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Kentish gay teen couple speak out about homophobic abuse

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  1. This is what happens when institutions in society nurture and encourage homophobic behaviour rather than condemn it. The church, some parts of the media, some parts of the government etc etc are helping to make this happen and perpetuate it.

    Social change takes time, that much is true. But the last 18 months or so are almost certainly going to show a rise in reported hate crimes – and then consider that, like these guys, most of us don’t even bother reporting it.

    If bigots see themselves being given permission by those in positions of power and influence, they will not stop.

  2. I applaud them both for their courage but the small town mentality is clearly showing its ugly head!

    Let’s hope that the peaceful protest remains that way too, good luck to you all at the weekend.

    1. I grew up in south london and can guarantee you ,the same homophobic mentality exists in our large cities.

      1. I currently live in South London and while I have experienced some homophobic mentality, I have found it to be worse when I leave London and visit my family in other parts of the UK

        1. I’m glad you are having a much easier time , but my experience involved having to leave school due to homophobia from students and staff, being hospitalised after an assault for holding hands, not to mention daily abuse. I have found my experience outside of london much more positive. I guess it is a subjective test.

  3. Is terrible that in this day and age, that homophobia is still rife in many of our towns and communities. There is no place for homophobia in our society, the source of homophobia should be tackled and dealt with, so that people can not be discriminated for walking down the street holding hands with the person they love.

    1. I agree with you Charlie, but I think that the problem is that in many cases the Police never seem to follow up on cases of verbal homophobia unless it can be proved. On the other side, were this to happen to a (and I hate to use this as an example but feel I have to) person of an ethnic minority then the police would be all over it like a rash. Homophobia still appears not to be a big priority to the police

      1. Craig Denney 14 Aug 2012, 5:48pm

        What about the CCTV in Tonbridge High Street or isn’t Inspector John Phillips intrested in looking at that then?

        1. Sorry to be pedantic, but unless the CCTV has audio (most do not) then it would be of little use evidentially for verbal abuse.

          There are measures the police could take though inclduing a covert operation.

  4. People who are living in more enlightened areas, cocooned, in some cases by affluence, away from small town, hick predjudice and who say that they are happy with civil partnerships also indirectly encourage this abuse.

    If this guy had been a teenage benefit dwelling girl with four kids by different fathers no one would bat an eyelid.

    1. I’ve also heard gay people talk about how the church is persecuted more than us, and that gay people talk very badly about the church and it’s unfair. I find this astonishing. Also, the amount of LGBT people that bury their heads in the sand, or try to curry favour with the heterosexual community shocks me. ‘Oh, things are better and it’s not an issue for me. I’ve never experienced homophobia’ – the biggest and most commonly told lie that comes from LGBT people.

      1. Yes some gay people are pathetic, i had a conversation with a gay guy at the weekend in soho , telling me how grateful we must be now , how far we have come and that he does not experience homophobia because he blends in and is straight acting in his mind anyhow , and when i mentioned about the equal marraige/civil rights campaign , his response was how we already have gay marraige in the UK. Then as the idiot walked down to trafalgar sq.but was been giggled and laughed at in a nudge nudge wink way because of his mincing. Why are so many gay men in denial to acknowledge we are 2nd class citizens in this country?

    2. well ray not quite, such a girl would have to put up with quite a bit of name calling herself and this can be as bad

    3. Spanner1960 14 Aug 2012, 12:52pm

      Actually, I doubt that. This is Tonbridge, so they frown on anything that is not seen as affluent middle class.

      1. Doesn’t matter where it is… even Guildford in Surrey has its share of anti-LGBT people… so to with Horsham, Haywards Heath and East Grinstead, all in West Sussex…

    4. panto joke biggins and david starkey “are happy with civil partnerships” . With gay people like this filth in media , who needs enemies.

      1. Biggins and Starkey are not likely to even enter into one. Well perhaps only with each other and they would be well suited!

  5. It’s the thick neanderthals described who have something wrong with them if anyone does. Never mind the fact that homosexuality has been accepted by scientists as normal for 50 years…these “people” want to pick on minorities in order to feel better about their own miserable existences.

