I walked right the way across town back from my friends house, through 3 neighbourhoods where I’ve had trouble before. I was tense the whole way, expecting trouble. I got within 20 metres of my house and was starting to relax, amazed that I hadn’t been harrassed. Then a group of 4 men in their late teens/early 20s came the other way down the pavement. I stepped to the inside of the pavement to pass them and instinctively felt unsafe because I could be penned in against the railings rather than have access to the road.
As I passed them, one of the men just lightly put his hand out and brushed my breast – subtle but absolutely intentional. I was expecting homophobic aggression rather than any kind of sexual harassment so was totally taken by surprise. I was a few steps beyond them before I turned round… I don’t think I even said anything. But the one guy kept looking back really quick, I stared him out but was too shocked and surprised to shout at him.
This was in broad daylight on a busy street, next to a park that was hosting a family festival. I spent the rest of the day trying not to let it bother me, because I already have a lot of stress in my life from homophobic abuse and the threat of physical violence. But I feel a small surge of shame every time I think about it, even though I know it’s not my fault.
Location: next to Banstead Park, Harehills, Leeds (north England)