Romane Hole, an unemployed bouncer, and Nathan Evans, a nightclub promoter, are two good friends who signed up for the British game show Coach Trip, which has some 14 contestants board a bus that runs around Europe with cast members being voted off here and there. Viewers watching the program saw a cute gay couple who made it all the way to the end of the series. But as Coach Trip has aired on TV, Hole and Evans, now back to their regular lives, say they’ve been the victims of homophobic physical and verbal attacks. Which is surprising to them, since they’re both straight.
Not that the show’s producers wanted anyone to think that.
“We thought it would be a laugh if we held hands as we got on to the coach at the beginning of filming for the first episode,” Mr Hole said. “There were a few good-looking girls on the bus, and we thought if we pretended to be a gay couple, it might make them laugh.”
But the joke turned sour when the scene aired on TV screens earlier this month. “We had no idea how gay we were going to look by holding hands,” Mr Evans added. “Then all the way through the series, the programmes seem to have been edited to make us look as if we are a homosexual couple, rather than a pair of straight friends.”
(One scene that might’ve had viewers convinced they’re gay: Feeding each other pastry cream. Except as one web commenter notes: “I watched this programme and they were NOT portrayed as gay. They came across as obnoxious idiots. They thought they could say what they liked to the rest of the people on the coach and completely embarrassed the rest of the coach party with their behaviour towards the locals of the places they visited.” We haven’t seen the show, so what do we know?)
And if the prejudiced members of the viewing public think you’re gay, then they’re going to shower you with free hate.
“Ever since that first episode appeared on the television, we have suffered name-calling and constant verbal abuse in the streets – mostly from gangs of teenagers, who seem to think it’s funny to call us gay,” Mr Hole said. “But at its worst, the abuse has included physical attacks. I had a bottle thrown at me as I was walking down Park Street last week, while the attackers shouted homophobic abuse at me.”
On the up side?
“The other side of the coin, is that we have also become sort of gay icons,” Mr Hole said. “I’ve been inundated by homosexual men who have contacted me via Facebook, to ask for casual sex and to make other indecent proposals.”
Watch a clip of these two here.