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Digital Subscriptions > Attitude > Issue 274 > My Private Hell

My Private Hell

The homophobia suffered by a pupil at one of the UK’s top public boarding schools overflowed into his adult life and continues to plague him almost to this day

Earlier this year, actor Laurence Fox revealed that Harrow School had threatened him with legal action for making remarks about its ingrained homophobia. He wasn’t the first to speak out — Benedict Cumberbatch made similar comments about the London public school two years ago. Both were my contemporaries, and if this sort of hatred had a negative impact on these two heterosexual men (a timely reminder that it is bad for everyone regardless), it nearly killed me.

Being gay at Harrow in the early Nineties was social suicide. It is the most homophobic environment I’ve ever encountered. I don’t doubt that similar schools were as bad and I don’t imagine my experience was worse than anyone else’s.

I imagine that times have changed and the school is more accepting now — just last month the Boarding School Association issued new guidelines on how to be more inclusive of LGBTIQ+ pupils but when I was there in the 1990s it was far from accepting.

I spent five years glancing over my shoulder, petrified that someone was on to my secret. If I’d walked into a working men’s club in 1965 and announced, “I’m here for the gay sex,” I’d have come away with fewer scars.

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About Attitude

EXCLUSIVE: The world’s greatest supermodel Naomi Campbell tells Attitude why gay Empire actor Jussie Smollett is the hottest thing in Hollywood. Also in this issue, legendary director Pedro Almodovar, comedian Zoe Lyons, hot new thriller author Martin Holmen, awesome new music act Nimmo, artist Lindsay Kemp, and drag star Violet Chachki. Plus, professor Brian Cox explains everything you ever needed to know about the universe.