Lethbridge, Alberta, police are investigating a fight involving a local gay man as possibly hate-related.
Matthew Young, 30, says he was smoking and waiting for friends outside Pulse Nightclub at around 1am on Dec 11. He says a male passerby noticed the rainbow bracelet he was wearing.
Young alleges the man pointed to the bracelet and asked if he was gay. When Young said yes, he says, the man began hitting him.
“After the fighting started, I just kind of blacked out until I got to the hospital,” Young says.
Young remembers defending himself and then arriving at Chinook Regional Hospital in an ambulance. He says his nurse, who attended to both Young and the other man involved in the incident, “told me I beat him up more than he beat me up.
“I don’t recall a whole lot of the actual fight itself, but it was pretty obvious he was just trying to pick a fight with somebody who was different,” Young says.
Lethbridge police have begun investigating the incident but were unavailable for comment. They have released a statement that says, “On Tuesday, Dec 13, 2011 Lethbridge Regional Police became aware of a matter involving allegations of a hate/bias incident that occurred over the weekend and have subsequently initiated an investigation.”
The statement noted that the investigation is ongoing.
Young says police approached him on Dec 14 to ask about the incident. He has since met with a police diversity liaison officer. In an email to Xtra, Young said officers have been “very professional in taking my incident report and advising me of my options if I choose to proceed with laying charges.”
Young says he’s not sure if he wants to press charges. “I just think that potentially this could get drawn out . . . that it might be more damaging than it is doing good . . . it’s something I just want to get over.”
The small Alberta community of about 88,000 has been in the news for homophobic incidents in the past.
Last year, University of Lethbridge student Mark Spracklin found his car defaced with homophobic slurs.
Still, Young is surprised about the incident.“There’s tons of gay people in this city.”
Young has volunteered for gay organizations and maintains a queer dating blog. “I’ve always been out and open in the community . . . I’ve never had a problem before,” he says.
Pulse Nightclub has not responded to requests for comment.