UPDATE OCT 8 5:12 pm –
About 300 residents of London, Ont turned out for a “peace rally” in that city’s Victoria Park on Oct 7. They were rallying after two separate high profile assaults against gay men in London in September.
Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco-Best says she is truly upset by the violence.
“It is really appalling to see some of the things that have been happening… and I don’t like it,” she told Xtra before taking the podium to address the crowd.
“We don’t condone violence of any kind and we are especially concerned when people are targeted simply because of who they are,” deputy chief of police Brad Duncan told Xtra before the rally began. “You should feel free to walk the streets under any circumstances and we want to ensure that people are safe in their own communities.”
Duncan adds that he understands that gay and lesbian people are sometimes reluctant to report homophobic violence for fear of further stigmatization and maybe even fear of the police themselves. He says he wants to see that change.
“We want people to be comfortable and to know that they’ll be protected and the people responsible will be prosecuted,” he says.
DeCicco-Best has faced criticism for her notable absences from previous gay events.
“A lot of bridges have been built over the years and whether I’m at a particular event or not we can always find ways to come together,” says DeCicco-Best. “We’ve come a long way and we’re going to continue to build those bridges.”
And London Police have a history of poor relations with London’s gay communities.
Duncan says there has been a lack of understanding between gay people and the police and that we need “to look at how we can come together” in the future.
Erik Rozensky, who was attacked with his boyfriend in London on Sep 27, says the rally was important because the city is “going to finally stand up and show that this will not be tolerated.”
Brandon Wright, who on Sep 8 leaped bleeding from a moving truck to escape a man who wanted to punish him for being gay, says an attack on one of us is “an attack on the community and we should stand together.”
Wright added that he hoped the rally would cause people to “open their eyes and open their hearts.”
“As with every minority out there, there is just so much bigotry in the community…just too damn much of it,” says Rorry Morris, a heterosexual man who came out to show his support. “I believe in the limitless potential of the human race but we hold ourselves back with these petty squabbles, we should just let it go.”
8 OCT 10 am – More than 200 people gathered in Victoria Park in London, Ont on Oct 7 to rally against a string of high profile homophobic attacks in that city of the last little while.
On Sep 8 a bleeding Brandon Wright leapt from a moving truck to escape a man who said he wanted punish him for being gay. On Sep 27 Erik Roanski and his boyfriend were attacked by two men who uttered homophobic slurs.
Xtra was there and will report on this soon.