    I agree that the couple concerned are very brave. I know it’s easier said than done but if every gay couple were as brave then the neanderthals wouldn’t be able to pick on us all. Although they’d probably try. Sad, sad b**tards. Don’t they realise that their schoolyard jibes say so much more about them than their targets? I very much hope that such attitudes are in decline.

  6. I always hated it when I got somewhere down the street and got called names. In later times I got used to it and just ignored it but when I was younger it hurt a lot. I don´t go allong the street and call a hetero couple some stupid names. I find these two young men very brave to not to hide what they are.

  7. i cringe at all public displays of affection, straight or gay

    1. Spanner1960 14 Aug 2012, 12:53pm

      I have to say, I agree. Holding hands isn’t any big deal, but I find all this lovey-dovery pecking and snogging pretty pukeworthy. Go get a room.

      1. If there were just holding hands, I don’t see the deal. Sometimes I want to hold my fella’s hand in public – but even in Manchester I don’t feel comfortable doing it. Wish I was as brave as these two.

        The more that gay people do it, the more normal it will become. Maybe I should man up!

        1. Spanner1960 14 Aug 2012, 6:44pm

          The point is, as Tommy says, many people find shows of affection in public offensive, irrespective of the sex/sexuality.
          It’s never been “normal” in my eyes.

          1. Holding hands is normal. Not holding hands is normal.

            Opposing holding hands is not normal.

    2. Regardless of whether you like PDA or not, you do NOT have the right to threaten somebody with physical harm, or pray they die a painful death of AIDS. That is pure bigotry, simple as that. You need to re-establish your priorities.

    3. Holding hands is not quite a PDA!

  8. If they walked down the street WITHOUT holding hands-no one would bat an eyelid right? So-my question is this-and I dont really know the answer- By the simple act of holding hands in public-are they asking for public abuse- and if so- why would just the act of ‘hand holding’ subject people to abuse?
    Incidentally- to the guy who said he just “ignored’ the name calling-all I can say is that my partner and myself did that- and then they started throwing things like eggs and coins at us-so it really doesn’t solve the problem- and by the way-we WERE NOT holding hands-its just local youths happened to know we were the only two men in the village that lived together.

    1. No, I don’t think that they are asking for abuse just for simply holding hands. People normally associate hand holding as a couple thing to do so by way of doing so people were assuming the guys sexuality.

      They should be able to hold hands if they so wish to do so without fear of any kind of violent or verbal act from the cave dwelling idiots who live in the same town.

  9. Mumbo Jumbo 14 Aug 2012, 12:52pm

    You can see the original article and add comments here:

  10. Homophobia is very much alive in the Uk -yes life as improved for us but there is a great deal to be done still.

    1. Sadly even when same-sex marriage is introduced Homophobia will still be rife in the UK. We will be equal in every sense in the eyes of the law but not in the eyes of many. It will take many generations to come and go before we see a huge change in attitudes. I doubt I will see a homophobic free UK during my lifetime and I am only 40.

  11. Robert in S. Kensington 14 Aug 2012, 1:21pm

    The origins of homophobia are deeply rooted in the abrahamic cults. Just think about the message Cardinal O’Brien sent to homophobes calling equal marriage “grotesque”. They are the ones who should be held responsible first and foremost. The so called ‘christian’ roman cult has had almost two millenia denigrating gay people taking their cue from five millenia of orthodox judaism displayed in the old testament. In turn, Islam joined the club during the 7th century and later on in the 16th century, the CoE carried on the roman cult’s legacy. To this day, none have offered any apology, never reached out in an act of reconciliation for the enormous harm they’ve inflicted on gay people throughout the ages. Until that’s addressed, homophobia will run rampant and rough-shod over our lives and existence.

    1. Robert, you may be interested to know that the United Church of Canada has just elected their first gay Moderator, Gary Paterson. There is some division in the denomination regarding recognition of LGBT and the church does conduct marriage ceremonies for gay couples. If I were stil living in Canada and was wanting to be part of a formal church I would reinstate my membership in the United Church. Sadly in the UK there is only the Quaker denomination who recognize and affirm LGBT couples. I too believe the church-at-large owes a huge apology for their homophobia. Here’s a link you might like to look at….

