Aaron Poirier was getting dressed at the Robert Lee YMCA in downtown Vancouver on Nov 3 when a man began leaving his things all over the area. Poirier asked the man if that was necessary. "He said, 'You better watch out or I'm going to crack you. You listen, you fag, I'll crack you,'" Poirier, 36, alleges. Poirier says he got a manager who confronted the man. "He denied it," Poirier says, adding the manager took a statement from him and that the man continued to act aggressively as he was leaving. The following day, Poirier returned with his partner, Olivier Ferlatte, 32. They went to the far end of the change room. The man was there again and began shouting, Poirier says. "Hey, you going to call the big boss?" Poirier alleges the man said. When Poirier asked the man what he said, he repeated it, Poirier alleges. At that point, a YMCA staff member came in to defuse the situation. It didn’t work. Poirier says the threats escalated. "He doesn't know what he's got coming," Poirier alleges the man said. "He doesn't know what he's getting into." Poirier says he again met with a manager. "I said he threatened me twice. Once, he very explicitly said he was going to punch me." "My boyfriend was called a fag. Threaten twice by the same guy in the change room. Y management will do nothing," "The YMCA refuses to revoke his membership despite threats being done on two different days, in front of staff. YMCA of Greater Vancouver spokesperson Kelly Walker says staff met with both men after "an argument occurred" on the Nov 3-4 weekend. She confirms that "a derogatory term was used." "The Y met with both men and communicated that aggression and discrimination was unacceptable," Walker says. She calls the incident “regrettable and unacceptable" but says it is "an opportunity to teach the individual in question about appropriate behaviour and acceptance of all people regardless of their sexual orientation.” "The member in question apologized to the Y and assured us this would not happen again," Walker says. "There is now a letter in this member's file. This member has been notified if there is another incident like this again, their membership will be suspended." She acknowledges that Robert Lee YMCA (located just blocks from the gay village) has a significant number of gay members, and says the YMCA values diversity. "We take matters like this very seriously," she says. Aaron Poirier believes if the incident were racially motivated, the YMCA response would be different. "It's just shocking," he says. "Would they be talking about a second chance?" So should the member have been expelled? Or did the Y handle this situation properly?
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