In response to two young gay men being beaten by an enraged crowd of homophobic miscreants in Manchester, a volunteer group of gay and lesbian choir singers staged “Safe to Sing,” a public demonstration about the intolerance of homophobia.
According to The Guardian, during the early hours of Nov. 1, Jean-Claude Manseau, 25, and Jake Heaton, 19, were riding the Manchester tram system to Canal Street, located at the center of Manchester’s gay village.
The two victims were reportedly singing songs from the musical, “Wicked,” which sparked a slew of gay slurs from a group of men who were also on the tram system. Manseau and Heaton exited the train at Piccadilly Gardens, but the group of about 15 men followed and proceeded to assault the young men.
After the attack, Heaton told the Manchester Evening News: “It was definitely homophobic. Throughout it all they were hurling abuse at us. I don’t feel safe now. You feel like you can’t be who you actually are when there are people like this walking the streets.”
Although the two victims were not in attendance for the choir demonstration, Jacqueline Nield, Jo’s mother, told supporters: “To think that all these people have come out tonight for my son. It’s just a pity the rest of the world isn’t so kind.”
The group of choir members, which began with more than 80 participants, got off the train at Piccadilly Gardens where they gathered in the square to perform a rendition of “Defying Gravity” from “Wicked.”
The overall premise for the staged choir route was to fight back against homophobia in a positive as well as exuberant way. The crowd of hundreds was able to safely and effectively spread their message of acceptance in a completely creative way.
Damian McHugh, who works for an HIV charity, told reporters: “It’s so important to show support. There’s a lot of talk about the gay community, and sometimes people think it’s just about going out to party, but this is what it’s about too. This is about sending out a clear message that homophobia is unacceptable in our city.”