Gay man told to ‘know his place’ after homophobic attack left him with permanent scar

Ben Wearing injured face

A gay man who was a victim of a homophobic attack while on a night out says he’s been left with both physical – and mental – scars from the incident.

Ben Wearing, 30, was on a night out in Falmouth, Cornwall, with his friends in July when he was punched in the face after a man called him a “poof” during a confrontation outside a bar.

“I was shocked more than anything,” Ben tells PinkNews. “Part of me thought I shouldn’t have said anything but then I thought why should I stand there.

“I find it hard to believe we’re living in 2022 and still people aren’t aware that it does happen.”

He says the scar on his face is a “permanent reminder” of the incident, but is now determined to raise awareness of homophobia in the area.

Ben’s attack was also covered by Cornwall Live but after its article was published, Ben says he experienced anti-gay trolling online.

“I’ve seen a few nasties telling me to know my place and finding it funny,” he shared.

“Cornwall is such a small place and I think we’re so far behind with things. I was petrified to come out and didn’t come out until I was 22.”

‘We’re people. We’re not poofs’

The July incident took place at The Arwenack Club when Ben went outside for a cigarette, where he overheard an argument between a man and the club’s bouncers. 

He claims the man was calling the bouncers “poofs” because they wouldn’t let him back in the bar. Other bystanders attempted to tell the man the slur was offensive, but Ben says the man justified it “by saying his brother was a poof”.

Ben says he then asked the man not to say the word as he found it offensive, and when asked why he cared, replied saying: “I’m gay for one and it’s offensive calling people poofs.

“I said, ‘We’re people, we’re not poofs’. His mate then started squaring up to me and calling me a poof.”

When Ben was joined outside by his friends, they separated him from the man who said: “If you push me again I’ll f**king hit you.” At this point Ben and his friends decided to walk home.

But as they walked home, he says the man from the club “stormed” past him and stopped to talk to his friends.

“By the time I had caught up to them he had squared up to me again and asked if I was the poof at the end of town. 

“I responded to say yes and asked what’s the problem, which I don’t think he expected as he stormed off shouting abuse at me.”

‘I’m nervous going out now’

Ben says he and his friends carried on walking a little further before he was hit in the face from behind. 

“It caught me on my right eye and split my eye open. He was shouting something like ‘are you going to hit me poof’ and then ran off.”

He remembers the group who targeted him having Newcastle accents. 

Ben ended up going to hospital for his injury because he was experiencing double vision. He says he has now been left with a scar physically and mentally. 

“I’ve got a scar along the top of my eyebrow now and its like a permanent reminder that I’ve been attacked for being gay. I’m also nervous going out now.”

“People shouldn’t have to go out and pretend to be someone else because they’re afraid that they’re going to get hit.”

Ben feels the police showed no interest in finding his attacker, despite sending a comprehensive statement and emailing CCTV footage. 

A Devon and Cornwall Police spokesperson told PinkNews: “Police continue to investigate an allegation of a hate crime and an assault following an incident outside of the Arwenack Club in Falmouth just before midnight on Friday 15 July.

“The victim has raised a formal complaint with Devon and Cornwall Police in relation to certain aspects of the investigation, and therefore we are unable to comment further publicly, at this time.”

Anti-LGBTQ+ violence in the UK is rising at a record-breaking rate according to police figures. 

The queer community feel fearful due to the spiral of violence and the government’s apparent lack of interest in tackling it.