When they came towards us, violent and ready to punch us, I thought, "No, they've mixed us up with someone they've got a feud with." But soon enough, they shouted out words like "batty man" and "faggot." And I realised it was because we were gay. Eight teenagers, four of them girls, chanting lyrics that went, "I go and shoot queers with a weapon..."
You will do anything to save your life if you think you're going to be killed. When they were kicking my boyfriend, a strapping guy, down to the floor and then in the head, I thought, "That's it- we're going to die." I invented a fictional sister and kept repeating, "My little sister's at home, we really need to get home - just let us go."
At some point my boyfriend's rib broke. He shouted out, "You've broken a bone," They thought they'd cracked his skull and ran off, in terror and on a high at what they thought they'd done. A few more kicks and they would have - cracked his skull, that is. He'd have died and I'd have been without my partner of many years - not because of a car accident, or because he smoked too much - but because a few fifteen year old boys and girls thought it was important to kick a gay man to death.
Once I got over the fear of what had happened, I got angry. I couldn't understand why people who I had nothing to do with, people whose personal life I didn't give a damn about, were so enraged by what I chose to do with another consenting adult. Why did it bother them so much? I'd also started looking at my previously lazy, liberal views - we live in a country where it's generally fine to be gay. But then I've always lived in cities and am fairly confident. A broadsheet commentator recently said that gay people wanted too many rights and that, anyway, we were lucky because we lived in, "a land of King Elton and Queen Norton," referring to our gay celebrities. But what's it like growing up gay in a tiny Welsh village or in a community or religion where gay people are considered evil? And why, somewhere in North London is someone routinely beaten up for who they choose to sleep with?
Seems to me that the more gay people ask for the same kinds of rights as straight people, it provokes a bigger backlash. People are more aware of our existence, and bigots will use it as an excuse to attack us. Those who beat gay people up aren't outraged by our presence - they are terrified of someone different, they want to shut them up, get rid of them.
With time and therapy I was all right again - I also moved on to the world of work, trusted new people again. I revelled in the affection of friends and felt celebrated for who I was. It was like waking up again. But forgetting isn't easy. Things come back. This year, when the local pizza chain refused to deliver to my street because their deliverymen "get beaten up by the residents they deliver to," the randomness of that violence hit me once more. And I am back at that bus stop with those screaming lyrics.