Gay man beaten in St-Tite in apparent homophobic attack
21-year-old believes he was target of gay bashing at St-Tite country festival
A 21-year-old gay man from Trois-Rivières believes he was the target of a homophobic attack at the Festival Western de St-Tite in Quebec's Mauricie region.
Mathieu Grégoire had to be treated in hospital after the Friday attack.
He said he was walking with his sister at the annual country festival when someone whistled at his sister and made unflattering remarks.
To defuse the situation, Grégoire said he wanted to tell the man he was good looking.
"I looked at him and said 'you're super hot', said Grégoire. "The guy thought I was saying he was drunk, and that I was insulting him."
Grégoire used the French word "chaud" which means "hot", but could also be taken to mean "drunk".
He said his sister tried to calm the situation by telling the man that Grégoire was giving him a compliment.
Grégoire said that's when he was hit in the face six times with an empty beer bottle. The last thing he remembered was hearing the man utter a homophobic slur.
Motivated by homophobia, victim says
He's convinced that the assault happened because he's gay.
"If the guy had called me an idiot, I would not have turned to confront him. My sister would have taken me by the hand and led me away," said Grégoire.
Grégoire says he remembers waking up minutes after the assault and seeing flashes of red and blue. He said he was crying and didn't understand what was happening.
"I kept asking my stepfather to change me, to become heterosexual," said Grégoire. "He had tears in his eyes as told me that the next morning in the hospital."
Grégoire said he's still shaken by the event, and has received a lot of messages of support on his Facebook page.
He said he plans to file a complaint with provincial police. The Sûreté du Québec would not confirm whether it is investigating the attack.
This was not the first violent incident to happen at this year's edition of the festival.
On Thursday night, a man ended up in a coma after being kicked in the head. He has since regained consciousness.
Organizers of the festival say they're worried by what happened.
"There's no room for this type of behaviour," festival director Pascal Lafrenière said in a written statement.
"Historically, there haven't been problems with the festival, given it receives more than 600,000 people each year."
Lafrenière says he considers the incidents to be isolated, and says the festival will collaborate with police.