UK

Gay man ‘shocked’ after vile homophobic tirade from bus driver for kissing another man

Patrick Kelleher January 29, 2022
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Connor Cunningham

Connor Cunningham. (Provided)

A gay man was left in shock when his bus driver allegedly told him he shouldn’t be kissing men in public because it might be “confusing” for children. 

Connor Cunningham, 28, said the incident occurred on Sunday 16 January after he and a male friend who he’s currently dating left Fire nightclub in Vauxhall, London, at around 8.30am. 

They walked towards the local bus station while holding hands and waited together until the number two bus to Marylebone arrived. Just before Connor got on the bus, he and his friend shared a kiss.

Connor was the last passenger left on the bus by the time it arrived at Marylebone station shortly after 9am, he said. When he went downstairs to disembark, the driver didn’t open the doors immediately. 

The driver started “shouting” while the doors remained closed, Connor alleged. He didn’t hear what she was saying at first and he asked her to repeat herself. 

The driver told Connor that she had seen him “kissing another man” at the bus station. “Don’t you think you will be confusing children?” she reportedly asked him.

Connor Cunningham was left reeling after ‘unexpected’ homophobic comments

“Obviously I was shocked,” Connor told PinkNews. “I didn’t really have much time to think, so I was just like: ‘Well I didn’t expect to have a homophobic bus driver.’ At that point, the doors opened and as I’m going out, I said, ‘Go f**k yourself,’ because I was very angry.

“In my mind I thought to myself, ‘God, what an ignorant person. You’re in the minority around here thinking this way.’ But at the same time I was thinking, OK, that was someone who’s working as a bus driver – this isn’t on.” 

The whole thing was “so unexpected,” Conor said. “I was in central London and I thought, ‘you know what, I’m going to kiss this lad goodbye’ – it’s just a normal thing for me, and no one really batted an eye.

I think the thing that would upset me is if that was to happen to someone that was more vulnerable.

“I never experienced this before. I’ve lived here for a year and a half – I made the move to London [from Kent] because, as a gay man, I didn’t really have much to do in a small town. I wanted that freedom.”

Connor Cunningham
Connor Cunningham. (Provided)

He continued: “I think the thing that would upset me is if that was to happen to someone that was more vulnerable. She could have done that to someone who, it could have been their first time that they’ve ever done anything like that in their life, and that could have turned into a much darker situation if she’d done that to someone in a more vulnerable position.”

Transport for London is investigating the alleged anti-gay bus driver incident

Shortly after the incident, Connor contacted the Metropolitan Police to file a complaint – however, he was told that the best way forward was to raise the issue directly with Transport for London (TfL). He was told that they would investigate and get back to him within a week. 

“A week went by and two days ago, I contacted them and said, ‘Look, I haven’t had contact within a week, what’s going on?’ And then the lad on the phone said, ‘OK, it’s still under investigation, you should hopefully hear something soon.’”

Later that evening, Connor received an email from TfL saying the bus driver had denied his allegations regarding the anti-gay abuse. 

In the meantime, Connor had approached a number of media outlets based in London. Shortly afterwards, TfL contacted him to say that he was told that the investigation had been closed in error and that work was ongoing to determine what had happened. 

Siwan Hayward, director of compliance, policing operations and security at Transport for London (TfL) said: “Everyone is welcome on our transport network, and we stand together against homophobia and hatred in all its forms. All passengers have the right to travel without fear of abuse and making public transport be safe and feel safe is an absolute priority for TfL.

“The bus operator’s investigation into this serious allegation remains ongoing and we have apologised to Mr Cunningham Bladon for a previous communication that wrongly implied the operator’s investigation was closed.” 

More: Homophobia, London, Transport for London

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