  12. I am amazed any gay guys or girls would hold hands outside of cities. I live on the outskirts of London and wouldn’t hold my girlfriend’s hand walking down my High Street.

    All power to them for being brave enough to try.

    1. I agree my partner and I live together and everyone one in our street would know we are a couple but living in a south Wales town I too would be uneasy about holding hands in public – big respect to the young couple in the article you are top men indeed and best of luck to you both

    2. I lived in central london and lost count the amount of times i was abused or attacked for holding hands with my falla, the same can happen in the big “tolerant” city as in anywhere else.

      1. I live in Elephant & Castle and have quite often held my husbands hand when out. We have been lucky and I am all too aware of what kind of things could happen

        1. I see quite a few same-sex couples in London. I feel more relaxed there.

    3. I hold my wife’s hand everywhere, in london/manchester/liverpool and little towns. Only receive abuse occasionally and always from groups of men/boys. Older people tut and some people stare. We just laugh at those types of people.

      I wouldn’t hold hands in a strange place at night though where there may be drunk people around. If we went on a night out, unless we’re in a gay area or with a large group, I wouldn’t want to take any risks.

      I think a lot of it is to do with confidence, if you look nervous or uncomfortable people pick up on it, it’s how muggers choose their victims etc.

      Sometimes people are just a$$holes though and you can’t avoid them.

    4. Spanner1960 14 Aug 2012, 6:46pm

      I see plenty of girls that hold hands or walk about arm in arm – that’s just what many girls do! You don’t have to be lesbian. Two fellas doing the same might raise the odd eyebrow or two though…

  13. Kent has been called the garden of England but all is not rosy in the garden. This is a sad and unhappy series of events that should not have taken place. I am proud of those young men who decided to speak up and do something about the anti-gay attitude in the area. Kent is an affluent region that, by the look of it, seems to have been largely overlooked when it comes to education about the LGBT Community. Affluency does not go hand in hand with good breeding or good behaviour. I feel that a major drive to educate the local population about the LGBT Community is vital and must be put into action immediately.

    1. I’d extend that to the whole population of the UK not just Kent. Homophobia like this can happen anywhere sadly.

      1. Whole heartedly agree

  14. Liam Ledwidge 14 Aug 2012, 2:54pm

    Its absolutely appalling in this day and age that such abuse is tolerated anywhere! Good luck to you boys and I hope you receive a lot of support.

  15. In my opinion religion is the number one cause behind homophobic violence and abuse.
    I would never walk hand in hand with any of my partners as there really are too many pathologically biased homophobes out there.
    Religion totally encourages this never mind that it pretends not to, and religion also provides homophobes with a false legitimacy.
    I think we need much more education about gay historical figures who have achieved in our schools as a mandatory part of the curriculum, religious sect schools will resist including positive reference gays in lessons so they really need to be phased right out and sidelined.

    1. Yes, religion – but also the parts of society that tolerate homophobia ‘on religious grounds’ and give it some kind of opt-out card from, well, decent behaviour. I dislike religious homophobes, pointing to their bible and saying they can’t help their ‘traditional views’/hate the sin, love the sinner – or whatever cr*p they’re coming out with that day, but what’s just as bad is society tacitly or overtly approving this idea. They wouldn’t do that with racism (Oh, I’m sorry, Sir, it’s your special religious book that says that people with a different skin colour are evil – OK, go right ahead”) yet they allow it with homophobia.

      1. I think it’s a kind of unthinking, automatic deference to religion and to anyone who claims to be religious, it is really quite sickening.
        Also it’s about being poorly and badly informed. Tedious though it is to do, those who have never taken the time to investigate scripture and what it really says and means are not well placed to refute anti-gay comments made by homophobes claiming legitimacy from the Bible.

        1. Very true, Pavlos. The poorly-informed have to accept the homophobic version they’re being given, and, even if they *think* the person is wrong, they don’t feel confident to pass comment on the homophobe’s religion.

          “Deference” is the right word. It seems that things that would be unacceptable in secular society are permitted if they have the label of ‘religious belief’. I don’t understand why that is.

  16. Homophobia is everywhere even in London. A friend of mine walking with his friends Chiwawa was called a faggot. There were no police around at the time or he would have reported it. Collectively, we must report all name calling – the words poof and poofter are quite common amongst children. Faith schools are a disaster and homophobia is commonplace. The only answer is education which must start at primary school.

