Guest Post – Chevi Rabbit: From HATE to HOPE
(On Thursday July 23rd, Chevi Rabbit was attacked by three men yelling homophobic slurs, near Edmonton’s University of Alberta campus, in what is being investigated as a hate crime. Following the attack, a march was organized to signal that hatred is not welcome in Edmonton, and over 200 residents came out to show support, including Deputy Premier Thomas Lukaszuk and former alderman Michael Phair. I invited Chevi Rabbit to write about what happened here, both the attack and the rally that followed — M)
Hello Everyone, My name is Chevi Rabbit. Here s a little background on who I am. I was born and raised in central Alberta. I grew up on a small acreage near the town of Ponoka. I am of Cree and French heritage with a little bit of Ukrainian as well, this is a very Canadian history, to be of mixed heritage, Especially of North American Indian and European! Very Canadian and is very unique as well, something to be proud of. After high school, I decided to attend Red Deer College for Hospitality and Tourism Management. I had a wonderful two years and made so many long lasting friendships. During this time, I took evening classes at Marvel College for Makeup Artistry. I have always been very creative and artistic. One of my favorite hobbies is fine art painting, photography and makeup artistry. During my final year at Red Deer College I came to the conclusion that I need to get my degree!
I’m now in my final year at the University of Alberta, I will gradate with a Degree in Native Studies and Anthropology. My successful side job has been working in the cosmetic industry — not only do I freelance, but I have also worked for Murale, NARS Cosmetics and now Yves Saint Laurent & Giorgio Armani. I’m very passionate about art in general! I love how I can paint a face and the individual transforms not only in appearance but in confidence as well! They light up and I can tell that they feel great about and they are happy! That is the best part of my job as a makeup artist! It very rewarding! I started wearing makeup in my mid teens, It was like art! It’s a fun way to express myself and who I was at the time! I have worn makeup almost every day, with the occasional break; my skin needs to breathe every now and then!
On July 19, I was walking from my dorm house near the University of Alberta campus to Safeway, which were only a few blocks away. Then suddenly at the corner of 110st and 84avenue three men pulled up on a car and began yelling “You’re a faggot! A fucking faggot, you’re a fag”. The area was heavily populated; there was large group of people playing volleyball, joggers, and other residence going about their every day. I was shocked what was happening! Especially considering my neighborhood! It is a nicer part of the city! I was sure what to do, so I replied “Thank You” and walked away! I was so embarrassed because I knew everyone one could hear what they were saying, too! I made it halfway down the street and I was texting my friend about the incident, I did not realize that one of the men had gotten out of the car and came up behind me, put my in a head lock and threw me to the ground! I was stunned and shocked! He ran away quickly with my iPhone, but a group of witnesses saw what happened and intercepted! They chased them away and took down the license plate and descriptions! One of them replied “I am so sorry that happened to you”, they were so kind and helpful! One of them called the police and within 20 minutes 3 police cruisers arrived! One of the police loaned me his cell to call my mom! I was trying not to cry through the entire ordeal, but as soon as I heard my moms’ voice, I could hold it in anymore! I cried so hard! I told my mom that I was attacked because I’m gay and they were calling me a faggot and stole my phone. She started crying and said she was leaving from Ponoka to Edmonton to come see me.
After my verbal attack/assault/ robbery, I started to doubt if I should wear makeup, if I should be less visibly gay? I have always stayed true to myself. I consider myself very androgynous and obviously very feminine, but I am comfortable with myself as a feminine gay man! I have always been very comfortable with my sexuality. I credit this to my mother, who is such a strong, brave and kind soul. She was very accepting when I came out at a very young age. My family and community are very accepting! I do believe that if your child is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, a parent needs to accept them for who they are and love them, so they will not any identity issues! So that they can move past the topic of sexuality, gender roles, and grow comfortable being their unique self! And live a healthy normal lifestyle! Find love, a career; family and most importantly make memorable memories.
I was going to remain silent about what happened to me as I was so embarrassed! But a good friend said, “This isn’t right, it not fair! You need to say something, speak up”. So I spoke to the Edmonton Sun about my ordeal and shared my story. The story spread like wildfire. I think why it spread so quickly, is because it’s not just my story, but also a shared story among many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. That many of us at some point in time have been victimized by hate! That we were bullied because of our differences! That our uniqueness was some how a threat to certain groups of people! The media shared a story to the public and many people felt sympathy towards, because at the core of our human souls, we understand that everyone want love and acceptance.
With the help of friends, we organized a rally and march in response! Creating a Facebook page called “NOH8 Taking Back Greater Edmonton. I wanted the public to know that hate will not be tolerated. Here is a description of the very successful event! We had great response and hundreds of people showed up! I have received so much email from supports asking me not to change and to continue to wear makeup! I promised I wont change and I will continue to wear fabulous makeup!
August 2nd, 2012 at 6pm
“After the recent alleged hate crime attack on Chevi Rabbitt, University of Alberta Student and Professional Make up Artist, we have decided to hold a march and rally to show that hate crimes like this one will not be tolerated in Edmonton. Please come out and show your support for equality and safety in Edmonton. We encourage you to wear purple. We will start the march at the scene of the attack at 110 Street and 84 Avenue we will then march Through Campus (holding hands with a person of the same sex) to the Alberta Legislator Building where we will have a rally with prominent list of speakers.
List of Speakers and performer:
1. Alberta Deputy Premier, Thomas Lukaszuk
2. Director of Community Relations at University of Alberta, Michael Phair
3. NDP candidate for Calgary-Klein, Marc Powers
4. Aboriginal Federal NDP Candiate for Edmonton Centre, Lewis Cardinal
5. United Church, Gary Simpson
6. MLA for Edmonton Beverly-Clareview- Deron Bilous
7. Director Aboriginal Student Services Centre, Shana Dion (AMIQAAQ2 Born – This Way: Two Spirited Voices Conference 2012)
8. Openly Gay Canadian University Student and Makeup Artist, Chevi Rabbit
9. Performance by Broadway singer & Tony award nominated, Michelle Rios
The fact that so many prominent leaders agreed to speak illustrates that we will not tolerate hate! I was thrilled but not surprised at with the positive response from the community, police and media! I wasn’t surprised because since I went public about my attacked I have received so much support and well wishes! I know so many people care! Hundred of supporters showed up in purple attire! We were the “United Purple”! From very young to elders, many people came out to support equality for all walks of life! Canada is truly a unique country that allows its citizens to be their unique self and feel safe in doing so! Its not all perfect though — it would be a very boring place if it was — there does need to me more awareness and education to particular demographics on tolerance and acceptance! We may have legalized rights but we still need social equality, so that very soon, it will be normal part of life to see openly gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people expressing their love for their partners in public, like a hugging and holding hands! And feel safe in doing so! That our uniqueness will be tolerance and accepted! So that we don’t have to hold rallies or march in protest of injustices!
I feel so inspired by the events that have taken place! I want to help bring more awareness and education about social equality and tolerance! That it is okay to be your UNIQUE self and you should feel safe in doing so! Canada is an accepting and tolerant place! We can be fabulous and if you want to wear makeup! Go for it! Be fabulous!
The Edmonton Police have labeled this a “Gay Hate Crime”’ and are still investigating with no arrest made, yet!