Pro-footballer suspended over heinous homophobic attack that left a gay man close to death

Ottawa Redblacks

The Ottawa Redblacks have suspended their defensive lineman Chris Larsen over an alleged homophobic attack that left a gay man near death.

The victim, 24-year-old David Gomez, said he was “nearly beat to death” by a group of five people who hurled homophobic slurs as he walked home through Hanlan Point, Toronto on 5 June.

A woman allegedly grabbed and held Gomez while two men punched and kicked him in the face until he fell unconscious. He awoke with a broken nose, fractured hip, a shattered cheekbone and orbital bone, multiple lacerations, a chipped tooth and a concussion, according to a GoFundMe page.

“There were apparently bystanders, INCLUDING the police (a minute or so before the conflict took place), who made a shallow attempt at calming tempers,” the fundraiser claims.

“It’s maddening to think that during Pride Month, we still have to watch our backs in areas like Hanlan’s that have served as an enclave and safe haven for the queer community for as long as some of us can remember.”

Toronto Police are investigating the attack as a hate crime and are collecting testimonies from those at the scene. Following tips from social media, police focused on Chris Larsen, a player for the Ottawa Redblacks, an American team in the Canadian Football League.

When police officially identified Larsen as one of their suspects the Redblacks moved to suspend him.

“Late last night, we were made aware of social media allegations of an assault by a group of individuals that included Chris Larsen and immediately commenced an investigation, which is ongoing,” said Mark Goudie, CEO of the Redblacks’ parent company on 9 June.

“Today, we were advised that an investigation by the Toronto Police is underway.”

The statement continues: “Diversity and inclusion are central to our organisational values and we will try our best to use our platform to help make acts of hate and violence, including homophobia, stop.

“We are particularly sorry for the trauma caused to the 2SLGBTQ+ community.”

The CFL has also issued a statement on the matter. “We too take this allegation very seriously and look forward to the outcome,” the league said.

“In the meantime, we want to reaffirm our values: We condemn homophobia, violence and hate. We support inclusivity and diversity.”

Gomez’s friend, Jesse Boland, says he wants to see Chris Larsen removed from the Ottawa Redbacks for good.

“The fact the team has a Pride logo on Instagram and social media pages is absurd and insulting to the community,” he told the Daily Hive.

“David is an absolutely wonderful person,” he added. He’s a fantastic dancer. He’s kind. He’s a Leo and he loves to tell people about that.

“He’s been very humble through all this. He’s just been so grateful when he has every right to be angry.”