Calgary drag artist spat on while filming on Stephen Avenue

Click to play video 'Video shows Calgary drag artist being spit on while filming on Stephen Avenue' Video shows Calgary drag artist being spit on while filming on Stephen Avenue
WATCH: Duke Carson, a Calgary drag performer, said they were shooting a video at the Pride sidewalk on Stephen Avenue when a man spat on them. Michael King reports – Aug 3, 2020

A Calgary drag artist has shared disturbing footage of a man spitting on them during a video shoot on Stephen Avenue on Saturday.

Duke Carson was filming their performance for Calgary’s virtual Pride week on the rainbow crosswalk when the incident happened.

“We were at the part of the video where I was getting ready to go up into a handstand… and I heard some people approaching from behind,” said Carson.

“Then I felt someone spit on me and I saw some droplets go past my leg. I was just so shocked.”

The video shows two men walking past Carson, and when they reach the sidewalk, one turns to look at Carson before spitting.

Mackenzie Jefferies was shooting the video and said it took a minute to realize what happened.

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“I was super frustrated, turned around and started going back down the road yelling at [the man who spit] trying to get him to stop,” said Jefferies.

“I’m just trying to create a commotion, to get his attention or get anyone’s attention, and he just took off. He was too far down the road so there was no point.”

Read more: No 2020 Calgary Pride Parade on Stephen Avenue due to COVID-19, festival moves online

Carson said that even in the minutes leading up to the spitting, they had experienced prejudicial comments from other people on Stephen Avenue.

“I’ve had all sorts of homophobic slurs and derogatory language,” said Carson.

“I’ve had my ass slapped a couple of times but I’ve never had someone so physically disgusted with my presence, with my existence that they felt need to spit on me.”

Read more: Graffiti targets Airdrie LGBTQ community for 3rd time in 2 months

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With Calgary Pride starting on Aug. 28, Carson hopes people can learn more about LGBTQ+ issues.

“If there’s any good that can come out of this and any sort of additional safety concerns and awareness being brought to the community, then in that sense I suppose I would be glad that it was caught on video,” Carson said.

“If you can’t understand where somebody is coming from, the least you can do is respect it and just act with kindness.”

Calgary police response

Police said they are aware of the video, and investigators left messages for both Carson and a witness, but as of Monday, those calls had not been returned.

Officers said they are looking at launching an investigation led by the Diversity Resource Team, which includes the Hate Crimes co-ordinator.

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Community reaction

Parker Chapple, executive director of Calgary Pride, said they felt fearful for Carson as they watched the video.

“I’m angry but I’m sad more than anything,” said Chapple. “This was a very purposeful and violent hate crime and should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

Chapple had a chance to talk to Carson about the incident and said the whole LGBTQ+ community is supporting them.

“Duke is a remarkably resilient and talented individual, but no single person should ever have to endure the experience that Duke did,” said Chapple.

“They’re making an offering of their creativity and their passion and their experience, and that’s being offered for free to anybody. Nobody deserves to have that spit on.”

Chapple added there are over 100 diversity and inclusion training sessions planned for Calgary Pride Week.

The sessions are being offered for free online.