Words: Alastair James; pictures: provided
A man who was recently the victim of a suspected homophobic attack has set up a support group for people who have gone through similar experiences.
Andrew James, from Doncaster, was out with his boyfriend and friends in the town on Saturday 11 September when he was attacked by a man in a takeaway shop who claimed Andrew deserved it because he was gay.
Andrew was left with a swollen lip, which he says has gone down now, but he wanted to do something to support other victims and their friends.
“They’re not alone”
Andrew tells Attitude he and his friends had gone on a night out to let off some steam. It had been a good night, he says, which finished at a takeaway shop.
“I was chatting to a lady next to me while waiting for the food and this lad was rudely trying to get involved in our conversation. So, I politely asked him to leave us alone. The next minute he smacked me in the mouth and said: ‘You deserved that you gay b*****d!’.”
His partner then dragged Andrew out of the shop and helped get him cleaned up before calling the police, who arrested the man. Andrew says the man was “too out of it” to be questioned.
Andrew was told by police that the man, who was later released under investigation, admitted to assault but not that it was homophobically motivated, which didn’t surprise Andrew.
“I said [to the police]: “No-one’s going to admit to that are they? Because of the potential impact on their job”. But the police were very supportive. “They responded very, very quickly. The man was arrested immediately, and they dealt with the situation very rapidly.”
Andrew James and his partner (Photo: provided)
After posting about the incident on social media, Andrew’s partner set up the ‘LGBT+ Support Group’ on Facebook, to bring victims and their close ones together. “A lot of people have come forward to say they’ve known people in these situations and so have a lot of people who’ve been in these situations themselves.
“It’s about making people feel safe expressing their views and feel that there is a good supportive group out there and that they’re not alone. It’s to provide support to everyone and to raise more awareness that there’s more of this going on than people may be aware of and that it’s not okay.”
Currently, the group stands at 553 strong, but Andrew is hoping it will continue to grow.
Asked if the incident has changed how he feels about going out and about Andrew says it hasn’t. “It’s not going to stop me from living my life and I’m going to keep on doing what I’m doing. I am who I am and I’m not going to be changed by ignorance. Take it or leave it.”
Attitude has contacted South Yorkshire Police for comment.
The Attitude October issue is out now.