Rocks thrown at Stonewall’s head of press in ‘homophobic attack’ after queer music festival

Stonewall’s media manager Jeff Ingold has spoken out after he was allegedly attacked with rocks in a ‘homophobic’ incident following queer music festival Mighty Hoopla  – saying the LGBT community is “still under attack.”

Ingold – who was in a group of friends, including Terrence Higgins Trust’s head of media Matt Horwood – said he was left shaken by the attack on Sunday night near Brockwell Park, London.

He explained the events to PinkNews.

“I was walking to the corner store with some friends and we passed a group of teenagers,” said Ingold.

“We had just come from a queer music festival, so we were coated in glitter and I had on my best hot pink crop top.

Brockwell Park (Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)

“The teenagers started following us, yelling homophobic slurs and began to throw rocks at us. Two of which hit me in the back of the head.”

He added: “I was shocked, hurt, enraged but most of all, I felt embarrassed. Not just because of what happened, but because I was with other people who witnessed it and were also being harassed.

“A wave of shame, humiliation and powerlessness swept over me. I wanted to run away, be alone and cry.”

Ingold said that the abuse didn’t stop there. After getting what they needed from the shop, the group walked to the opposite side of the road, so as to avoid the teenagers “in case they were still out.”

But, he explained, his group then fell victim to a group of men “who began hurling homophobic abuse at us, saying things like we should be killed.”

Ingold continued: “It’s really hard to put into words that it feels like when these things happen. To be attacked for simply trying to exist and be yourself. It’s demeaning and completely dehumanising.

“But I think what’s harder is to accept and expect that this kind of thing will happen at some point. It feels like an inevitable consequence of living in a society that continues to position heterosexuality as the norm. Violence is a fact of queer life.”

Ingold was with Terrence Higgins Trust’s head of media Matt Horwood (@matthewhorwood/Twitter)

He explained how homophobic incidents like this are a common occurrence in the lives of LGBT people.

“So, when incredibly well-meaning friends said to me after, ‘I can’t believe people like that still exist’ and ‘It’s 2018, don’t people know better?’, it almost adds to the shame.

“Admitting and talking about these kinds of incidents almost feels like a different kind of coming out. It’s a recognition of the homophobia that still runs rampant and threatens our safety.”

Ignored said he recognised his privilege as a “cisgender, white, able-bodied, middle class man” that “affords me a certain level of protection that is not shared amongst the wider LGBT community.”

Still, he added: “What happened last night is a painful reminder of the fact that even in central London in 2018, LGBT people are still not free to be themselves. And for anyone who might still be wondering, yes we still damn well need Pride.

“This hate and violence should also help bring our community together. I think sometimes we can be too complacent about the progress we’ve made and spend too much time tearing each other down.

“The LGBT community is so beautiful, diverse and strong. Everyday, I feel immensely proud to be a part of it. But we are still under attack.”

“If we could be a little kinder to one another, watch each other’s backs a little more, there’s nothing we can’t achieve – together.”
Matt Horwood told PinkNews that he had reported the incident to the Metropolitan Police, and that he has an appointment to see an officer later this week.

The Metropolitan Police has confirmed to PinkNews that it is meeting Horwood over the incident on Friday.

“Despite being aware of the anti-LGBT hate crime figures in London, and across the UK as a whole, it still absolutely hits you like a tonne of bricks when it happens to you,” he told PinkNews.

“Not because you necessarily think ‘I doubt that would ever happen to me’, but because it’s difficult to understand the impact that this sort of stuff – whether verbal or physical – can have on your sense of self.

“We’d spent the entire day surrounded by warm and loving LGBTQ folk and our awesome allies.

He continued: “Leaving that kind of space to have homophobic abuse – and rocks – thrown at us was a real shock to the system. It throws up all sorts of emotions: fear, sadness, shame, anger and anxiety.

“Many people experience homophobic, biphobic and transphobic abuse on a regular basis. Some people experience brutal physical attacks simply for being who they are.

Horwood added: “It really should remind all of us that it certainly is not always safe for us to be ourselves, and we need to rally round as allies to our own community to help protect them.

“And that absolutely extends to other kinds of hate crime and discrimination that are faced by people at the intersections of our community, whether that’s racism, ableism, faith-based discrimination, sexism or anything else.”

Mighty Hoopla responded to Horwood on Twitter, posting: “We’re so sorry to hear this Matt! We hope you’re all ok?!”