A young musician is urging the GLBT community to stay safe at night following an allegedly homophobic attack that has left him with a suspected broken nose.
Zakk d’Larté, an electronic pop artist who appeared earlier this year at Wellington’s Out in the Square, was attacked by a group of men last night in downtown Auckland.
“I was dropping my friends off at a party down at the Viaduct at 7pm and as I was walking back home, these three guys approached me and I think they must’ve thought I was a female because they were flirting with me,” d’Larté says. “But they quickly realised that I was a guy and got so aggressive and were punching and kicking me and shouting disgusting homophobic comments.”
A photo of his cut and bruised face that he uploaded to his Facebook fan page has 66 shares and nearly 200 comments just six hours later.
He hopes that as many people as possible see the photo and says the reason he uploaded it is “to spread awareness and warn the GLBT community.
“I just hope that this can be a wake-up call to the gay community that homophobia still has such a strong presence. When in town at night, always stay as a group because homophobia is still around and there are people out there that want to hurt you.”
UPDATE: Two friends of d’Larte’s who saw him both before the attack and later that night have contacted express with doubts as to whether the attack was motivated by homophobia.
Marina Rodrigues and Anton Griffiths parted ways with d’Larté around 7 pm on Saturday after he was asked to leave a 21st birthday party that the trio were attending.
“We were at a party on a boat and Zakk got kicked off because he was absolutely intoxicated,” Rodrigues says.
The incident happened soon after.
Griffiths says the pair saw d’Larté again around 1 am at Family Bar. At that time, his face was visibly cut and scratched but Griffiths says d’Larté remembered nothing of the attack.
“I did consult Zakk shortly after he left [the earlier party] and he didn’t even remember talking to me.”
Rodrigues says media portrayal of the incident as homophobic is false and will lead to negative perceptions of the GLBT community.
“We don’t know what Zakk said to the guys or whether he knew them. It’s all been blown way out of proportion. It’s really hard to be bisexual in our community anyway but when a lot of hate is being directed towards the straight community, it makes it even harder.”
However, d’Larté denies this version of events, saying that while he had “had too many” drinks, he remembers all the details of the attack.
“At first [my attackers] thought I was a female and they were saying things like, ‘Hey baby, come back with us’, but they soon realised that I was a homosexual and it was like a switch flipped… they were yelling things like ‘faggot’ and ‘you’re a burden on society’. I’ve got full memory of everything and I definitely think it was homophobic.”
d’Larté spent part of today in hospital and has bruising around his spine and ribs.
He is currently considering whether or not to report the incident to the police.