Personal Stories

Michael

An attractive man started talking to me on a night out and invited me to his hotel. I arranged to meet him in the club but he never showed up. When I went home the next day I found my bank card was missing from my wallet and also my iPhone had gone. £1,000 was taken from my account and when I reported it to the police I never thought it might be a homophobic crime.

The LGBT Liason Officer I spoke to was very helpful and sympathetic and then I spoke to G.A.L.O.P who were even more helpful.*

I probably won’t see the money again and they may never catch the man who robbed me but

the whole experience and the support I received has made me much more conscious about how I behave on a night out,

how much I drink and to be aware of my own personal safety.

It’s important to say that even if you think you may be judged for what you are doing and where you are, the police are only interested in the crime that has been committed against you.

I believe that what happened to me was homophobically motivated and that’s why I think it is important to report any incident you feel may be a homophobic incident as only then can the police be made aware of what is happening in a specific area and then try to do something about it. It certainly has made me more aware and on my guard in future.

 

*GALOP is London’s LGBT Community safety charity. Tel: 020 7704 2040. www.galop.org.uk

 

David

I'm not sure exactly when I realised I was gay. It's not as if you're an official homosexual, here's your certificate. Everyone's 'coming out' experiences are different.

My name is David, I am now 15 and I live in Withington. Being gay has been one of the most difficult experiences of my life so far. It was hard to come to terms with, something I have had to do completely by myself.

It has been a very lonely process; at times I’ve felt like everyone is against me. I’ve felt isolated, I sometimes don’t know how to deal with things. I tried to talk to my teacher about the bullying but she just didn’t want to know.

She said I should talk to my parents about it but they are both very religious, there was no way I could talkto them about it. It is an agonising feeling so alone, it’s no surprise I sometimes hurt myself.

Once at school this lad was bullying me, the usual stuff; faggot, queer, uphill-gardener, I was so stressed that the teacher didn’t do anything that I punched him. I ended up getting into trouble for that. I can’t wait until next year when I’ll be out of this place. I just can’t talk to anyone. I feel insecure and unprotected. I think if it was just talked about that would make it easier.

A lot of the homophobia is just ignorance, by both the teachers and the pupils. I just wish I could be ‘out’ and respected for who I am. Schools need to act to make sure that gay students get the respect they need to feel safe and secure.

Text reproduced by kind permission of LGYM (Lesbian and Gay Youth Manchester)
info@lgym.org.uk / 0161 273 7838 / www.lgym.org.uk

Brian

I teach as an openly gay man at a Manchester High School, in my first six weeks there I came out to a year 8 class where I had witnessed verbal and physical homophobia and embryonic queer bashing. Later some of the students knocked on my door with either a sweet or a piece of work or simply to ask if I was ok? None of them mentioned the outing. They didn't need to. A tiny step had been taken.

Three years later, I still challenge homophobia in the classroom and on the corridor, but now I am regularly asked by students in a sincere way about my experiences as an out gay man. I don't underestimate the potential difficulties I may meet from the parents of such children, but I am an optimist. A gay Jew born in the same year of Hitler's death has to be. Throughout my time at School I've had amazing support from the head and the Senior Management Team, in fact I made it a condition of my employment at the school that I taught as an open gay man.

Zoe

I teach at Trinity CofE High School, Manchester - an inner-city school with a mixed intake in terms of ability and ethnicity. Three yeats ago I decided to deliver a scheme of work on homophobic bullying to my then year 9 tutor group.

My decision to raise potentially ‘hazardous' topics for discussion with year nine pupils was based on two issues in my form at the time. One was a case of unpleasant bullying directed at two ‘quieter' boys and the other was the casual use of homophobic ‘slang' in everyday language. My own form was culturally mixed, including pupils from Nigerian, Caribbean and Muslim families and I knew that for some pupils, this would be a difficult area to explore. All parents were informed and happily, no pupils were withdrawn from the lessons.

The series of three lessons were extremely worthwhile and all pupils took part in a variety of activities which included brainstorming all the slang words they know for various sexual orientations and considering their effects when directed at people (the most worrying was ‘pedo' for homosexual) and discussions around current news/media stories e.g. homophobia in rap music, the ‘Todd' storyline in Coronation Street and homosexuality in the church.

Naturally there were extremes of opinion - some based on religious grounds and others on ‘macho' peer pressure. Some pupils were openminded about individual sexual orientation and felt strongly that it should not influence how we are judged by others and a few pupils felt unable to discuss these issues at all.

Despite these differences, pupils were regularly reassured that we were not discussing rights or wrongs and that there are a lot of external pressures which can give us prejudices. All pupils came to the final conclusion that despite our personal beliefs, homophobic bullying is just as unacceptable as any other form of bullying.

I didn't pretend to eradicate use of homophobic language but I do feel that by raising awareness of a serious issue, small but positive steps were made towards pupils becoming more tolerant and respectful of our differences and individuality.