  17. Zac the Flac 14 Aug 2012, 3:59pm

    Fact is most people are truly revolted by it.Still homosexuals will continue to ram it down peoples throats.Most queers are either attention seekers or show offs & feel the need to prance & parade.Keep on prancing & parading & social norms will never change.

    1. The “ram it down people’s throats” was a dead giveaway. 1/10, poor effort.

    2. What a tosser. Gay people are almost totally invisible most of the time in my experience. You’re obviously delusional or secretly desperate to have something “rammed down your throat”.

      Probably why you’re trolling around here…

    3. Nothing like a bit of attention seeking, which is what you are doing here.


    4. So you hate people who are homosexual, Zac.

      Tell us all the other kinds of people you hate.

    5. Completely Agree.

  18. Puppy love is so adorable how could anyone turn their noses up at these two? The picture of the two of them just standing near one another is uplifting.

  19. Peter & Michael 14 Aug 2012, 4:24pm

    This happened to us in Stratford-upon-Avon and was posted on this site, unfortunately, everyone is stereotyped to be hetrosexual from birth, one has only to watch advertising on the commercial tv channels to see this. A woman is nurtured to wear very short shorts and wear lipstick and make-up to attract the male, if a man was to do the same he would be laughed at.

    1. That’s because that’s what life has been for the past hundreds of years. Short shorts, lipstick and makeup are designed FOR women and are thus promoted for women. A man would be laughed at. Much like a woman would be for having a mustache, or wearing a jockstrap.

      1. This is a bigoted remark. Okay, at least ‘semi-bigoted’ ! You say short shorts are for women. Well, don’t you know that in the 60’s, 70’s and most part of 80’s, short shorts were the norm for male NBA players ?!

        Besides, even if 99 percent of short shorts wearers are females, the 1 percent-making males who wear them DON’T DESERVE to be laughed at !

  20. Time ago something heppened in Italy, a homophobic attack outside a gay club in Rome’s gay village and… A lot of critics against “the narrow minded southern European Italians” in this site, that I really felt offended. Well… I insist saying that in UK, in Germany and even in Scandinavian countries there is a lot of homophoby. Everywhere in the world is like that. Of course there are some places in wich LGBT can live more free, like San Francisco or Fort Lauderdale/Key West or downtown New York City, but homophoby is a “common language” in today world. Please, next time, I hope not to find any racist comments towards Italians in general in the future, because homophoby and hate crimes are very, very common in UK too, if not even worst than Italy…

    1. I understand what you’re saying, Italian75, and I understand why you felt hurt when people commented on homophobia in Italy . . . but Italy IS streets behind the UK with regard to progress in this area. Like it or not, the fact is that homophobia in Italy and Greece is far worse than it is here in the UK.

      We have to eliminate it everywhere. And there are so many ways to work at doing this. One of them is to insist on being taken seriously. Too many gay men, for example, allow themselves to play stereotypes in the public eye and be laughed at. They’re used for a laugh, they aren’t respected, and they do us very little good.

      I’ve known white British heterosexual bigots say, “Oh, well, they may be queers, but they can be good for a laugh, you know!”

      Are you reading this Graham Norton, Alan Carr, and others?

  21. First of all my hat goes off to these two for handling this they way they do. My boyfriend and I were leaving a movie last week and a car parked beside us with two 20 y/o or so guys. The driver got out and opened the other guys door and they walked to the theater, about a half a block holding hands. This was so sweet and brave considering this was in Ft. Worth Texas. These two guys were fairly small stature so I told my boyfriend we would sit here until they made it in the theater in case some bigot tried to hurt them. It was amazing to see their strength in such a homophobic area.

  22. in other news the popes catholic.

    This article is preaching to the converted, we already know.

  23. Doubt this is the case… daily abuse. But of an overreacting. Tonbridge isn’t as bad as this makes it out to be. Attention seekers.

  24. This is one of the reasons I’m glad we moved to Australia. In two and a half years of living as an open couple in Adelaide, we’ve not been harrassed or abused or threatened even once. Living in Bristol for two years, it was a regular part of our lives when we did anything as threatening as going shopping hand in hand.

