Calum McSwiggan made his name as a YouTube personality whose videos discuss LGBT issues.
The 26-year-old’s channel, which had 62,809 subscribers early Thursday morning, is mostly focused on sex – his videos have titles like “I Paid For Sex in Thailand” and “I Did Gay Porn & I’m Sorry,” interspersed with issue-centric ones like “I Was Fired For Being Gay” and “Homophobic Bullying | Your Stories.”
Following the June 12 mass shooting in Pulse, an Orlando gay nightclub, he choked “we do not deserve this (expletive) treatment” through tears in a video.
Fifteen days later, McSwiggan posted a disturbing photo to his Instagram account showing him in a hospital bed with bleary, puffy eyes and a bandage on his head.
“Last night was the worst night of my life and I’m really struggling to find the words to talk about it,” the caption read. It described an attack on him outside a California gay club. According to the post, he was out celebrating after a weekend at VidCon when he was separated from his friends and “beaten up by three guys.”
“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,” the caption said.
Police, though, found no evidence of such an event and have charged him with filing a false police report, according to the Los Angeles Times.
According to a statement Los Angeles County Police sent to The Washington Post, “responding deputies were unable to substantiate the assault.” When they arrived on scene at the nightclub, they found McSwiggan, “who had no visible injuries,” vandalizing a car on Santa Monica Boulevard.
Though they had responded to an alleged assault, the officers ended up arresting McSwiggan for vandalism.
Police said he received the head injury after being booked and photographed in the West Hollywood Station.
According to the statement, “Mr. McSwiggan was placed into a cell by himself at West Hollywood Station. Mr. McSwiggan was then observed injuring himself with the handle and receiver to a payphone inside the cell. . . . Mr. McSwiggan’s booking photo was taken prior to deputies seeing Mr. McSwiggan injuring himself.”
In that booking photo, there is no visible evidence of a head injury:
After McSwiggan hit himself, authorities said he was “transported to a local hospital for treatment.” He received six stitches in his head and was released on Tuesday at 9:13 p.m.
On Wednesday, he was charged with filing a fake police report.
That same day, he posted a long note on Facebook admitting he hit himself on the head with a pay phone receiver in order to be transferred from jail to a hospital so his father wouldn’t have to pay bail – though it should be noted, McSwiggan was released from jail and the hospital on a citation with a court date, not on bail.
“I knew I had to injure myself to get out of the cell and into a hospital,” he wrote. “And it was the only solution I could find to get myself out of there.”
From McSwiggan’s post:
“My father eventually called the station and I could hear them speaking to him on the phone. I pleaded with them to let me speak with him but they wouldn’t allow me to. They were asking him to pay $20,000 to release me otherwise I’d have to stay in jail until my court case. I did not understand this was bail or how bail worked and I freaked out. I knew he would pay it and couldn’t allow him to do that. In a moment of desperation to get out of the cell, I took the pay phone off the wall and hit myself once across the forehead with it as hard as I could. I knew I had to injure myself to get out of the cell and into a hospital, and it was the only solution I could find to get myself out of there. This is incredibly out of character for me and is testament to how upset I was in that moment. I do not regret doing this as I could still be in the jail cell if I didn’t.”
In the post, he also admitted to vandalizing a car, writing, “In a moment of devastation, anger and blind rage I kicked the wing mirror of the attacker’s car until it broke and then ripped it off with my hands. I also scratched the front of the car with the broken wing mirror before returning back to The Abbey for help.”
Though police said otherwise, his post reiterated the claim that he was beaten by three men, who he claimed bruised his right wrist, collarbone and left arm while breaking three of his teeth.
“I have spent my whole adult life campaigning for LGBT+ equality and did not take this attack lightly. I can not say for 100% that this was because I was gay but I can’t think of any other justification for this random attack,” he wrote.
The reaction to his posting varied.
“50 gays were actually murdered a couple weeks ago and this stunt just seems disrespectful to them,” wrote one user.
“When our citizens are dying and you wanna make this about you . . . absolutely pathetic. You embarrass our community and I hope this judge throws the book at you,” wrote another.
In support of McSwiggan, one wrote, “OMG guys, we are supposed to be a community and still when one of us is down, we judge him. We ask people to be fair to us and not judged us, and still we do it to ourself.”
Another wrote, “Nobody deserves the kind of harassment you’ve been getting.”
Many on Twitter have compared the McSwiggan case to the openly gay pastor who wrote a homophobic slur on a cake with icing, then claimed the slur was there when he purchased it from Whole Foods.
That pastor isn’t the only one accused of faking hate crimes in the recent past. In February, three black students at the State University of New York in Albany made national headlines after claiming to be verbally attacked on a bus by white men and women. Their allegations turned out to be untrue, and they were arrested for attacking a woman on that bus.
And in April, the creators of an image found in a Salisbury (Md.) University library of a hanging stick figure with the n-word and “#whitepower” near it were identified as black students, USA Today reported.
(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Travis M. Andrews