VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A Vancouver man who was attacked and called homophobic slurs in the heart of the city’s gay neighbourhood hopes his experience prompts others to evaluate their actions and encourages members of the LGBTQ+ community to report suspected hate crimes.
Brent Simpson was walking home from the Pumpjack Pub along Davie Street near Bidwell at around 12:30 a.m. Sunday when two men walking in the opposite direction demanded he give them a cigarette.
“It wasn’t that they asked me for a cigarette. They were like ‘Yo man, give me a smoke.’ I said ‘No, I’m okay’ and I continued walking away,” he said, adding the men persisted and swore at him. “I just ignored them and next thing I know he tackled me from behind and threw me to the ground.”
The men kicked him and called him the homophobic slur “f**” before running away in different directions. Simpson’s knee was scraped, his shoulder bruised and he twisted his ankle. He says he reported the incident to police.
While it’s unclear if the men knew Simpson is gay, he says it’s still no excuse for anyone to use derogatory terms.
“There’s no need for this anymore. There’s so much education out there and so much support for people and if you don’t understand the LGBTQ community, then find the information. There’s places in the west-end that you can go to and sit down with somebody,” he said. “This is why the pride parade and pride committee is still so very important. Yes, it’s a fun day, but it’s not just about the floats and half-naked people on the streets. It’s about educating people that aren’t familiar.”
Chris Bolton, with the North Shore Pride Alliance, says he has heard of similar attacks along Davie in the past, but it’s unknown if they are linked or if they were reported.
“With all this negativity for any of the marginal communities in our world, it’s giving license to people who are either uninformed, uneducated or ignorant. Because, I believe, ignorance spawns fear and this is the result of it,” Bolton said, adding people need to report incidents. “Those statements add up and when they have it all mapped out for a certain area then not only will we get more policing, but people will know to be aware of what they’re doing and their surroundings.”
However, he understands there is still reluctance within the Vancouver LGBTQ+ community to report crimes to police.
“That’s an ignorance on the LGBTQ community because the police have done nothing in the last ten years but show support for the LGBTQ community,” he said.
Standing over six feet, Simpson says he’s glad if an attack was going to happen that it was on him and not someone smaller, younger or older.
“I’m thankful it was me and it wasn’t some 19 year old who might have just come out of the closet,” he said. “Hopefully these two guys got their frustration out, they got it out of the system and they’re going to move on and hopefully learn from it and realize that it was a mistake.”