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A 21-year-old man in the United Kingdom claims to have suffered a series of homophobic attacks in a single night, ultimately resulting in a violent confrontation with one of his attackers.
Kolade Ladipo visited a Liverpool carnival on August 30 alongside a group of friends. Early in the night, while dancing at a club, Ladipo says an unidentified man called him a homophobic slur and threw a drink at him.
Later that same night, Lapido and some friends had left the carnival to walk back to his residence. Two other men approached the pair on the street and asked if Lapido was gay.
“Yes I am,” Lapido said.
One of Lapido’s female friends then butted in. “What? What’s your problem? Why are you trying to make a scene? Why are you being rude? Why are you being disrespectful?” she asked the stranger.
“He immediately felt threatened and he immediately turned to violence,” Lapido recalls. “He started pushing her. And then his friend stood up and stood right in front of me and my friend. And I said, ‘no, because I let it slide. I was nice and cordial. I let it slide that he was being disrespectful. I let it slide, but now he wants to get aggressive. You’ve started this. You’ve started physically being really disrespectful. The whole time he’s pushing [my friend], he’s pushing me, and it’s getting violent. We’re being pushed by two grown men.”
At that point, the attacker punched Lapido in the face. The blow slashed open his lip, spraying blood all over Lapido and his friends.
“It was brutal,” recalls Gaia Ahuja, one of the friends with Lapido that night. “It was very, very violent. Words and shouting, yeah, we’re used to that, but it was just the level of how violent it was that was actually shocking. To the point that we’re walking away with blood on us.”
As the two assailants scurried off into the night, Lapido and his friends tried to regroup.
“After it all had died down and I was still at the scene and the man had moved away,” Lapido says, “I was screaming, ‘Just because I’m gay, literally just because I’m gay’. Everyone could hear me. They could see me covered in blood. They could see it. And it’s like, ‘I’m stood here covered in blood, screaming, ‘It’s because I’m gay’, and no one is coming to my aid. No one is saying anything. Everyone is just staring.”
Lapido and his friends retreated to their apartments. He also claims a man yelled a homophobic slur at him as he entered his home.
For Lapido, who did not report his attacks to the police, homophobic harassment will not deter him from living openly.
“If I’m walking unapologetically in a space by myself, or with people, and I’m living my life unapologetically, there’s nothing I can do if somebody wants to hit me. They are going to do that,” Lapido said. “I really don’t like when people say, ‘oh stay safe’. I’m not conscious of that. I feel safe walking on the street, but it’s not up to me to be safe. I don’t inflict pain on myself. I don’t hit myself. I don’t punch myself. That’s someone else causing and inflicting their pain on me. Therefore, being safe isn’t a conscious effort of me trying to be safe.”
“Why should I have to walk down the literal main road just to make sure that I’m visible? I shouldn’t have to not go down alleyways just to keep safe,” he concluded. “It’s not up to me to stay safe. It’s up to the people who are violently attacking people to stop that and keep people safe.”