Sunday 17 May 2020

#IDAHOBIT 2020: Breaking the silence

A first attack
For the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia #IDAHOBIT celebrated every May the 17th, I was between thoughts about what to write. [Wikipedia]
In my many encounters with homophobia, I remember two specific events in the early 1990s, I had met this lovely guy at Bang! disco and we decided to go back to my place. We got the bus from the London West End and alighted at a bus stop some 300 metres from my apartment around 2:00 AM.
As we walked back to my place, two men called after us, we ignored them, then they began to shout and hurl abuse at us, we knew we were in danger and so took flight, but they were already upon us, tackled us and relieved us of our possessions. We came to no harm and soon after getting home we called the police who visited but offered no support, it was 1991. Shaken we were, we lived, and beyond that had a 4-month relationship before we broke up.
A fearful existence
A few years after, I was having a walk in Finsbury Park, it is was quiet and calm, two guys approached me; I saw the glint of a knife blade as he motioned towards me. ‘Give me your wallet,’ he said, ‘And we’ll let you go.’ There was no hesitation, I emptied my pockets, and they left over a bridge into a labyrinth of alleyways. By the time, I found a beefcake to tell of my ordeal, they had long gone.
These were times when a lot of what was called ‘Queer bashing’ happened around London, I was fortunate not to suffer any injuries in my encounters, times I have had to run for dear life because a group of men with the intent to inflict grievous bodily harm set out to find gays and beat them up, even kill them.
My local librarian, who resourcefully and progressively stocked our library with LGBTQ+ literature, Christopher Dunn, lost his life at the hands of a serial killer who targeted gays. Hardly two weeks before, on holiday with my partner in a Brighton Bed & Breakfast, he was a fellow guest. On noticing him one evening, we wondered about why anyone would wear such tight Lycra shorts, we were just being sententious.
Breaking the silence
The theme for IDAHOBIT 2020 is Breaking The Silence; I would have preferred to talk more about other LGBTQ+ people in places, circumstances, and environments unlike mine today, where I have the freedom to express myself, a long way from the experiences of the 1990s. I can visit South Africa to rendezvous with my partner Brian, and not be ashamed to demand that we have a double bed rather than twin beds or separate rooms.
This is the first time I have written about my queer-bashing experience, yet, I must appreciate how long we have travelled from those times, acknowledging there is still more to do here and abroad.
For the past 5 IDAHOBIT anniversaries, I have donned the colour of the day, purple, and today, I went for a walk before taking a celebratory picture at Whitworth Park. [May17]
I commend this day to all, for the freedom to live, to express, to celebrate, to our allies, to the voices that are yet to be heard, the lives that are hidden from fulfilment, to the victims, to the powerless, to those who think they are alone, and to the souls sadly departed. We will rise.

IDAHOBIT 2020 at Whitworth Park today

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