EDMONTON, Alberta — Chevi Rabbit, an openly gay 26-year-old Canadian university student, led a no-hate march and rally in Edmonton on Thursday — nearly a month after he was allegedly attacked because of his sexual orientation.
Rabbit was walking to the market on July 19 when three men in a vehicle approached him. The men allegedly hurled homophobic slurs at Rabbit and exited the car to chase him.
One of the men reportedly put Rabbit in a headlock and threw him to the ground, leaving him with scratches and scrapes from the attack. Witnesses came to Rabbit’s aid, causing the attackers to flee with Rabbit’s phone. The attacks came as a surprise to Rabbit, who described the neighborhood as a nice place to live. He said he was so embarrassed by the homophobic slurs that he could only respond by saying, “thank you.”
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Area resident Matt Peyneburg, who witnessed the attack, told CBC News that “there were other guys in the car — it could have been four guys on one person. He could have been seriously injured there.”
Rabbit, a professional make-up artist who typically often wears make-up himself, said he “believes 100 percent” his attack was a result of his sexual orientation. After the incident, he thought about being less visibly gay, but instead; he used the incident to help bring awareness to LGBT hate crimes.
“I am very comfortable being who I am,” he said. “I’m not going to change who I am.”
On Thursday, he began bringing awareness to the cause by organizing a march and rally from where he was attacked to the Edmonton legislature. About 300 people attended the rally and Rabbit urged supporters to wear purple — the anti-bullying color.
The Deputy Premier of Alberta, Thomas Lukaszuk, showed his support by speaking at the rally.
“I want to thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedules to show how this city and how this province will not accept violence,” he said. “We will not accept intolerance.”
Rabbit is still worried about being attacked again, but he says that will not stop him from telling his story and the stories of others who have been attacked because of their sexual orientation.
Edmonton Police were unavailable to comment on the case, however they are investigating the incident as a hate crime.