With Pride around the corner, Cpl will be sharing a series of stories from our BeProud@Cpl Group. Established in 2017, with the help of The Gay and Lesbian Equality Network, BeProud@Cpl aims to actively promote LGBTQ+ inclusion at work, and outside of work.
To start the series, which will share stories of both hope and support and struggles, BeProud Chair Stephen Molloy shares his experience of being a gay man and ways we can all be more supportive and inclusive of the LGBT community.
Stephen Molloy, Recruitment Consultant & Chair of BeProud@Cpl
I was reading a recent post titled “show me your scars” where people discussed accidents and operations, survival stories that were truly remarkable. It got me thinking about how many of us have scars that are not always obvious to the naked eye. How all of us in one way or another are survivors.
Let me share a personal experience. One I haven’t shared publicly before.
I lived in London for 7 years and through that time had an amazing experience. London for me, a young gay man from 90’s rural Ireland, was the New York of Europe, the energy and freedom that came with it was liberating and exhilarating.
My social and work life was one in which I was openly gay and accepted for it, without question.
I relocated to Dublin for work but kept close ties with my London life and visited regularly. My visits usually ended up with me trying to meet as many of my friends as possible in what limited time-frame, (anyone with experience of London knows that was mostly limited to zone 1 or zone 2 radius because, the “tube” on weekends!)
Evenings consisted mainly of dinner and drinks in Soho followed by what could loosely be described as dancing in a Soho club.
On this particular visit, I did just that, met with my friends, went for dinner and drinks and then went on to a well-known gay nightclub in Soho. After the club, my friend had ran to get the infamous night bus and I, in all my wisdom decided to go opposite the street and get a kebab (don’t judge me).
So, I placed my order and waited. The barman who was working in the club came in and we exchanged conversation, this is where it gets hazy. I think we had barely said, “hey”, before some random guy burst through the doorway screaming “bash the batty boys” (slang for gays) along with many other homophobic slurs and started throwing punches.
There were only two of us in there. One punch hit the barman and another punch landed on my jaw and I was out. Immediately knocked out. The rest I was told by the barman.
The person, having knocked me out continued to kick me in the head saying “kill the batty boys”, the barman was screaming at the door for people to help, the owners took no action (which I can understand as no one knew if he had a gun or knife). I was unconscious.
The next thing I know I’m sitting in front of a nurse who is asking me my name, I know I have one, it wouldn’t come. At that point, she said it’s OK just rest there and I saw another guy talking to her discussing what action to take, at least that’s what I gathered from the situation.
She sat with me and asked me more questions like where I’m from? did I know where I was? all information that I knew but words wouldn’t come to me. I have to say, she could not have been kinder and so genuinely caring. She sat with me and invited the other person she was talking to over.
They introduced themselves, it was the barman from the club and even then, I had no memory of meeting him before that moment. He had called an ambulance and explained to me what had happened. Within an hour everything started to come back, “Stephen”, I called the nurse, “Stephen” that’s my name.
Turns out I had swelling on the brain which led to temporary amnesia but thankfully I was in the mend. The next day I felt nervous and anxious but also very thankful as I know how it could have been so different.
I regret not reporting it to the police, but I just felt so overwhelmed and didn’t know what could be done. I’ve heard of people reporting and being told “well what did you do to bring them on you”, or the attacker claiming “they tried it on with me “. I just felt vulnerable and not strong enough to deal with the possibility of that at that moment in time.
In hindsight, of course, I would encourage anybody to make a report and make sure that these offences are noted and documented so that even if the person isn’t caught that there is awareness raised and seek support.
I wish I was stronger in that moment to do just that but I just wanted to get on with my life and forget it happened.
In an ideal world, the perpetrator would have been caught immediately or perhaps wouldn’t have felt that it was acceptable to attack someone who has done nothing but be different to them.
Standing up to Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia
Here is the real scary part, I’m not alone. Every time you see statistics of Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia know that it is the tip of the iceberg. There are many more and each one just as harrowing. Not all are physical, they can be at work or at home, from a stranger or even those close to us.
Yes, “we are here”, yes, “we are queer” but we should not have to live in fear.
I want to be clear; I’m sharing this not for sympathy but for solidarity. To say I’m gay and proud. To say I will still give love and be deserving of love in spite of such hate in the world.
The next time you see someone saying or doing something Homophobic, Biphobic or Transphobic, stand up, say something, support them and be the change. It’s in the little moments that big change happens.
I hope by sharing this it highlights that much support is still needed and appreciated by the LGBTQ+ community including allies.