By Shannon Higgins
On Jan. 22 a former Ryerson student named Ryan Lester was enjoying a night out with his brother when he was allegedly assaulted by two men — including Eoin McManus, a Ryerson radio and television arts student.
Allegedly, Lester was kicked in the face and berated with homophobic slurs.
Pretty shocking, right?
Despite our close proximity to Toronto’s gay village, Ryerson University has had a long history with LGBT hate crimes.
In 2008, two men shouting homophobic slurs assaulted a student in the alleyway between Eric Palin Hall and the architecture building.
On Oct. 18, 2009, Ryerson alumnus Christopher Skinner (an openly gay man) was beaten to death on the corner of Victoria and Adelaide Streets.
On Mar. 9, 2010, at last year’s Queer Positive Pub Night, “burning gays” and other homophobic graffiti was discovered on the wall behind a urinal at the Ram in the Rye.
And this is just what has been reported.
My little sister is a gay Ryerson student. (Full disclosure: she’s also the Eyeopener’s circulation manager.)
Last semester she was working on an in-class assignment when the classmate sitting beside her started talking about how, “dykes enjoy being called dykes because if they didn’t they wouldn’t dress like men.”
And just the other day I was taking the escalator up from Dundas Station and I couldn’t help but hear the women in front of me casually toss around “that’s so gay” and “he’s such a fag.”
And — even though I pride myself on being a staunch LGBT ally — I said nothing.
Gay youth come to Toronto hoping to find an accepting community that understands gay people are people too. But that’s not true — just ask Ryan Lester about his black eye.
Lester’s bruises should remind us that we can’t afford to be complacent about ignorance and hate around the LGBT community.
Yes, it gets better, but it will take a hell of a lot of work before everyone can walk outside feeling safe.
The next time I hear someone utter a homophobic slur on the escalator, I’m going to do the right thing and speak up.