A Calgary man says he was repeatedly called a faggot and other homophobic slurs, physically assaulted and shown a knife on a city bus Oct 31.
Keith Guidi says at least 10 men between the ages of approximately 20 and 30 began taunting him about his sexuality as soon as he boarded the 41 bus to Joyce St station.
“I get on the back of the bus and there was a guy that was in a half-mask as a vampire with fangs — it was Halloween night — [and] the first thing that comes out of his mouth so the whole bus could hear was, ‘Hey look, there’s a fag going to Davie St,’” says Guidi.
In fact, Guidi was heading to Numbers in the gay village that night. He says he confronted the man and the situation escalated.
“I turned to him and said, ‘Look buddy, I don’t know what you’re all about, I’m here just to get on the bus and go to the train station. I deserve some respect, leave me alone.’
“It got worse and worse,” Guidi says.
The man in the vampire mask replied, “‘Buddies, hold on to your dicks, this guy’s gonna suck you off,’ and then he kept saying, ‘Quit touching my friend’s dick, quit touching my friend’s dick,’” Guidi alleges.
Guidi says he called out to the bus driver for assistance.
“I shouted to the front, I said, ‘Bus driver, could you please call dispatch or police, I’m being verbally assaulted right now. I don’t need this, I’m not from here.’”
Guidi says the bus driver didn’t respond.
It was at that point that one of the other men in the group showed him a “pointy and narrow” knife, Guidi alleges. “That’s when I really got upset,” he says.
He again tried to get the driver’s attention, to no avail.
What was shocking, says Guidi, was the bus was packed but no one came to his assistance.
Finally he went to the front of the bus to speak to the driver. He says the driver told him he hadn’t heard his calls for help.
Guidi says he continued asking the bus driver to call the police but to no avail.
“He refused to do [that],” Guidi maintains. “He said the best thing for me to do was to stand at the front until he got to the station, so he kept driving.”
Guidi says the anti-gay taunts continued as he stood at the front. “They started making rude comments to me [like] ‘Fuck off, faggot. Go home where you come from.’”
When the bus eventually pulled into the Joyce St station bus loop, Guidi says the bus driver told him to remain on the bus until the men got off, after which he would take him around the corner to catch another bus.
But Guidi says the driver left him on the bus with the door open. He says he asked the driver for his badge number but the driver refused to provide it. He didn’t see the bus driver again.
Not long after, three of the original 10 men got back on the bus and began laughing at him and throwing punches, Guidi says.
“I had to block punches. I wasn’t showing any fear or anything. I thought, ‘Why should I be a victim to these idiots?’”
Guidi says he eventually ran for the station stairs and called the helpline after the men headed for a nearby pizza place.
At that point both transit and Vancouver police responded to his call and detained the three men, he says.
Transit authority spokesperson Sgt Tom Seaman confirms that two transit officers spoke to Guidi at the station and detained three men. One of them, a 19-year-old, was arrested and taken to jail because of an outstanding warrant for breach of parole, Seaman says.
The others were released. Seaman says they did nothing criminal that would warrant charges.
The attending officers did note that derogatory remarks were made to Guidi but their report does not specify if they were homophobic, Seaman adds.
“Our members didn’t write it up that way anyway. They wrote it that they made derogatory comments to him,” he says.
Asked if the officers asked Guidi to specify the nature of the remarks, Seaman says “they may have, but they haven’t indicated that in their report.”
Guidi says the transit police only interviewed him for a very short time and never asked about the nature of the comments.
Asked if the bus driver was interviewed about the incident, Seaman says he would have submitted an incident report that would be forwarded to the transit police, but so far he hadn’t seen one.
“Our police officers go through the same training as Vancouver police; they’re all graduates from the Justice Institute,” says Seaman when asked if transit police receive any gay sensitivity training.
Det Cheryl Leggett of the Vancouver Police Department’s Hate Crime Unit has read the transit police report on the incident. “The report I read indicated that [the transit police] were responsible for the call,” she says. “As far as I read, [the case] was closed that night.”