So, you guys know those viral stories about some waitress in Bumfuckistan, Nebraska who got stiffed on a tip and called a dyke or the N word or whatever by some mouthbreathing racist customer who can barely spell? And you know how most of those stories end up being totally fake, but not before collecting mass sympathy and sometimes a little GoFundMe cash on top of it? Yeah, you know the ones.
The brave men and women of the food service industry aren’t the only ones making up stories. Case in point, meet Calum McSwiggan.
To hear Calum tell it, he was visiting the LA area from London for a conference and was leaving a fabulous bar in West Hollywood when he was brutally attacked by three men.
He wrote on Instagram:
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.
The LGBT and YouTube communities being what they are, supporters and fans immediately rallied to surround this young man in nothing but love. Because, you know, that’s just how the gays get down when one of our own is in distress.
But love doesn’t pay medical bills, amiright? So, naturally, some dude named Daniel Lawson put up a GoFundMe campaign to support McSwiggan through this difficult time. It has since been removed but through the magic of the internet, we have saved an archived copy here.
Lawson writes in his GoFundMe plea for $15k:
We are coming together today with a heavy heart. The spate of recent violence against the LGBT community has turned personal and hit home. One of our LGBT YouTube friends, Calum McSwiggan, was viciously attacked by a group of homophobic thugs after he got separated from his friends in LA during a VidCon afterparty. I will post links to Calum’s story in his own words below.
We anticipate that there will be medical costs, as well as sudden unexpected life expenses, incurred by this heinous act. We want to show Calum our love and support during this time and that we have his back all the way down his road to recovery.
Please donate whatever you are able at this time. This is a time of testing for us as the LGBT community and now specifically as the LGBT Youtube community. Let’s band together and show our strength, invincibility and fierce love.
The campaign raised a whopping $0 before it was taken down.
We aren’t sure why exactly the fundraiser disappeared, but we have a pretty good guess.
Authorities who assisted McSwiggan at the scene, however, say he was uninjured, telling WeHoville that there were no bruises or injuries to show he had been attacked. While McSwiggan said three of his teeth were broken in the post, there is no bruising, swelling or lacerations around his mouth.
Captain Holly Perez of the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station told the site that McSwiggan claimed he had been attacked by three men he had left the bar with. While officers spoke to security guards at the bar, they observed McSwiggan pull a rearview mirror off a car in the parking lot and then start scratching another car’s paint with the broken mirror. McSwiggan was taken to the police station and charged with damaging the car.
While in the holding cell, police observed McSwiggan trying to harm himself according to Perez. He was then taken to the hospital, where he posted his Instagram update claiming he had been gaybashed and accusing the police of treating him badly.
When it comes to police best equipped to handle suspected gay bashing, I’m pretty sure the fine men and women in blue of West Hollywood are the absolute best. It doesn’t get much gayer than West Hollywood, unless maybe you’re driving to San Francisco Pride in your Subaru Outback wearing leather, with a lesbian’s tongue down your throat. But the second most gay place on Earth? Yeah, West Hollywood.
So it’s highly disrespectful to those civil servants and gay folks everywhere to make up an incident like this. As a gay man, McSwiggan should know better than anyone just how much hate the community faces on a daily basis. Being a member of the tribe doesn’t give him a pass on manufacturing violence that likely never occurred. His actions — if the allegations are true — are more damaging to his own community than any bigoted legislator or homophobic bully ever could be.
What’s our lesson here, kids? We’re pretty sure the guy who started the GoFundMe campaign meant well and thankfully no one donated to the cause before the truth came out, but when will people learn you just can’t assume things are what they seem? Stop running to GoFundMe the minute a story hits the news.