No to Hate

Courtesy of Norwich Pride and Ann Nicholls

Liam and I attended the No to Hate candle-lit vigil in Norwich’s Chapelfield Gardens on Saturday evening which commemorated the savage homophobic murder of Ian Baynham in Trafalgar Square in September 2009. He was set upon by a feral trio of two drunken girls and a lashed-up boy, all minors at the time. They kicked him unconscious and stamped on him, screaming homophobic abuse as he lay defenceless on the ground. He died of his injuries 18 days later. This was not a case of the dispossessed hitting out at a callous society (not that this is a valid excuse). One of thugs had been to public school. Depressingly, queer bashing is nothing new and used to be quite de rigeur back in the day. We may live in more enlightened times, with the likes of the Daily Mail being slightly less incendiary and a Tory Government (of all things) struggling to introduce marriage equality against the bitter opposition of the bigots of the Right and the Cloth. But, the times are not enlightened enough to prevent vicious bullying in our schools and hate crime on our streets (total recorded crime may be down but reported hate crime is up).

The vigil was organised by Norwich Pride and coincided with events held up and down the realm and the mother of all tributes in Trafalgar Square with a cast of thousands. Our event was a little more modest with about 100 or so huddled around one side of the bandstand. Small is beautiful. The scene was lit by dozens of tea lights flickering away in hand-painted rainbow-coloured holders. There were a few speeches, a tuneful set by the Sing With Pride Choir and a two minute silence heralded by the striking of the City Hall clock. For me, the most tender moment was the last speaker, a young man call Kai (I hope I have spelt this correctly), who told us of his struggle as a man born in a woman’s body. I’m a cynical old queen these days but it brought a tear to my eye. Of course, that could just have been the pain from the hot wax dripping down my fingers.

Ian as I remember him

The remembrance was particularly poignant for me as I knew Ian Baynham. We had a brief fling way, way back in 1980. I still have a photograph of him in a dusty old album that’s miraculously survived being dragged across country and foreign field. Ian’s murder has come to represent the campaign against all hate crimes of whatever hue. Perhaps his untimely demise was not in vain. I can only hope for the best. I can’t help wondering, though, where were the trendy young things? It was a Saturday night and there was plenty of time to swing by before heading to the bars for a bit of boozing and cruising. It’s not that much to ask.

I checked out the coverage of the event in the local press. Norwich Evening News Online did a nice piece. However, I was rather incensed by the comment from Noah Vale who wrote:

“It’s a shame that the constabulary doesn’t have the same attitude to ALL reported crime – not just trendy “right-on” minority group PC crime. How about clearing the streets of aggressive beggars , unlicenced buskers with various animals , illegally riding dangerous cyclists & other assorted drunks & litter louts.”

I was moved to register and reply. I wrote:

“Is this for real? No one ever died from excessive litter. There’s nothing trendy or right-on about being kicked to death by a baying mob or blown to pieces by a nail bomb.”

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21 thoughts on “No to Hate

  1. Well said, Jack. The hate-mongers are still among us. Look at Nick Griffin’s standing up for the homophobic Welsh B&B couple. His party seems to be happily on the wane, but even splintered as they are the ultra-right-wing splinter groups represent an ugly threat to all that the GBLT movement has achieved in the last few decades.

    We must never forget that the Nazis started as a derided minority party in Weimar Germany. And Hitler targeted gays and gypsies and Communists before he focused his attention on Europe’s Jews.

    We need to be ever watchful. The gains of the past years could be reversed in an instant. Pendulums have a nasty habit of swinging back!

    Greetings from Sussex.



  2. Thanks for taking the time to write and be involved in our collective fight to raise awareness of hate crime and tackle it in our communities. We had a very poor turn out in London this year, not helped by the fact that it rained all night and there were a lot of transport issues across London after the TUC Demo – but it is estimated that 1,000 people attended the vigil in Trafalagar Square with a core group of 500 who remained for the duration of the event. There were at least 7 vigils around the UK this year – all helping move things forward.

    One point in response to BacktoBodrum’s comment – “Isn’t it sad that in the year 2012 there is still the need for such a vigil.” and your response “Absolutely, but I fear it’ll run for years to come.”

    Just a thought… I don’t think that it is sad that we are holding these vigils in 2012. What I find sad is that for so many years our communities failed to come out and show their support openly for those who have been affected by hate crime. I hope that they do run for years, but as each year passes that we help those affected by these attacks to move on from a place of grief and mourning towards something better – building a sense of community where we all stand up and look out for one another.


    1. Thank you for your comment. The poor showing in London kinda underlines the main thrust of my post which was my own disappointment at the lack of support for the Norwich vigil from our local LGBT community (and others). The freedoms we enjoy today can so easily be taken away. Apathy (and astonishing levels of ignorance from those who should know better) is the greatest threat to all of us. I hope for a time when vigils are not necessary because there is no hate crime. Naïve I know but I’m an eternal optimist.


  3. HI Jack,Ipopped on to this site because of the name,Perking The Pansies well you must know by now I thought it was about plants ect ,thinking how daft I was I began to read about you poor friend Ian Baynham ,how awful this mindless attack and death of this young man,why can’t pelope just let others live as they wish were your, gay, strate,abit eccentric,live and let live ,take care LIZ


  4. Hi Liz. Thanks your comment. Unfortunately, we live in a far from perfect world but I remain ever hopeful. I’m sorry I haven’t any real pansies to show you! 😉


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