Ottawa Redblacks player accused in homophobic attack on Toronto Islands
David Gomez says he was knocked unconscious near the Hanlan's Point ferry docks last Saturday
The Ottawa Redblacks are investigating allegations that one of the CFL team’s players was involved in a violent homophobic hate crime on the Toronto Islands last weekend.
Users on social media said the player was one of the men who allegedly attacked David Gomez, a 24-year-old gay man, around 11:30 pm on June 5 near the Hanlan’s Point ferry docks.
“We are aware of the allegations and are taking this matter seriously,” Chris Hofley, spokesperson for Redblack parent company Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, wrote in an email to questions from NOW. He adds that they cannot provide further comment as the matter is being investigated by Toronto Police.
Gomez posted on Facebook on Sunday that a group of men followed him around, directing homophobic slurs at him, before he was “knocked unconscious and beat nearly to death.” Gomez wrote that he has a broken nose, shattered face, multiple lacerations across his body, a broken tooth and a slight fracture on his right hip.
A GoFundMe page created by Cianan Liburd for his recovery adds that Gomez was with a friend on his way home from Hanlan’s Point beach, the clothing optional beach that’s commonly been a safe space for the LGBTQ2SIA community.
Gomez’s GoFundMe page says there were approximately five or more people among the group of attackers. The page also says bystanders and police were nearby, the latter making a shallow attempt at “calming tempers.”
Police did not respond to NOW’s request for comment.
In a press release on June 9, police said a 24-year-old man and 27-year-old woman were walking to the ferry docks when they became involved in a disagreement with a group of people. A man from the latter group made homophobic comments and two men from the group punched and kicked the 24-year-old, police said.
Police are looking for three suspects. The Hate Crime Unit has been notified and is working with officers from 52 division on the investigation.
Gomez has received an outpouring of support from the queer community. As of this writing, the GoFundMe page has raised more than $27,000.
“It is heartbreaking to hear this happened during Pride Month,” wrote Pride Toronto in a statement on social media. “An attack one one is an attack on all.”
“This is a poignant reminder of why Pride is political,” wrote city councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam.
Canada’s Drag Race winner Priyanka called out the CFL’s Twitter profile picture, which is stylized with a Pride flag. The CFL has not yet made a statement regarding the allegations.
“My heart breaks,” Priyanka wrote. “The hate never ends.”