A gay student in Canada who was assaulted and mugged by homophobes has vowed not to let the attack push him back into the closet.
University of Alberta student Chevi Rabbit was attacked by a group of three men walking near his campus in Whyte Avenue on Thursday (19 July) at 9pm.
After hurling homophobic abuse, the 26-year-old claimed one of the trio attacked him, holding him in a headlock, throwing him to the ground and stealing his iPhone.
Rabbit told radio station CBC News that the assault ‘caught me off guard’ because it happened so openly.
‘It's a really good neighbourhood for the most part,’ he explained.
‘There were people playing volleyball, people walking around — a mother jogging. It was embarrassing…they're calling me a faggot in front of everybody.’
He says he no longer feels safe in the area and has moved back in with his parents.
However, despite admitting he now carries pepper spray for protection, Rabbit hopes his story will bring more attention to LGBT hate crime.
‘Being discriminated is unacceptable regardless of race, sexuality and beliefs,’ he posted on his Facebook page.
The make-up artist added: ‘It's unfortunate this gay hate crime happened but I am going to continue living the way I have always lived, openly gay and wearing fabulous make-up.
‘No-one should hide who they are. Life is too short to live in fear, so choose to make it a fabulous one [sic].’
His story has sparked an outpouring of support, with people expressing their sympathy for the student on his Facebook page.
‘I feel for you and I know other people’s ignorance can be hurtful. But remain true. Let that beautifulness shine through babe. I support you even though we don't know each other,’ posted one user who calls herself Jannel Ladyjkeepsitreal Barksdale.
While Katherine Anne commented: ‘Someone else might have been scared, might have hid from the public and who they truly are, but you stood up and made a difference, instead you made it public and inspired so many others to want to stand up.
‘They didn't hurt the gay community, they pushed you to make a stand for the gay community.’
Edmonton Police are investigating the attack and are looking for a silver 2000 Acura 3.2TL car with a spoiler that fled the scene.