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New submission from Jade
Last night on the 453 bus to Deptford at about 11.30pm, two teenage girls got onto the crowded bus, obviously very drunk, an being very loud and rowdy. They were shouting offensive remarks to several other passengers as they made their way down the top deck to the back seat.
On the back seat was an old man, reading his paper. On the seats just in front of this was me on one side, and on the other side three young boys, sitting squashed together on a double seat. The girls sat down next to the old man, behind the boys and immediately started to harass the boys verbally and physically. One started to pull at a boys hair and exclaimed that long hair is for girls not boys. The girls shouted that the boys look gay. They used insults such as “bummer” “dirty gay white boy” “you take it up the batty” and other crude remarks, whilst pulling the boys clothes and trying to provoke a response. The boys got up from their seats and moved to the front of the bus to go down the stairs and get off. The girls followed them and continued to harass and provoke them. When one of the boys answered back a girl started to hit him with an umbrella. Eventually the boys made it down the stairs, followed by the girls, and judging by the noises, got beaten pretty badly downstairs and outside of the bus.
Now, here’s the really messed up part. When these drunk offensive young women started to harass the passengers, I expected that passengers would start to get vocal. They did, but not in the way that I expected.
The old man at the back of the bus fist-bumped one of the girls after she made a comment that “gay boys should die”. And several other passengers started shouting similar homophobic comments, and when the fight moved downstairs, several passengers followed, one excitedly saying to another “I’m gonna go beat those dirty gays”.
When the bus finally started moving again one middle aged man announced “If I was president – number one thing – kill all the gays!” And the majority of the top deck cheered him.
I got off at the next stop, called my partner to explain what happened, and ran home, horrified at the realization that I’m living in such a homophobic community. I felt so useless, the disapproving looks I’d given the girls and the supportive looks I’d given the boys had done nothing, and when I’d realized I was alone in my support I felt helpless. I didn’t know how to help without endangering myself. A busload of people had just made it clear that they felt comfortable with seeing non-homophobic people beaten in front of them.
Has anyone been in a similar situation and found a way to help? I was so scared and shocked I couldn’t think..
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