The youngest ever winner of Big Brother - Cameron Cole - is calling for tougher laws and support for people affected by abuse, whether it be verbal or physical, after experiencing a torrent of homophobia since he left the Big Brother house last year.
Cameron had one of the most poignant moments in the show's history when he came out to his fellow housemates - and the world - as part of Channel 5's last ever series of Big Brother, but that hasn't stopped homophobes from attacking him now he's back in the real world.
The Norwich-born 19-year-old says that just last week in a central London hotel, a middle-aged businessman pointed him out to his colleagues and shouted, "look isn't that the f****t off the TV?"
This was just the latest in a long line of homophobic abuse aimed at the teenager, who has also received "vile" messages on social media, some of which have said he should "kill himself for being gay". Some trolls have even managed to get ahold of his phone number, shouting abusive comments down the line at the BB winner at all hours of the day.
"It just makes me feel worthless when all this happens, and I am undeniably uncomfortable when out and about," Cameron explains. "It's horrible logging onto social media and going through messages and having to sit and read nasty homophobic comments and abuse. I wouldn't feel safe walking down the streets holding hands with a guy."
He continues: "It's not just me who receives homophobia; almost everyone in the community has received it at some point. This is the reality unfortunately. We've come a long way, but the truth is homophobia really isn't anywhere near as dead as society thinks it is. You can change the laws with regards to marriage and parenting but that doesn't change people's mindsets."
Now, he's calling for change: "We need to work to help young people, like me, who were afraid to come out in the first place. They need to know there is a strong support system and they can safely report any abuse they receive without feeling like it is a waste of time."
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