Warning: The images in this post are extremely graphic.
This is what the face homophobia looks like.
Wilfred de Bruijn was beaten unconscious in Paris one night, when holding hands with his boyfriend. Unknown assailants kicked him to the ground.
De Bruijn’s boyfriend said that he heard a group of about four men yelling, “Hey, look they’re gays,” before the couple was launched upon.
Wilfred was beaten to the ground, and only woke up once he was pulled into an ambulance.
The next morning on April 7, he took a photo of his face, and posted it to his Facebook page.
This is the photo he shared.
And this is what he said:
“Sorry to show you this. It’s the face of Homophobia. Last night 19th arr [arrondissement] Paris, Olivier and I were badly beaten up just for walking arm in arm. I woke up in an ambulance covered in blood, missing tooth and broken bones around the eye. I’m home now. Very sad. Olivier takes care of me. Forbidden to work for at least 10 days.”
De Bruijn was left with five fractures in his head and face, deep cuts and a lost tooth. He is beaten and bloody, his eyes bloodshot. The colours across his face range from blue, to green, to yellow, to blood red. His expressions are distorted by swelling.
After Wilfred shared the photo, the reaction on social media was immediate. It was shared thousands upon thousands of times.
Three days later, by April 10, protests were being held in Paris to support gay rights – and condemn violence against gay people — and Wilfred’s became a symbol of the rallies.
De Bruijn received overwhelming support and kind messages on social media, and a few days later posted a thank you on Facebook, with a picture of his partner.
Dear friends, you can’t imagine how essential and heartwarming your overwhelming support for Olivier and me these last days have been. We are deeply moved and grateful and hope it’s a sign of better times. Please share ;-)
The attack has come in the aftermath of the French government voting to legalise gay marriage last week. President Francois Hollande has pushed a same-sex marriage bill through parliament – and additionally pushed for the legalisation of same-sex adoption.
The bill is set to pass through parliament without any difficulties – but because the outcome seems definite, this has led to particularly outraged street protests, from those who are opposed to marriage equality.
Campaign group SOS Homophobie has said that since the debate hit the mainstream in French politics, verbal and physical attacks against the gay community have increased significantly.
In the past week alone, the group has received reports of over 60 attacks on gay people, and over the past three months attacks have tripled since the same period in 2012.
De Bruijn spoke to the Daily Mail, about the incident – and the current culture of homophobia in France:
‘I certainly feel there’s been an increase in homophobia,’ said De Bruijn from his apartment in Paris’ working class 19th district, where the attack took place.
‘What (the anti-gay marriage campaign) are saying is that they’re not homophobic: lesbians and gays are nice people, but don’t let them get close to children – that’s very dangerous. It’s OK for them to live together, but not like other couples with the same protection because it’s not really the same thing.’
‘These people are all professionals of the spoken word. They know very well what can happen if you repeat, repeat, repeat that these people are lower human beings. Of course it will have a result.’
The French senate is expected to conclude its debate on the legalisation of same-sex marriage this week – and the new laws are likely to pass.