- March 12, 2012
Look closely at my face if you see me and you might notice a tiny scar on my nose. It happened before Christmas and the memory of the incident is as painful as the scar. You see someone decided to hit me in the face and kick me in the knee.
I’m over it now, or it least I thought I was. Then last night on the bus home from an excellent evening at the Theatre Royal, I was witness to an incident.
We had boarded in North Street and at the next stop a man staggered on board, clearly a little worse for a few drinks. When he reached the foot of the stairs he lurched forward, neck stretched and cheeks flushed. “British!” he yelled at the two Asian guys in the row in front of us. Spittle flew as he screamed and his eyes bulged angrily. Then he lurched up the steps to the upper deck.
The two guys simply sat in silence, choosing to ignore his outburst, but I’m sure not excusing it. I too sat in silence and did so because I was afraid. I wanted to do something. I know I should have done something but at that point fear gripped me and I sat in silence and in shame.
Suddenly from upstairs we heard him again. “F****** queers!” He was out of sight but he was not out of mind.
“Fear gripped me and I sat in silence and in shame”
Still I sat in discomfort, knowing that I should be doing something, after all the first was race hate crime, now he was treating us to a fine display of homophobic hate crime, not that ‘fine’ seems an appropriate word for such behaviour.
A few others were clearly uncomfortable with what was going on. One young woman went upstairs to see what she could do, another informed the driver, but he didn’t stop. Finally we got off, but only when we were confident that the lout was not getting off too.
So I’m sorry. Sorry for not standing up for the two young guys; sorry for not going upstairs and challenging the homophobia; sorry for not leaping to my feet to support the women who did do something; sorry that, despite appropriate legislation to prosecute this kind of crime, I simply didn’t have the guts to do anything about it.
You can legislate all you like, but if people are too afraid to act then nothing will ever change.