    What made it worse when that when we told straight family and friends, we were treated as if we were lying or exaggerating and it couldn’t possibly happen. After all, we had civil partnerships, homophobia was clearly dead and gone and we had to be inventing it!

    I’m glad to be living somewhere safer now, but the whole thing still makes me sad.

    1. I’m delighted you’re living happily, Lily, in your area of Adelaide, but you would not fare so well in other parts of Adelaide or many areas of other Australian cities. And I suspect you would not stay long in any small Australian town and that you would avoid Queensland!

    2. Really? Australia is hardly a bastion of tolerance.

  25. Fr. Mike Donaghy 15 Aug 2012, 2:36am

    I’m so sorry guys that you get the same hateful responses that I got as a Gay
    teenager back in the 1970s.

    Social change is so slow but the situation is gradually changing for the better.

    If I can help in any way please let me know and I will help …. I am trying to do anything I can to help.

    I work as a Catholic priest these days but I fight for Gay Rights every day.
    I don’t always get anywhere near what I want to do – but I do what I can to help!

    Love, Mike x

  26. How wonderful that young people these days see themselves and their relationship as a “normal relationship, [so] why would I want to hide it?”. Good for you! From my generation (60) this is so courageous. All power boys (men)!

  27. Poor babies. Hope they are ok. Two lovely young chaps.

  28. Tonbridge and Royal Tonbridge Wells, large towns close to each other, are much the same in terms of being “all white”, very English, and homophobic.

    My partner and I checked both towns out some years ago as a place to live but a visit to the local Waterstones in Tonbridge put us right. No gay section WHATSOEVER. I asked an assistant to call the supervisor. Showing amazement, I asked the supervisor why there was no gay and lesbian section.

    My partner and I then observed the ghostly white look of incomprehension and disdain that they two assistants and supervisor gave us.

    That was enough.

    The London 2012 Olympic Ceremony set out to give the whole world the notion that Great Britain is a wonderfully inclusive place. What an absolute lie.

    Even in London gays and lesbians dare not walk hand in hand unless they’re on Old Compton Street itself.

    1. Peter & Michael 15 Aug 2012, 12:56pm

      We found the olympics very hetrosexual showing to the world that it was not ok to be gay.

    2. Because there wasn’t a section in the local waterstones… really. Wow.
      There also isn’t a section for Cross Dressers, or people who like Stamp Collecting, or Nudism. A lack of a section doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s purposeful. It’s most likely due to a lack of demand. If you judge a place by the sections present, or no present, in a CHAIN bookstore then seriously you need to reassess your priorities.

      1. Since when has Waterstones ever featured a gay and lesbian section? I have visited quite a few of their shops, most frequently the one in the Bluewater Shopping Centre, and don’t ever recall seeing such a thing.

        As a gay man myself, we cannot demand equality and then cry foul when we’re not granted our own exclusive area of a chain bookshop.

        There are a few gay bookshops that fill a niche market. Waterstones caters for the majority of consumers, including myself.

        1. NB: Sorry Jacob, this reply was aimed at Eddy.

  29. “I don’t know why they find us offensive – it’s our life, not theirs. It makes us feel so hated.”


  30. I’m all for tackling homophobia – especially in sport, which I am doing myself.

    However, when you complain about receiving it, but reject the idea of doing anything about it… Zero respect. Sorry, but that’s my opinion.

    1. Well, the 2 people who’ve rated down my comment – bravo for agreeing that we should just complain and also do nothing to stop homophobia. Bright sparks, indeed :)

  31. Hello from Istanbul, Turkey. I have never held hands with a male lover in public but my usually dressing-up in a sort of effeminate (not a big fan of this word but never mind) manner has led to verbal abuse and nasty stares many times. And, I live in Istanbul, a liberal city in Turkey. I can imagine how bad the situation is for people similar to me but living in not-so-liberal cities/towns.

    And, I applaud the lovers in the article, for their courage.

  32. Pavlos Prince of Greece 20 Aug 2012, 7:01pm

    Together hand in hand? Absolutely impossible in my native Lithuania. Law of state change here every day, but law of street is forever. Or maybe not?

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