“Are you the one who saved those people?”
Terrance Mannery, a little caught off guard, turned his head from the window and looked up at the woman who was asking. “Um … yeah,” he told her, a bit uncertain and a little shy.
It was enough confirmation for Kae Clark, though. She shoved a string with a silver star balloon floating above it into Mannery’s hand and started thanking him. “It’s just really nice to see someone stand up,” she said.
After four days, the attention and appreciation still surprise Mannery. People have stopped him to shake his hand. Some have offered to buy him lunch. Many have come to the Salt Lake City dessert shop where he works just to meet him and show their support.
They’re calling him a hero.
“I’m kind of used to being a background character,” Mannery said with a laugh. “I’m not used to being in the spotlight of attention.”
On Saturday night, the 21-year-old was working behind the counter at Doki Doki dessert shop during a quiet shift. Just before closing, about 10:30 p.m., four frightened men who had just left the Utah Pride Festival burst through the door. The group of guys that had chased them in was gathering outside, making taunting gestures and yelling homophobic slurs.
Mannery ran to the entrance to block the mob from coming into the cafe.
One attacker shoved Mannery into the glass and metal door, breaking its hinge. Some of them started punching. It was dark and Mannery couldn’t see how many there were. He felt at least seven hits; one left a dark red scratch on his cheek. Witnesses have said he was trying to fend off some 15 to 20 muscular men.
The group, described by one bystander as some “wholesome Utah boys,” dispersed when a security guard approached. Mannery went back inside Doki Doki. Not knowing what else to do, he went back to taking orders. The four victims who ran in left in a Lyft. It was over in minutes.
“I’m just glad they were able to get away and be safe,” Mannery said Wednesday, reflecting on the episode.
Clark, who is bisexual and marched in Sunday’s Pride Parade, heard about the attack on Facebook and wanted to personally thank Mannery for putting himself in front of the mob and protecting those inside.
“Yeah, my boyfriend was working in the back,” he said, pointing to the kitchen where Richard was scooping ice cream.
“Wow,” she said. “So you’ve probably faced this kind of hate before.”
Clark’s friend Atlas Morgan stood nearby and added: “In a state like Utah, we have huge communities of gay people and anti-gay people.”
“And a lot of negative things happen to the LGBT community,” said Mason Smith.
The three friends also brought Mannery a card. The front said “You happy up the world.” As they talked, blenders sounded in the background. A few folks walked in, chatting about how they wanted to try this place after hearing about what Mannery did. “I’ve never been here before,” one woman noted.
The shop, on 400 South near 300 East, serves smoothies and teas and desserts. The name Doki Doki is a Japanese term for the sound a beating heart makes. When Mannery started talking about Saturday night, he thumped his hand to his chest. His own heart raced during the attack. Today, it’s much calmer, and he’s more assured.
“Even in hindsight, I would have still gone out,” said Mannery, who came to Utah from Wisconsin three years ago for school. During his first summer here, he went to the 2016 Pride Parade. There were a few protesters but nothing like what he saw Saturday.
“I hope this inspires more people to stand up, but hopefully they do it in a safer way. I don’t want people to try to take on entire groups by themselves, but if you hear your friends making jokes, definitely say something.”
As he started his afternoon shift Wednesday at the dessert shop, Mannery zipped the star balloon into his jacket pocket and carried it around as he helped customers.