When gay friends are partying together, what’s their responsibility to each other? How much care do we need to take to avoid getting bashed, mugged, robbed, assaulted – or even killed?
Just a few years ago my Toronto ex brought his James Dean look-a-like fuck buddy back to his downtown Montreal hotel room after a night out on the town. In the hotel room, the Dean look-a-like let in a couple of his friends who then pistol-whipped my ex, tied him to a chair and stole all he had, including his gold Rolex.
Then there’s Canadian serial killer Michael Wayne McGray. On an Easter weekend pass while serving time at a minimum security penitentiary in the Laurentians back in 1991, McGray murdered 59-year-old Robert Assaly and 45-year-old Gaetan Ethier, after picking up both men on different nights in Montreal’s gay village.
The McGray killings changed attitudes toward personal security in Montreal’s gay community. Though the theory was later dispelled, activists believed a serial killer was stalking gay men in the city and took action.
So, when it came to Andrew Cunanan – who killed Gianni Versace in South Beach in 1999 – and authorities speculated Cunanan might be headed to Montreal, local gay activists posted “Wanted” posters of Cunanan throughout the village. There was a growing sense that we must take care of ourselves and our friends and look out for one another when we go out for a night on the town. Because it’s not just the McGrays of the world we need to worry about, it’s the James Dean look-a-likes who – pardon the pun – want to fuck us over.
Now this isn’t something gay guys like to talk about. After all, gay life isn’t some dreadful scene from that awful movie Cruising. But there are plenty of villains out there.
I mean, how many friends do you know who’ve discovered something stolen, or their wallet emptied, after spending a night with some guy they’ll never see again?
“If you pick up a guy you’ve never met before in a bar, avoid going back to your place,” says André Proulx, a gay Montreal cop. Proulx also works with Dire Enfin La Violence, Montreal’s anti-gaybashing support group that expanded its mission a few years ago when it began getting reports of domestic abuse, assault and theft within the gay community.
And going to a lonely wooded area is no treat, either.
“Unless you’ve met the person several times, bring him to a hotel or bathhouse,” Proulx says. “There someone will see the person you’re with. Showing [a trick] where you live may trigger envy and trouble. So bringing somebody home is the last thing you should do unless you really know the person.”
My friends and I like to party when we go out to clubs. So we make a point of looking out for one another if one of us gets loaded. And if someone’s had too much to drink, we put them in a cab.
Proulx says even this can be dangerous. “Dropping your friend in a cab introduces a third party,” Proulx says. “You’re leaving him with a total stranger and while, yes, that may not be a problem three quarters of the time, trouble happens. I’ve seen it happen.”
Proulx isn’t kidding. On Jun 2, for instance, 30-year-old Shawn Roy was last seen alive leaving Montreal’s Club Unity shortly before 3am. Roy was in Montreal with two Ottawa friends for a weekend getaway. But the two friends left Roy drunk and alone in the bar around 2:30am. A Club Unity bouncer had to escort Roy out of the bar at closing time.
“The doorman told police Mr Roy fell to the sidewalk once outside,” the Ottawa Citizen reported last month. “The doorman said he watched as two men lifted Mr Roy to his feet and helped him across the street. The doorman told police Mr Roy seemed to know the two men. It was the last time he was seen alive.”
Roy’s body was later found 30 km, west of the Jacques-Cartier Bridge. His two friends, meanwhile, returned to Ottawa with his luggage and waited several days before calling police to report him missing. Police are still investigating.
Now, I never allow myself get into nasty situations. But if for some reason I couldn’t take care of myself, I’d be mighty pissed if my friends abandoned me. Says Proulx: “Someone should be designated to remain sober and guide the group. That’s the ideal situation. Each person should be responsible for themselves, of course, but we also have a responsibility to our friends around us.”
So much better to trade stories over brunch the next afternoon than pay a visit to the morgue.