Metro Weekly

Homophobe Threatens to Shoot Jonathan Bailey for Wearing HRC Cap

"Fellow Travelers" actor recounts being accosted in a D.C. coffee shop for wearing a hat with a Human Rights Campaign logo on it.

Jonathan Bailey (
Jonathan Bailey – Photo: Instagram

Fellow Travelers star Jonathan Bailey says he was threatened with violence during a recent trip to Washington, D.C.

Speaking with the Evening Standard as part of a profile for the newspaper, the British-born actor recounted attending the Human Rights Campaign’s National Dinner, an annual gala held in Washington, D.C., back in October.

During the gala, he introduced actor and Fellow Travelers co-star Matt Bomer, who was receiving HRC’s Impact Award, which recognizes members of the LGBTQ community dedicated to advocating for queer issues.

He also recalled meeting President Joe Biden and television producer Shonda Rhimes, who received HRC’s National Equality Award. The night was so exciting and so special that Bailey recalls not being able to get much sleep.

“I woke up the next morning, it was like a montage. Sunshine, I was like, this is brilliant. I went into a coffee shop, and I was wearing a Human Rights Campaign cap from the night before,” he recounts. “And the young lady who I was ordering from recognized me from Bridgerton, we were just chatting.”

Soon, a new customer shattered Bailey’s happy mood.

“[A] man arrived behind me, and he said, ‘Are you famous?’ And I said something like, ‘I’m really famous for ordering coffee,’ which is actually quite an annoying thing to say,” says Bailey. “And then he got my cap, and he pulled it off my head and he threw it across the room and he said, ‘Get out of this fucking coffee shop, you queer.”

Bailey walked across the room to pick up his hat and put it back on his head, to which the man responded, “If you don’t take that cap off, I’m gonna fucking shoot you.” 

The man — who Bailey discovered was from Pennsylvania — added, “Where I’m from, people like me kill people like you.”

Luckily, someone intervened on Bailey’s behalf.

“No one knew what to do, apart from one girl, she was amazing,” Bailey told the Standard. “Angela, she came up, and she got her phone out and she said, ‘I’m recording this message, I think you are welcome in this country. And what you’re saying, I think, is appalling.'”

The disgruntled man left the coffee shop.

Bailey said he considered that the man who threatened him was someone’s father, uncle, or teacher, and led him to reflect on how tolerance and affirmation may be unrealistic for LGBTQ people who are forced to face hostility like that in their daily lives.

“My life was threatened,” he said. “My body believed it; my brain didn’t and it took me a while to really catch up with it. But I’ve got friends and security. There are so many people that don’t. They are surrounded by that every day, and the torment of what that must be like, the amount of fear that was generated… If that’s what children are surrounded by, they’re not going to be able to grow in any way.”

He also reflected on the fact that many countries criminalize homosexuality and same-sex relations, meaning the kind of hostility he faced while in Washington, D.C. is not uncommon in other nations — including Great Britain, which has become reticent to accept LGBTQ refugees fleeing from countries with laws criminalizing homosexuality.

Bailey said he’s been receiving messages on social media in response to Fellow Travelers‘ depiction of a decades-long secret gay romance.

“People are still living in the closet,” he said. “Or they’ve had a moment where they’re watching and they realize, that was their father’s story, or their mother’s story; or it’s people who have been affected by this, but for the first time are understanding the trauma.

“People are so shocked that this is such recent history, but the majority of people in the world are living under that sort of belief system. And people on Instagram message from areas in the world where just getting through the day without being outed is survival.”

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