Connor Cunningham, a 28-year-old customer care advisor, had been on a night out in Vauxhall, London, with a friend he was dating when the bizarre incident reportedly took place
Image: Connor Cunningham)
A gay man is claiming a London bus driver who witnessed him kiss a man before getting onboard the bus “trapped him” inside the vehicle and yelled homophobic abuse at him.
Connor Cunningham, a 28-year-old customer care advisor, had been on a night out in Vauxhall with a man he was dating when the bizarre incident took place.
Connor told MyLondon he arrived at the bus stop at around 8.30am on January 16.
As the number 2 bus pulled in, Connor “intimately” kissed the man goodbye before boarding, heading to the back of the top deck.
He was shocked when he arrived at his stop in Marylebone to find the doors did not open, prompting Connor to ask the driver what was going on.
“At first I said, ‘excuse me driver’, but the doors remained closed and I began to hear shouting from the driver,” he said.
“She kept shouting and I then asked, ‘sorry, driver, what did you say?’, being polite as I had no idea what she was shouting about.
“Once I could hear her she then shouted at me ‘I saw you, I saw you kissing another man! It was you kissing another man at the bus station! Don’t you think you will be confusing children?'”
“I was in utter shock and disbelief.”
Connor then shouted: “Well I wasn’t expecting a homophobic bus driver,” prompting the driver to open the doors.
As he stepped off, Connor told the woman: “Go **** yourself.”
When he got home, the 28-year-old rang his dad, an ex-Met Police officer, for advice, who advised him to contact the police.
An officer visited Connor the next day to “discuss his concerns,” but the case was closed due to a “lack of available evidence and witnesses,” prompting Connor to submit a complaint to TfL.
After submitting a complaint, Connor was initially told the driver had “categorically denied” the allegations, but had been advised that any further complaints would result in formal action.
A week on from the alleged incident, Connor said: “I’m okay, but if it were someone else – maybe it was their first time kissing a guy… You can imagine how they would feel being told by a bus driver what they’re doing is wrong, don’t do it again – and they might not do it again.”
Asked if the alleged incident had made him cautious about publicly kissing men in the future, Connor said: “At the end of the day we’re in Central London.
“These things are normal and it’s part of the reason I moved here in the first place – to have that kind of liberty.”
“It won’t stop me. I’ll still do it. I’ll still kiss boys in public, but of course, it’s going to make me a bit more cautious..”
An email from TfL to Connor seen by MyLondon stated that the driver has denied the incident took place but a note has been left on their file and further complaints would result in more formal action.
Siwan Hayward, Director of Compliance, Policing Operations and Security at Transport for London said: “Everyone is welcome on our transport network, and we stand together against homophobia and hatred in all its forms.
“All passengers have the right to travel without fear of abuse and making public transport safe and feel safe is an absolute priority for TfL.
“The bus operator’s investigation into this serious allegation remains ongoing and we have apologized to Mr Cunningham for a previous communication that wrongly implied the operator’s investigation was closed.”
Connor is now calling on TfL to keep audio recordings of bus journeys, to make future incidents easier to investigate.
“On their website, they say they do not have audio recordings on their TFL London buses,” he said.
“I think they should because it would have proven my case and future incidents if they occur.”
A Met spokesperson said: “Police were contacted on the morning of Sunday, 16 January, by a man aged in his 20s following an interaction he had had in which the driver of a bus had allegedly made a homophobic remark as he alighted a bus in Marylebone.
“Officers met the man. They discussed his concerns but, based on the information provided and lack of available evidence and witnesses, it was determined that no further police action would be taken.
“He was advised to submit a complaint to Transport to London and the case has been closed.
“The man has been informed.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.