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'Mr. Gay Belgium' Says He was the Victim of Hate Crime Attack

by Kilian Melloy
Tuesday Feb 13, 2018

The 18-year-old winner of the Mr. Gay Belgium 2017 title was the victim of a late-night homophobic assault, according to Dutch language publication Zizo online.

Jaimie Deblieck says he was walking home alone along a street in his hometown of Roesalre, a Belgian city in West Flanders, at about 3 a.m. on Feb. 10, when someone allegedly struck him from behind, shoving him to the ground and stomping on him while shouting that Deblieck was a "fucking homo."

The young man managed to escape the attacker and headed to a hospital, where he took a photo and posted a message on Facebook.

"To attack me from behind and stomp on me is one thing," Deblieck wrote. "Calling me a 'fucking homo,' you're the one who's going to hurt for that. I'm not leaving it there, you coward."

Deblieck had received threatening messages prior to the attack, the head of the Mr. Gay Belgium organization, Bram Bierkens, told the media.

Deblieck was not seriously injured in the attack. He filed a report with the police, but more importantly, he told his story to the public.

"A lot of people in our country have had to deal with being assaulted on account of their sexuality," the teen wrote. "That's why I chose to speak out by way of the media. This kind of thing needs to be reported."

This year's candidates for Mr. Gay Belgium took to social media as well, in a unified response that took the visual motif of a raised hand with the word STOP written across the palm as a theme. The 12 finalists also all wore T-shirts promoting Mr. Gay Belgium.

"Stop gay bashing!" the PSA reads. "We stand by Jaimie."

Deblieck expressed his gratitude for the many messages of support he received from members of the public, and added, "Hating and threatening me, attacking me... nothing is going to prevent me from completing my task [of representing] and defending our community."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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