Quebec fashion designer Markantoine Lynch-Boisvert and his partner were out celebrating Lynch-Boisvert's most recent contract Friday evening when the night took a dark turn.
Lynch-Boisvert and Alex James Taboureau they say were at Bar Le Jazz, located in La Malbaie, Que., when a man began berating them with hate-filled, homophobic slurs.
The couple decided to leave the establishment, but three men followed them outside, Taboureau said.
"There was one on me, who hit me in the head," he said.
The other two attacked his partner, he recalled, and he heard one say "stop you're going to kill him."
On Facebook, Lynch-Boisvert wrote that he can still hear those words — shouted at the one who was kicking him in the face while "Alex was struggling to help me, fear in his eyes."
The attackers allegedly punched and kicked both men in the head. They both suffered concussions.
Lynch-Boisvert, a well-known designer who is originally from the Mauricie region, underwent surgery in a Quebec City hospital to repair three fractures.
"It was traumatic," said Taboureau.
On Facebook, Lynch-Boisvert said people should not boycott La Malbaie or the Charlevoix region because of the attack. He says it was an isolated incident and the area is "too beautiful to be cast aside."
But it is a sad situation, he wrote.
"It's sad for our community and also our society as a whole. Thank you for all the nice comments and the love that has been sent to us."
Lynch-Boisvert was born in Shawinigan in 1989, according to his website. He started his Markantoine label immediately after graduating from the Université du Québec à Montréal in 2015.
According to his Facebook profile, Lynch-Boisvert met Taboureau in 2012.
Sûreté du Québec officers will be meeting with witnesses of the alleged attack as the investigation continues, said spokesman Sgt. Louis-Philippe Bibeau.
La Malbaie is approximately 125 kilometres northeast of Quebec City.
Advocates condemn incident
Quebec City's Arc-en-Ciel Alliance — an organization that works to combat homophobia — has strongly denounced the incident.
The organization is hosting a festival in Quebec City next week in its ongoing effort to sensitize the population to sexual diversity. Its executive director, Julie Dubois, said this event is a sad reminder that the battle against homophobia is not over.
"We are really sad for those who have suffered this attack," she told Radio-Canada. "We will continue to work and we will be there to support them."
The alleged attack has sparked outrage online. Politicians and celebrities have denounced the incident on social media.
Federal Minister of Tourism Mélanie Joly called the attack "completely unacceptable" on Twitter.
"These acts of homophobia have no place in our home," she wrote. "My thoughts are with you two."