I recently read something that informed me there has been a reduction in the reporting of homophobic crime.
It would be easy to interpret that as saying there has been a reduction in crimes against gay people, but the important word to focus on is ‘reporting’. The fact that there has been a reduction in the reporting of homophobic crime does not equate to a reduction in the crime itself. I have some experiences to share with you that show that homophobic crime is very much still alive.
I live in Warwickshire, which is a county very much stuck behind the times. Recently I have been trying to drag it into the 21st Century by setting up an LGBTQ youth support charity and going about organising Warwickshire’s first pride event. I have come up against much opposition in doing so. From having funding bids rejected by the local Council on the basis of being “one of those groups” (a reference to my LGBT charity’s support group), to having a letter sent to me by a County Councillor who insisted there are no gay people in Warwickshire, it has been a difficult to achieve what I set out to do. So with opposition to anything gay in the local authority, I am not really surprised that the same mentality filters down into the great unwashed – the general public.
Indeed some of the Neanderthals that oppose gay people appear to be unwashed, but I don’t think that has a direct correlation to their views. Putting bitchiness to one side, there are two instances of homophobia I have experienced that I am going to share with you today.
The first took place in a pub I used to frequent each weekend, which I eventually started running a karaoke at. Over the years that I went to the pub, I would often come up against people making comments about my sexuality and I knew that I was not liked by the majority. I didn’t really care though and continued to go to that pub out of sheer stubbornness not to be driven away by narrow minds.
I figured that my friends were with me and they would protect me if something happened. One night that something did occur. I was running my karaoke and accidently pressed a button which cut someone off whilst they were singing. I laughed along with everyone else, but one person shouted out “ha ha you poof”. My immediate thought was to grab the microphone and say something back to him. So I did. I got hold of the microphone and called him a “bloody Neanderthal”.
At that point the man got up, came charging towards me and physically attacked me, whilst calling me more homophobic names. I could see that some people in the pub were quite happy I was being hit and knew some people felt I deserved it, as I was a “poof”. I fought back a bit in self-defence but was eventually rescued by one of friends who took off her high heel shoe and proceeded to beat the homophobe with it. Now I don’t believe in using violence, but I was grateful for the assistance. I then found myself further shocked once things had calmed down. The landlord of the pub did not say or do anything to the homophobe, but approached me to ask that I “keep my mouth shut”. That really angered me and I have not been in that pub since.
The second instance of homophobia I have experienced actually started in that same pub. I was with a group of girlfriends who after one too many Jagerbombs decided that it would be a good idea to begin ‘lezzing off’ with each other. It got many of the heterosexual males in the pub interested, with many of them letching over my friends. I was then approached by a straight man who suggested we start snogging to show the girls how it’s done. I agreed to that and we began kissing. After a minute we were interrupted by a man that was shouting obscenities and threatening to hit me. I ignored the man and he was asked to leave the pub. I thought nothing of it. What happened next was quite shocking.
I used to frequent another bar in my town and went in there a week after the kissing incident. I didn’t know that the man who had shouted at me the week previously was the manager of that bar. He approached me and said that I was barred. The reason for being barred is I was a “f***ing disgusting queer”. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I left the bar and took to Facebook to rant about it.
The next day I received a public apology over Facebook from the owner, who offered me a free drink to say sorry. I was still quite angry as barring someone from a pub due to their sexuality is a crime. I was encouraged to report it to the police but felt they would not take me seriously. So I let it go, accepted the apology and sometime later went back to the bar. Upon my return, I was greeted with further hostility, this time from the DJ and his assistant. It was karaoke night and I wanted to sing, so I took a request slip to the DJ. On doing so I was informed by the DJ’s assistant that my lot are not allowed to sing. By my lot, I guess he meant homosexual (despite being a gay man himself, but one of those gays that hates other gays because he really hates himself). I was not happy about that, to say the least, so I tried to give my request slip to the DJ himself. His response to me was that he knew what I was (that could mean anything, but again I assume he meant a homosexual) and that I had better leave the bar or he’d get security to remove me. Normally I would get angry and shout, but I decided to walk away and leave the pub. My friends tried to reason with the DJ to no avail. I decided that I simply wouldn’t go in the bar again if it’s run by homophobes.
Thankfully the bar has now closed down and reopened as something else, but I do regret not reporting what was a crime. And that brings me back to the point of this piece. There may have been a reduction in the reporting of homophobic crimes, but I do not believe that means a reduction in the crime itself. I didn’t report the crime because I felt the Police wouldn’t take it seriously and nothing would result from it. I could have also reported being attacked in the pub, but again I felt I would not be taken seriously. I imagine the majority of the pub would have said I deserved it and had been too gobby. But the reality is that I was a victim of homophobic crime in both those instances. Over the years I have also had bricks thrown at me and had a plank of wood hit round my head just for being gay. I actually reported one of those crimes and the Police didn’t do anything, despite me telling them exactly who had done it. That shaped my thoughts in the future and I’m sure those of others that have experienced homophobic crime.
On a final note I will say that no matter what your thoughts are regarding the Police taking homophobic crime seriously, you must report it. It’s important that every single one of us report every single homophobic crime. If we don’t then nothing will change, but by taking action we can change things.
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Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you'd like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.