Originally Published on CityNews
A Toronto man says he was followed by a group of men who taunted him with homophobic slurs before beating him “nearly to death” on the Toronto Island over the weekend.
In a social media post prefaced with a sarcastic “Happy Pride” David Gomez said he was on his way home from Hanlan’s Point late Saturday night when a group of men starting following him and calling him a “f****t and h**o.”
Gomez says he was then “knocked unconscious and beat nearly to death” while being “dragged around, kicked and punched in the face.”
Gomez says he suffered a broken nose, fractures to his face, a broken tooth and other injuries in the attack.
CityNews spoke with a friend of Gomez’s who says he has since undergone surgery and is currently recovering.
Toronto’s LGBTQ2S+ community and supporters say the alleged homophobic-motivated attack during Pride month is evidence that more work has to be done to stamp out bigotry.
“It’s maddening to think that during Pride month, we still have to watch our backs in areas like Hanlan’s that have served as an enclave and safe haven for the queer community for as long as some of us can remember,” wrote Gomez’s friend Cianan Liburd in a statement.
“These kinds of attacks highlight why it is important that Pride Toronto brings awareness of homophobia, transphobia, biphobia, in our community,” wrote Pride Toronto in an Instagram post. “It is heartbreaking to hear this happened during Pride Month — an attack on one is an attack on all.”
The statement is accompanied by a blurry photo that has been circulating online of the alleged attackers.
My queer friend was beaten unconscious yesterday on his way home from the beach in Toronto. They followed him shouting homophobic slurs and when they caught him they spoke hate with their fists and feet. It shouldn’t be like this. Pride is a protest for a reason. #pride
— Tyler Boyce (@TylerKBoyce) June 8, 2021
Also straight people don’t go to Hanlans Beach. It’s a safe space for our community and if you’re not an ally. You don’t belong there.
— Juice Boxx (@JuiceBoxxQueen) June 8, 2021
Social media users have identified one of the alleged attackers as a CFL player on the Ottawa Redblacks team.
The communication manager for Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, which owns the Ottawa Reblacks, Chris Hofley, confirmed in a statement that the Redblacks are aware of the allegations made on social media involving one of their players and that “the team is currently investigating.”
“There were apparently bystanders, INCLUDING the police, who made a shallow attempt at calming tempers,” wrote Liburd on a GoFundMe page.
According to Toronto Police, they were unable to locate a call for service that matches the description of the incident at Hanlan’s Point. CityNews has since provided more information, but did not hear back in time for publication.