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But the gay YouTube star’s Sunday night party—a sort of closing celebration for both VidCon and Pride month—was cut short when he said he was attacked and brutally beaten by three men outside of West Hollywood gay bar the Abbey.
Yet, the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Department said Thursday that McSwiggan wasn’t beaten and was, in fact, arrested after he allegedly vandalized a car.
According to McSwiggan’s friend and fellow YouTuber Riyadh Kalaf, the alleged attack was not a random event. In a series of tweets, Kalaf said that the men referred to he and McSwiggan by name and had used their social media posts to locate them.
McSwiggan posted a hospital photo to Instagram on Monday night, along with a description of the attack. He said he suffered three broken teeth and required six stitches in his head.
Last night was the worst night of my life and I’m really struggling to find the words to talk about it. After one of the most wonderful weekends at VidCon we went out to a gay club to celebrate, and towards the end of the evening I was separated from my friends and beaten up by three guys. The authorities should have been there to help and protect me but instead they treated me like a second class citizen. With three broken teeth and six stitches in my forehead, I’ve never felt so terrified to be a gay man in the public eye. All I can do is thank my wonderful YouTube friends for being with me the whole way. I’d be lost without them. Right now I don’t feel that I’m in the right place to talk about this but I will be addressing this fully in the future. UPDATE: I’ve posted a full statement of the night’s events on my Facebook page.
A photo posted by Calum McSwiggan (@calummcswiggan) on
Recent reports have highlighted growing homophobia on YouTube. After the platform launched a LGBT-supportive #ProudToBe video featuring many of the most popular YouTubers, including McSwiggan, comments became so vitriolic that they had to be disabled. It was also the most-disliked video in the history of the YouTube Spotlight page.
McSwiggan, whose popular YouTube channel features a “Gay Sex 101” series and the hit confessional video “I did gay porn and I’m sorry,” was not the only LGBT celebrity who posted about being gay-bashed over the weekend.
Musician Casey Spooner of Fischerspooner also posted news of an attack in Brooklyn on Sunday. On Instagram, Spooner described being hit in the face with a bike lock by a man who yelled “faggot.”
Sitting in the backseat of cab at a stoplight on Bushwick Ave. around midnight last night, a guy on a bicycle rolled by and popped me in the face with his bike lock. I’m fine. I’m lucky. Just a scrape. Matthew Conley jumped out of the cab and chased him down the street. The guy yelled back “FAGGOT”. It was a shocking end to a beautiful day of celebration.
A photo posted by Casey Spooner (@caseyspooner) on
Spooner called the sudden attack “a shocking end to a beautiful day of celebration.”
In multiple cities, this year’s pride month celebrations were tainted by fear and increased police presence after the Orlando shooting.
“I’ve never been so terrified,” McSwiggan wrote on Instagram, “to be a gay man in the public eye.”
On Tuesday afternoon, the blog WEHOville reported that McSwiggan’s claims contradicted those of West Hollywood Sheriff’s Capt. Holly Perez.
In a statement emailed to the Daily Dot, the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department said:
“The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has an affirmative duty to fully investigate all assaults and
reports of violence in our community. Deputies from West Hollywood Station responded to and
investigated the report by Calum McSwiggan that he was assaulted by three males after leaving a local
nightclub early Monday morning. Responding deputies were unable to substantiate the assault. Mr.
McSwiggan, who had no visible injuries, was subsequently arrested after deputies observed him
vandalizing a car in the 8900 block of Santa Monica Boulevard. After being booked and photographed,
Mr. McSwiggan was placed into a cell by himself at West Hollywood Station. Mr. McSwiggan was then
observed injuring himself with the handle and receiver to a payphone inside the cell. Medical personnel
were summoned and Mr. McSwiggan was transported to a local hospital for treatment. Mr.
McSwiggan’s booking photo was taken prior to deputies seeing Mr. McSwiggan injuring himself.”
Here’s the mugshot released by police.
Khalaf, though, is still backing McSwiggan.
I’ve been told to say nothing before court tomorrow but staying silent here is killing us. If you’re a friend just DM me for the truth.
— Calum McSwiggan (@CalumMcSwiggan) June 29, 2016
Update 4:02pm CT, June 28: Includes West Hollywood Sheriff’s Department’s claims via WEHOville.
Update 8:30pm CT, June 28: Includes the full news release from the Sheriff’s Department’s and the responses from McSwiggan and Khalaf.
Mary Emily O'Hara is an LGBTQ reporter. Her work has appeared in Rolling Stone, NBC Out, Daily Dot, Broadly, Vice, the Daily Beast, the Advocate, Huffington Post, DNAinfo, Al Jazeera, and Portland's Pulitzer Prize-winning newsweekly Willamette Week, among other outlets.