“The amount of abuse we got was just shocking!"
A same-sex couple in Birmingham have said that the rise of homophobia in the city has left them fearing for their safety, revealing that they want to leave the city.
George Mattu and his partner Matthew Grocott have lived in Birmingham but say the constant homophobia has become too traumatising.
George, a fraud investigator from Coventry, said he has been subjected to homophobic abuse in Birmingham “for years”.
He said: “It’s become normal.
“On a night out I expect to get abused and at the minute in Birmingham, it’s only getting worse.
“As an ethnic Indian, it’s almost a double whammy. I get all the homophobic stuff but also get people calling me a p*** and being racist.
“One night I was out at a bar in Broad Street with some friends and my partner before lockdown.
“We left early and I was holding hands with my partner down Broad Street because it was very busy.
“The amount of abuse we got was just shocking! People were shouting ‘look at those gay boys, look at those f******’ and all sorts of horrible stuff.
“And that’s just a normal night out for a gay couple at a straight bar in Birmingham.”
This resulted in George deciding not to go out in Broad Street out of fear.
He explained that there were other places in Birmingham that gay men avoid out of fear of being harassed or attacked.
George continued: “The area around Martineau Place just isn’t safe at all.
“If you’re out and you want a kebab after a night out you always go to the shop by the Gay Village.
“If you go to one in the city centre, you just know there’s going to be trouble – there’ll be someone there who will spit on you, shout at you or just be really nasty.”
He told Birmingham Mail that the feeling of exclusion was “just normal” for members of the LGBTQ+ community.
“We’re used to all the abuse and attacks, just not on this scale.
“As a gay man you develop a sixth sense for danger, you always have your wits about you.”
“A couple of months back I was stopped from getting on a bus because a few lads who were calling me a ‘batty man’ blocked me from getting on.
“I said to my partner ‘we’re not getting the bus or public transport anymore’, it’s just not safe.”
Birmingham has seen a rise in homophobic attacks and George said they were an “embarrassment” to the city.
“Who wants to come to Birmingham from other cities like Manchester if our streets are unsafe and we can’t protect our own community?”
After being subjected to years of abuse, George feels there is no other option but to leave Birmingham for good.
“After the incident on Broad Street, I said to my partner that I just don’t feel safe here anymore, and this was months before any of these recent attacks started happening!
“It sounds bleak but I can’t see this changing anytime soon. The police and council can say what they like but I don’t think it will get any better.”
George and his partner are thinking about moving to Manchester.
“We’ve got friends in Manchester who are telling us to move – they don’t get any of this homophobic crap up there.
“If my partner agrees to it, we’d start looking for houses tomorrow.”
Although he has plans to move out of the area, he is determined to show defiance in the face of hatred.
“Nothing is going to change unless we’re visible.
“Even just being visible in a gay bar is in itself important – someone passing in a car who is in the closet could see me standing outside a gay bar having a drink and enjoying myself and think ‘wow, that could be me.
“I used to care a lot about what people thought about me, but now I don’t.
“I’ve got nothing to do with them and if they’ve got a problem with me being who I am, then that’s their fault.”