Vigil held in light of recent beatings of gay men

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SALT LAKE CITY -- A candlelight vigil was held at Liberty Park to raise awareness following the beatings of three gay men in Utah in recent weeks.

Speaking at the vigil was 20-year-old Dane Hall, an openly gay man, who was attacked outside of Club Sound two weeks ago, on a night the bar had a designated gay theme. A second gay man was also attacked in the same area that night, although police do not believe the two incidents are related.

The vigil, which was scheduled after the beating of Hall, comes on the heels of another assault in American Fork Thursday night involving a gay man outside a salon.

Camron Nelson was resting at home Friday following the most recent assault. His sister Marnie Bales spoke before the crowd about tolerance.

"He just wants more than anything for people to have compassion for one another," Bales said. "He feels badly that other people can be so unaccepting of some part of themselves that they would lash out at someone else. He just wants people to create a space of healing and compassion.

"He's doing fine. He doesn't want to really talk to anybody. His spirit is a little shaken. But he's doing fine," said Mike Kowallis, the owner of Relik Salon. "The one thing he kept saying was he felt sorry for the people who did it to him. They must have some real issues they're dealing with. I feel sorry for them."

He just wants more than anything for people to have compassion for one another.

–Marnie Bales

Nelson was taking out the trash after work about 12:45 a.m. when as many as three men approached him and beat him while using gay slurs, according to police.

Nelson believes the men may have followed him when he earlier left a club close to the salon, Kowallis said.

American Fork police Friday said they were looking for witnesses or anyone from the public who may know something about the assault. People with information can call 801- 763-3020.

American Fork police confirmed Friday they had been in contact with Salt Lake police detectives to see if there was any connection to their recent cases.

Police were handing out cards Friday night with their crime tip line on them, asking for any witnesses to Hall's beating and also asking to hear from any victim of violence.

Hall, who had his jaw broken in three places and six teeth knocked out, posted on Facebook Friday, "Thank you to all that show up and help support future victims in out community."

After the vigil, the group marched with glow sticks through the streets of Salt Lake City. They plan to show pictures of Hall's injuries "to make the public aware of why we, as a community desperately need to walk into the light of a world free from hate."


Written by Pat Reavy and Sarah Dallof.


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