When I was seventeen someone tried to rape me. I thought the guy was a friend and I had known him for about six months. He was in his late thirties, had a balding shaved head and was of stocky build. I met him in one of Glasgow's gay bars and, although he was older than me, we were friends. I started exploring Glasgow's gay scene when I was sixteen, losing my virginity at this age. I would go out to Glasgow's gay clubs twice a month and enjoyed experimenting with my sexuality. I wouldn't describe myself as sexually experienced at the age of seventeen, but I wasn't naive either. I was usually perceptive about the dynamics in relationships and genuinely believed this guy to be a good person.
I liked having someone to go clubbing with and he seemed nice. We had been partying at the Polo Lounge, a gay club in Glasgow's Merchant City. I was staying in a hotel room around the corner and had mentioned that the room had twin beds. The nightclub shut at 3 am and I hadn't pulled. My friend lived on the other side of Glasgow and asked, as his taxi home would be expensive, whether he could stay in my hotel room. I made it clear we wouldn't be sharing the same bed.
I told him on several occasions, that night and before, that there was no physical attraction on my part towards him and that there would never be anything sexual between us. I told him this again before agreeing to let him sleep in my room. As soon as I switched the lights off he got out of his bed and climbed into mine. I immediately made it clear that I did not want him there and reacted with incredulity. I couldn't believe this was happening. Wanting to remain in control of the situation, I suppressed the impulse to jump out. I hoped to get him out of my bed and back into his, perhaps diffusing the situation with humour. Given what happened next this was a mistake and I should have been more assertive. I think I was naked, apart from underwear. He climbed on top of me. I pushed him off, but he was very persistent, refusing to leave me alone. This went on for a few minutes, with, at one point, him holding my arms down for about thirty seconds, while I struggled to get away. However, as his hands were occupied holding me down he wasn't able to turn me over and do anything harmful.
I was relieved to be out of his grasp, but too frightened to ask him to leave. Once I was out of the bed I had to negotiate having a potential rapist in my bedroom, without any way of getting rid of him. If I demanded he leave, I was worried it would precipitate another attack. There was no hotel security, just a lady at reception. I didn't know that this could be resolved decisively and quickly in my favour. There were no other rooms in the hotel available and, almost as a matter of pride, I didn't want to surrender my room to the rapist. I crept to the other bed, ensuring he had fallen asleep before I allowed myself to drift off. He did not attack me again during the night and I was relieved when I woke up safely the next day.
In the morning we made small talk. We discussed that I would be heading to Oxford later that year, having been accepted to read Modern History at Oriel College, Oxford. The photo below was taken that summer, upon my matriculation at Oxford. We also chatted about my A Levels, which I was sitting that summer at Fettes. He acted as if nothing had taken place the night before and asked when I would next be in Glasgow. As the sun shone through the windows of the hotel room that morning, I was so pleased to leave uninjured, having had a narrow escape. Years later I bumped into him in a bar in Glasgow, where we briefly made small talk, although I sensed an apprehension on his part.
My parents and school friends didn't know about my gay life, so I didn't dare confide in them that this near rape had occurred. My previous blogs have touched on a range of LGBT and HIV awareness issues, all in some way examining stigma, whether that be stigma surrounding HIV, Hep C or LGBT identities, whether as a teenager or as an adult. I didn't discuss the attempted rape for a decade. Until 1994 male rape was not recognised as an offence in the UK. Rape could only be committed by a man against a woman. 78,000 people in the UK are victims of rape each year, of which 9,000 are men, according to the government's most recent statistics. A gay man attacking another gay man, or any intra-community sexual assault, can be a hard topic to broach. I felt shame regarding what had taken place. Broken Rainbow is the UK's specialist LGBT charity for domestic violence, encompassing LGBT rape. No one should be under any illusions: 'no' means 'no' in any language, and in any and all sexualities. Forced, coerced or pressurized non-consensual sex is repellent whoever the participants are.