News / Ottawa

Violent anti-gay shirt photographed at Saunders Farm prompts outrage

Many people commenting have expressed disgust with the photo, while others have defended the shirt as an example of free speech.

Julien Cl�ment, 18, is pictured in this photo wearing a black shirt with an anti-gay message. The photo was taken Saturday at Saunders Farm.

Whitney Martin

Julien Cl�ment, 18, is pictured in this photo wearing a black shirt with an anti-gay message. The photo was taken Saturday at Saunders Farm.

Update: On Wednesday, Ottawa police confirmed they were investigating after the photo of the man wearing the anti-gay shirt was posted online. Read more here.

On Saturday, Whitney Martin took an annual trip to Saunders Farm with some friends for the Halloween festivities. While sitting in the crowded lodge, one of Martin’s friends noticed a shocking message on the back of a stranger’s sweatshirt.

In purple capital letters on black fabric the shirt read: “ATG If you are gay, don’t approch (sic) me. I’ll kill you.”

“We couldn’t believe it. Instantly we thought ‘this is hate speech’ it’s in writing, threatening to kill someone because of their sexual orientation, it’s not right,” said Martin. “It’s not just saying ‘I’m not OK with being gay’ it’s saying ‘I will hurt you.’ There’s a line there.”

The friends notified a staff member, and later a confrontation with the man wearing the shirt took place. On Monday, Martin posted a photo of the sweatshirt to her Facebook page. Since then it’s been shared by close to 1,000 people and has 600 comments.

Many people commenting have expressed disgust with the photo, while others have defended the shirt as an example of free speech.

Angela Grant Saunders of Saunders Farm said she was “outraged" by the shirt and as soon as she was informed she asked that the man be removed by security.

"Saunders Farm will gladly take the brunt of this, if it means we can help raise more awareness for the acceptance of all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, or level of ability," reads an official statement from the farm.

The man in the photo is Julien Clément, 18, of Buckingham, Que.

He confirmed to Metro that he is the person in the photo and said he doesn’t regret wearing the shirt. He said the initials ATG are the name of his “gaming clan”, a group of friends who regularly play multiplayer video games together.

Around 20 young men appear in one Facebook photo wearing T-shirts and sweatshirts with the letters. In other photos, they don purple bandanas and purple masks.

Clément said he once “had a bad experience” with a gay person and now hates gay men, which is why he wore the shirt.

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