hanlans point attack

Over $40K raised for victim of homophobic attack at Hanlan's Point in Toronto

The disturbing assault of a 24-year-old man at Hanlan's Point — a historically queer space on the Toronto Islands — has touched a nerve in Canada's largest city, prompting thousands to speak out against anti-gay hate and open their wallets in turn.

David Gomez was on his way home from Hanlan's around 11:30 p.m. on Saturday night when he was attacked by what has been described as "a group of homophobic individuals."

Friends say the 24-year-old, who shared his painful story on Instagram earlier this week, was left unconscious "for some time" and that he awoke concussed with a broken nose, broken cheekbone, shattered orbital bone and a fractured hip bone.

"In short, David and a friend found themselves in danger when they were outnumbered by a group of folks shouting and hurling homophobic slurs at them until things reached a boiling point," reads a GoFundMe page set up to help Gomez heal from the violent attack.

"David is recovering, still in shock from the incident and requires additional surgeries to mend the broken bones in his face and hip. The attack also left him with quite a bit of trauma, so we're asking for you to contribute to this GoFundMe to raise funds for therapy, legal fees, school fees, and any additional medical bills throughout his journey through healing and restitution."

Created on Wednesday, the campaign had already raised about $42,000 as of 8:30 a.m. on Thursday morning — more than 12 times its original goal of $3,000.

More than 1,000 individuals have donated to the GoFundMe campaign, many of them leaving comments of support for Gomez and the entire queer community.

"I’m so sad thinking another hate crime in this day and age. You deserve to be treated equal. These bullies are not going to change the person you are," wrote one donor on the page. "You are going to get through this. You are brave and strong. I have faith that this will make you stronger."

"Every queer person deserves to be protected. Especially during pride month. I hope this money can help on your journey to recovery, whether that be medical bills, food bills, therapy bills," wrote another. "We hear you and we see you all across Canada. Sending you all my love."

Toronto Police are currently investigating the incident, which they say took place on the ferry docks near Hanlan's Point beach, as an aggravated assault.

The service's dedicated Hate Crime Unit is supporting the investigation and descriptions for three suspects have been released.

While police have yet to name anyone, social media posts have linked the crime back to a CFL player named Chris Larsen. The Ottawa Redblacks, who drafted Larsen in 2019, announced late Wednesday night that he had been suspended.

According to police, one male suspect "made homophobic comments" toward Gomez and his 27-year-old companion before another member of the suspect group, a woman, grabbed one of the victims. 

Two men from the group then assaulted Gomez by "punching and kicking him, leaving him with significant injuries."

"This remains an active investigation and extensive inquiries are being carried out including scouring for video, recovering evidence and speaking to witnesses to establish the motive," say Toronto police of the case.

"The Toronto Police Service understands that incidents of this nature cause concern in LGBTQ2S+ communities. We want to assure everyone that our investigators are working hard to determine if this was a hate crime and identify the suspects involved. Any type of hate crime will not be tolerated."

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