Stonewall’s media manager Jeff Ingold has spoken out after he was allegedly attacked with rocks in a ‘homophobic’ incident following queer music festival Mighty Hoopla – saying the LGBT community is “still under attack.”
Ingold – who was in a group of friends, including Terrence Higgins Trust’s head of media Matt Horwood – said he was left shaken by the attack on Sunday night near Brockwell Park, London.
“I was walking to the corner store with some friends and we passed a group of teenagers,” said Ingold.
“We had just come from a queer music festival, so we were coated in glitter and I had on my best hot pink crop top.
“The teenagers started following us, yelling homophobic slurs and began to throw rocks at us. Two of which hit me in the back of the head.”
He added: “I was shocked, hurt, enraged but most of all, I felt embarrassed. Not just because of what happened, but because I was with other people who witnessed it and were also being harassed.
“A wave of shame, humiliation and powerlessness swept over me. I wanted to run away, be alone and cry.”
Ingold said that the abuse didn’t stop there. After getting what they needed from the shop, the group walked to the opposite side of the road, so as to avoid the teenagers “in case they were still out.”
But, he explained, his group then fell victim to a group of men “who began hurling homophobic abuse at us, saying things like we should be killed.”
Ingold continued: “It’s really hard to put into words that it feels like when these things happen. To be attacked for simply trying to exist and be yourself. It’s demeaning and completely dehumanising.
“But I think what’s harder is to accept and expect that this kind of thing will happen at some point. It feels like an inevitable consequence of living in a society that continues to position heterosexuality as the norm. Violence is a fact of queer life.”
He explained how homophobic incidents like this are a common occurrence in the lives of LGBT people.\
So, when incredibly well-meaning friends said to me after, ‘I can’t believe people like that still exist’ and ‘It’s 2018, don’t people know better?’, it almost adds to the shame.
“Admitting and talking about these kinds of incidents almost feels like a different kind of coming out. It’s a recognition of the homophobia that still runs rampant and threatens our safety.”
Ignored said he recognised his privilege as a “cisgender, white, able-bodied, middle class man” that “affords me a certain level of protection that is not shared amongst the wider LGBT community.”
Still, he added: “What happened last night is a painful reminder of the fact that even in central London in 2018, LGBT people are still not free to be themselves. And for anyone who might still be wondering, yes we still damn well need Pride.
“This hate and violence should also help bring our community together. I think sometimes we can be too complacent about the progress we’ve made and spend too much time tearing each other down.
“The LGBT community is so beautiful, diverse and strong. Everyday, I feel immensely proud to be a part of it. But we are still under attack.”
“If we could be a little kinder to one another, watch each other’s backs a little more, there’s nothing we can’t achieve – together.”
Matt Horwood told PinkNews that he had reported the incident to the Metropolitan Police, and that he has an appointment to see an officer later this week.
The Metropolitan Police has confirmed to PinkNews that it is meeting Horwood over the incident on Friday.