Drag artist questioned whether he even wanted to be gay after brutal homophobic attack

Patrick Kelleher
·3-min read

A gay man has said he was unable to sleep properly for months after a violent homophobic hate crime left him with horrific facial injuries.

Aspiring drag artist Ryan Turner, 24, was knocked unconscious by Brandon Forrester, 19, during the brutal assault on 13 July, 2019, in Preston, Lancashire.

Forrester was sentenced to nine months in a youth detention centre by judge David Potter over the attack, however, the sentence was suspended for 18 months as the judge agreed that the crime was considered out of character, according to the Chorley Guardian.

The teenager was ordered to pay Turner £1,000 in compensation, and was also told to pay £250 in costs. He was also ordered total part in a rehabilitation activity.

The court heard that Turner finished work at 11pm and met his friends for a night out in Preston.

At around 6am the next morning, they went to the McDonald’s on Friargate, where a group started to shout homophobic abuse at Turner and his friends.

Forrester and others in the group told Turner that “gay is wrong” and that they should “die”. Turner ignored the group, but his female friend confronted the men.

Turner tried to stop his friend from confronting the men, put as he pulled her away, Forrester punched him, knocking him unconscious in the process.

Gay man Ryan Turner left with ‘bruising and swelling’ following homophobic hate crime.

Sentencing Forrester for the crime, judge Potter said: “It was a heavy blow, it sent him to the floor and left him with serious facial bruising and swelling. I have seen the photograph taken and they show horrendous facial injuries.

“For your part you had been out celebrating your 18th birthday. What a way to spend your birthday – you clearly drunk far too much and you became involved in this horrendous attack.”

Forrester had previously delayed the case going to court after he tried to argue that he did not target Turner because of his sexual orientation, which led to a trial of issue before magistrates.

However, the magistrates ruled that the attack was in fact a homophobic hate crime.

Speaking to the Chorley Guardian about the impact of the attack, Turner said: “Usually I would shrug things off. But the year this happened was the second time I had been physically attacked.”

He added: “I still don’t know how to feel, I really thought he wouldn’t have walked free from court.

“Part of me feels like everything I have been through for the last 18 months is for nothing, but then if my story helps someone else then it was worth it.”

Turner also said he lost his confidence after the attack, in part due to the extent of his injuries, and he gave up modelling and his drag work until late last year.

“He made me question myself a lot. I put have spent two months driving every night, not sleeping, questioning if I wanted to be here and if I wanted to go down the path of being gay.”