Report by Grace Pascoe
A man from Camborne who was subjected to homophobic abuse while collecting his prescription is urging others to report hate crimes to the police.
Major-Troon Collis says he's been overwhelmed with support since speaking out about the attack, but feels more needs to be done to stamp out abusive behaviour in Cornwall.
The 24-year-old was waiting to pick up his prescription at a chemists in Camborne on Thursday 12 November when a group of people started hurling a torrent of homophobic abuse at him. One man in the group even threatened to physically attack him.
Major said: "I refused to engage with him. I kept myself to myself, my head forward. He could have dragged me out of that store easily within seconds. He was so close to me but luckily he didn't and I didn't rise to his abuse and his aggression.
"I certainly don't deserve it. I did nothing wrong. I said nothing. I was just collecting my medication."
The abuse was so traumatising, both for Major and others in the store, that he reported the hate crime to Devon and Cornwall Police.
A force spokesperson said: "Police are investigating reports of a hate crime on Commercial Street, Camborne on Thursday 12 November at around 5pm.
"It was reported that a group of people had verbally abused a man using homophobic language. Police enquiries remain ongoing in relation to this matter."
Anyone with information is asked to contact Devon and Cornwall Police on 101 quoting CR/095540/20.
Major, who works as a marketing manager for Lemon Street Lettings, identifies as an androgynous male. He says he is the target of hurtful abuse far too often.
He said: "Pretty much every day I leave my house, I go about my daily business and unfortunately I'm always abused by others - name calling, homophobic abuse, sometimes even physical.
"And it's got to the point where I'm annoyed with it, I don't want to do this any more and I don't deserve the abuse. What happened to not judging a book by its cover?
"There's probably others out there that can't take it. They can't be themselves. They're unable to open up and they feel trapped and I think that's wrong. And they're scared to come forward and actually, no, this is not acceptable, you should come forward."
Major was able to record part of the Camborne attack. Evidence like this can help the police.
Chief Supt Jim Gale, who is Force Hate Crime Lead at Devon and Cornwall Police, said: "It's the evidence that will help us progress the investigation and potentially secure a conviction at court.
"So it can be really useful but the overriding importance is safety and people must be safe.
"So what we would generally say to people is, if you're on the receiving end of really nasty, offensive abuse, first and foremost think of your safety and report it to us. If it is happening right there, phone 999."
Major hopes that by reporting this attack, others may feel brave enough to do the same. Intercom Trust - a lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans community resource in Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset - may be able to help with this.
Andy Hunt, CEO of Intercom Trust, said: "A lot of people suffer in silence for a long long time. We can support people to report to the police. We can also third-party report crime and incidents to the police on behalf of the client as well.
"I can understand the reluctance and the barriers for people reporting direct to the police. We are here to help and support as well."
Find out more about Intercom Trust here.