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  • Writer's picturePaul Burston

Shame on you, Stonewall

Updated: May 3, 2022

I was going to let this go, but I can’t. Two days have passed since the 23rd anniversary of the bombing of the Admiral Duncan gay pub in Soho – the single biggest act of homophobic violence this country has ever seen.

On April 30, 1999, a nail bomb exploded inside a packed pub at the start of a busy bank holiday weekend. Three people died and many more suffered life changing injuries. 76 people were injured in all. Some lost limbs.

I was close by at the time. I heard the explosion. I saw the carnage. It isn’t something you forget in a hurry.

And yet, two days after the anniversary, “our” rights organisation Stonewall hasn’t even acknowledged it. Not a word of remembrance for those who died. Not a show of solidarity with those who survived. Not a mention.

They have been active on Twitter, posting about other events and issues – Lesbian Visibility Week, Eid, IVF and the row over the ban on conversion therapy.

But what about this event which many gay Londoners remember only too well, and which left profound physical and psychological scars on our community? Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

And Stonewall wonder why so many of us feel so let down by them. In February, they used LGBT+ History Month to talk about the rights of asexuals. I’m still not sure which rights asexuals are currently missing, but I’m pretty certain they don’t have a history of criminalisation or imprisonment, have never been legislated against or targeted by a nail bomber because of their sexuality.

And what about those people who have been criminalised and legislated against, who have been on the receiving end of homophobic violence and who lost life and limb on that terrible bank holiday Friday in 1999?

Not a mention. Not a dicky bird. Not a single fucking tweet. Shame on you, Stonewall. Shame on you.

Update May 3 at 11.30am - I’ve received an apologetic email from Nancy Kelley at Stonewall, thanking me for drawing this to her attention. Expect a statement from them shortly.

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