The life of a local man known for his bright sense of humour and bravery in the face of anti-gay violence has concluded tragically.
On Oct 29 Russell Young died from complications due to surgery, three years after a brutal assault that many in the gay community, if not the courts, deemed a hate crime.
The assault, which took place during Pride 2005 in front of the Esso station at the corner of Davie and Burrard, resulted in numerous medical problems for Young. At the time, St. Paul’s hospital staff treated him for a severely split lip, facial swelling, internal bleeding, and a badly fractured lower right leg.
Young always maintained that one of his alleged attackers uttered a homophobic comment before assaulting him.
The case took years to get to trial, in part because of scheduling errors that initially led to the charges against Young’s two alleged attackers being stayed.
Ravinder Toor was finally convicted of assault causing bodily harm in February; he later received three months house arrest and six additional months of probation as punishment.
Co-accused Randeep Cheema was acquitted due to a lack of sufficient evidence.
The Crown could not prove that Toor’s crime was motivated by hate.
Only months after seeing his assailant sentenced, those who were closest to Young gathered at the Coast Plaza Hotel in the West End to share their memories of his life and love. They emphasized the warmth of Young’s personality and his passion for car restoration, and fondly remembered his participation in the bear community.
“He loved to shop,” recalled one of Young’s housemates, Les Clark, thinking affectionately of the many weekends the two explored flea markets together.
Clark told Xtra West that he takes comfort in knowing that Young had made visits to several out-of-town family members recently before he died.
Young leaves behind a large family, his partner, and many close friends in Vancouver and Bellingham.