Ben Hunte became the BBC’s first LGBTQ correspondent last year. He regularly reports on sexuality, gender, and other LGBTQ issues. Sadly, however, this often makes him a target for homophobic online abuse.
Yesterday, the out 27-year-old said he received “hundreds of homophobic and racist messages” in the last week alone. Not only that, but online trolls somehow got ahold of his personal cell phone number and have now been harassing him on WhatsApp.
Hunte tweeted a screenshot of the hateful messages he received from one person in particular. In it, an anonymous messenger beleaguers him with questions about his sexual orientation.
“Can you briefly tell me about yourself, why you thought a man was fit for your sexual life?” the homophobe asks. “Really? Why do you choose to be gay? … Let’s get this settled.”
Received hundreds of homophobic & racist messages across my Insta & Twitter this week. Now my personal number has leaked & been abused too. It’s 2019… Things should be better! ???? pic.twitter.com/ajDlIgLb0W
— Ben Hunte (@BenInLDN) August 14, 2019
The messages came shortly after Hunte shared photos of him and his boyfriend celebrating at Brighton pride earlier in the month.
Brighton pride! ???? We‘re having such an awesome time! It feels like the whole city is out supporting LGBT lives ?? pic.twitter.com/NUXVq3UuJe
— Ben Hunte (@BenInLDN) August 4, 2019
It’s taken me until 27 years old to feel strong enough to show affection to another man in public… It’s been a journey, but I’m glad I’m here ?????? pic.twitter.com/LWk2J2yqLg
— Ben Hunte (@BenInLDN) August 11, 2019
But this sort of harassment is nothing new for Hunte.
During a Student Pride panel earlier this year, he talked about the negative treatment he receives for being both Black and gay.
“In all honesty I have never received so much abuse in my life,” he said. “The difficulty with that was I knew it was going to be bad, but I didn’t know it was going to be that bad.”
“What surprised me most was the lengths people would go to to find me. I had one email that said, ‘Since when did the BBC allow negroes to present the news?’”
After sharing the nasty messages this week, Hunte received an outpouring of support from followers.
I just want to say that there are HUNDREDS OF OF THOUSANDS of us who support you being a black queer professional committed to high quality reporting on LGBTI issues. The haters will have to deal with their own internalised homophobia &inability to control their shameful violence
— jessica horn (@stillSHErises) August 14, 2019
If straight people have to one thing it’s the audacity pic.twitter.com/8TQpmftf7N
— ?? (@MixedRaceScum) August 14, 2019
why do people feel the need to do this? like it’s not their business what your sexuality is and they also don’t need to go out of their way to send you messages that you clearly don’t deserve to be sent
— ????????? (@waywardpml) August 14, 2019
Very creepy. I am sorry to hear that the LGBT community still deals with this crap in 2019. Bigotry like that gets humanity nowhere.
— Jack ????? (@Conservative_JA) August 14, 2019
Utterly abhorrent. Thank you for being out there so truly Ben, it’s uncomfortable to be that lightning rod but know that your words have power and it keeps building ??
— Jon Holmes (@jonboy79) August 14, 2019
Scroll down for pics of Hunte and his boyfriend, Tom…
View this post on Instagram
Coming out is so much harder than many people realise ????… Thank you @danielhowell for talking to me about your journey. Genuinely one of the sweetest YouTubers I’ve ever met. Link in bio! ?? (A 10min version of the interview will be up here later this month) ???? #bbc #lgbt #gay #pride #danielhowell