A group of LGBT rights advocates and concerned Minnesota locals spent their Memorial Day rallying in support of a 21-year-old gay Duluth man who was rushed to the emergency room after allegedly being assaulted at a graduation party on Saturday.
According to The Pioneer Press, Max Pelofske says he was punched and kicked by a group of young men after being struck in the head by a flying beer car and thrown to the ground while attending a party in New Independence Township, Minn. The party was being thrown in honor of Pelofske's friend's sister, who will graduate from a nearby high school in a few days.
About 100 people gathered in support of Pelofske, who has since been released from the hospital, at the rally on Memorial Day afternoon. Though the incident has not been formally classified as a hate crime, two alleged male assailants, ages 18 and 19, have since been taken into custody. Pending charges against the 19-year-old are fourth-degree assault, which is a bias crime, and possession of marijuana, while information on pending charges against the 18-year-old was not available, according to The Advocate.
Pelofske's mother told the Northland New Center that her son remains "really shaken up" by the incident. "Absolutely, yes, he thinks it was a hate crime, they did this because he was gay," she said. "He's going to be okay physically, but mentally...not really good right now."
Added Jesse Campbell, a gay rights advocate from Duluth: "We want to give people a positive place to channel their energies. We also want to give people an opportunity to grieve that this could happen and to show support for Max and his family."
Still, accounts of the incident vary. One student told the Duluth News Tribune that it was actually Pelofske who instigated the fight, after two other guests confronted him for allegedly stealing alcohol from the largely underage group.
"I know for a fact that no one would touch him just because he was gay," Cody Mercier is quoted as saying. "This all happened because he was stealing alcohol."
Take a look at other alleged anti-gay bullying cases below:
Though details of the 17-year-old Reese's April suicide are scarce, his boyfriend Alex Smith spoke frankly about the repeated bullying the teen had experienced at school. As one official is quoted as telling Ogden OUTreach off the record: "It happens here about once a week, but officially, you know, it doesn't happen here."
Kenneth Weishuhn jr.
The 14-year-old took his own life after friends and family say that classmates sent him death threats on his cell phone and made him the subject of a Facebook hate group. "People that were originally his friends, they kind of turned on him," sister Kayla Weishuhn, a sophomore, is quoted as saying. "A lot of people, they either joined in or they were too scared to say anything."
Eric James Borges
In January, just one month after filming an "It Gets Better" video in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth, 19-year-old Eric James Borges took his own life. Borges, who went by EricJames among friends, worked as an intern with The Trevor Project, and as a supplemental instructor at the College of the Sequoias, according to Queer Landia blogger Jim Reeves.
Jacob Rogers had been bullied at Cheatham County Central High School for the past four years, but at the start of his senior year, it had become so bad he dropped out of school before taking his own life. "He started coming home his senior year saying 'I don't want to go back. Everyone is so mean. They call me a faggot, they call me gay, a queer,'" friend Kaelynn Mooningham said.
Eighteen-year-old Jeffrey Fehr, who was known as a skilled athlete and previously served as the first male captain of his high school's cheerleading squad, hanged himself on New Year's Day in the front entrance of his family's Granite Bay home after enduring what his parents describe as a lifetime of anti-gay bullying.
The disturbing rash of LGBT teen suicides began receiving attention last fall. Among those who took their own life was Tyler Clementi, an 18-year-old Rutgers University student who jumped off the George Washington Bridge between New Jersey and New York after his roommate allegedly filmed him having sex with another man.
Seth Walsh, a 13-year-old California teen, hung himself in September 2010 after reportedly being bullied because he was gay.
Raymond S. Chase
Gay Rhode Island-based student Raymond S. Chase, 19, became the fifth in 2010's disturbing spate of teen suicides last fall.
Obama's Anti-Bullying Video
In October 2010, President Obama released a video in support of LGBT youth who were struggling with being bullied.
In November 2010, Jim Swilley, the pastor of a Georgia megachurch, revealed to his congregation that he is gay. The 52-year-old father of four said the recent spate of teen suicides, particularly that of Clementi, prompted him to change his mind. "For some reason his situation was kind of the tipping point with me," Swilley told CNN's Don Lemon this weekend.
Daniel Radcliffe Honored
In June, "Harry Potter" actor Daniel Radcliffe was honored with the Trevor Project's "Hero" Award for his <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/02/26/daniel-radcliffe-speaks-o_n_478960.html" target="_hplink">ongoing suicide prevention efforts</a> for LGBT youth.
In September, Jamey Rodemeyer, a 14-year-old boy from Williamsville, N.Y., took his life Sunday after what his parents claim was years of bullying because of struggles with his sexuality, months after posting this "It Gets Better" clip on YouTube.
Lady Gaga's Dedication
After vowing to stop bullying and make it illegal, Lady Gaga -- a longtime advocate for LGBT causes -- dedicated a performance to Rodemeyer at the iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas. "I wrote this record about how your identity is really all you've got when you're in school," Gaga told the crowd. "So tonight, Jamey, I know you're up there looking at us, and you're not a victim. You're a lesson to all of us."
Bachmann Speaks Out
Days after being faced with a petition that urged her to publicly address gay bullying in her district, Rep. Michele Bachmann noted, "That's not a federal issue," according to CBS News. Previously, Tammy Aaberg, the mother of Justin Aaberg, a gay teen in the Anoka-Hennepin school district who committed suicide after having been bullied in area schools, delivered petitions to Bachmann's office asking her for support.
Jamie Hubley, a gay 15-year-old from Ottawa, Canada, committed suicide Oct. 14. In this clip, the teen performs Mike Posner's "Cooler Than Me."
Hubley Tribute Video
Friends created a poignant tribute video to Hubley, the Canadian 10th grader who committed suicide on Friday.