, whose legal name is Anthony Veltre, underwent reparative jaw surgery at the Jefferson University Hospital on May 1. The day before, police arrested Carmelo Villanueva, the boyfriend of Vera’s roommate who has lived with him for the past three years. Villanueva was charged with aggravated assault and lesser offenses in connection with the incident. After posting bail, Villanueva was released from custody later that day.
“Obviously this is a serious crime, and we’re going to pursue justice in this case as aggressively as possible,” Ben Waxman, a spokesperson for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, told Philadelphia Gay News.
Due to the injuries he sustained, Aloe Vera will be out of work for a few weeks, recovering. Because of this strain on his financial resources, the city’s LGBTQ community has banded together to raise money for him.
“Aloe has been at home recovering from surgery taking it easy,” Vera’s drag mother Fanci Dismount-Stratton tells Hornet. “He is still dealing with some pain from having his jaw wired shut and adjusting to an all liquid diet. This has been a very emotional experience on many different levels. Dealing with the emotional trauma of being attacked completely unprovoked by a person he has known for several years has been tough enough coupled with the reality of surgery and a month of having his jaw wired shut.”
Dismount-Stratton continues, “Through all the emotion and frustration, Aloe has had an amazing amount of support from his friends and family especially his boyfriend Brett, his sister Geisha and his biological family. He is a fighter and with all of the love and support he is getting from the community as a whole he well be just fine and is eager to get back to the stage.”
A fundraiser for Aloe Vera had been scheduled for Monday, May 7, at ICandy Nightclub, where he performed regularly. Local queen Bev will host a night of performances by a laundry list of Philly queens, and there will be an auction hosted by Lady Geisha-Stratton. The fundraiser begins at 10 p.m.
If you’re unable to attend but still want to help out, a GoFundMe page has also been created to help raise funds for Aloe Vera.
“I will never understand why such horrible things happen to such wonderful people,” says Rachel Neitzke. “Please send your love and support and extra pennies if possible to Miss Aloe Vera. She is one of the most genuine humans I have ever met and has shown me nothing but love from the day we met.”
As of press time, the GoFundMe has raised $3,242 of its $4,000 goal.