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08th Sep 2016

Gay man deals with homophobia with amazing dignity and eloquence

They way he handled it is remarkable

Nooruddean Choudry

He’s a better man than we are.

For many of us who have never had to experience such a situation, it is jarring to watch – shamefully so in fact. We hear about homophobia all the time, but it doesn’t always register.

It’s a story in a paper, or cold statistical data. We may tut about it a bit, and perhaps comment upon how awful it is, but for those of us who aren’t gay, it’s from a perspective of blissful ignorance.

That’s why a first-hand account – or POV video – is brutally effective in shaking us out of our indifference. It is unnerving and unsettling that someone can be casually abused for just being.

Hanif Leylabi, a 29-year-old charity worker from London, was walking home after a meal with friends when he was subjected to horrible homophobic abuse. The aggressor was possibly drunk.

As Leylabi explains to Attitude, the exchange started with an offensive term directed towards him:

“He said ‘batty boy’. I challenged him, and when asked if I take it up the arse, I responded, ‘Yes, got a problem with that?'”

Leylabi started to record the incident, and instead of losing his cool or allowing the offensive remarks to go unanswered, he responded with admirable calm and eloquence.

Even when provoked by a horrid comparison of homosexuality to terrorism, Leylabi responded perfectly:

“Yeah but that kills people. I’m not killing anyone. I’m just doing stuff with someone else who wants to do it. It’s no skin off your nose is it? I’m not getting in your life, I’m not walking past you shouting abuse at you – but you did at me, because you’re giving yourself the right to.”

The footage is dark and grainy. You don’t actually see much. There’s no huge crescendo or dramatic moment as such. But in a way, that makes it more shameful. There’s a disgusting normality about it.

Again, speaking to Attitude, Leylabi explains:

“I wanted people to see that we’re not exaggerating. There are still people out there who have a problem with the fact that we exist.”

That objective is certainly achieved. It goes without saying that it shouldn’t happen in 2016, but we already knew that. What this short video does is give us all the very slightest idea of how how it must feel.