Melbourne man Drew Ezell was on his way home from a typical night out when his Uber driver pulled over and told him to get out of the car.
He was coming from a Collingwood gay bar and was kissing another man, an act he said the homophobic driver labelled “disgusting”.
“Last night I went to a gay bar and I drank. I sang. I danced. I celebrated being in the community I love. Because I refuse to live a life in fear. But last night something did scare me,” he wrote in a Facebook post.
“I caught an Uber home. Like I have many times before. But this time I had someone with me. I kissed them. And for that, we got kicked out of our Uber. Because two men kissing disgusted someone so much that they refused to drive two people home. I was, and still am, furious about this.”
The creative writing and film student from Brunswick said he was — and still is — furious about the incident, but in the wake of the mass shooting in Orlando, a targeted attack on the LGBTI community, it also filled him with fear.
“I have every right to live my life, to love the people I do, to not be afraid to kiss the person I want just because they are a man,” he wrote.
“But this morning when I woke up. I had a moment of fear. Because on Sunday, someone decided that two men kissing was reason enough to massacre 50 of them.
“It was a small moment of fear, and it passed. And then I went back to feeling angry. And a little sad. Angry that I now live in a world where the thought that me kissing someone might lead to the death of others. Angry that that is even a thought I have to have. Angry that so much senseless violence happens. Angry that 50 of my brothers and sisters are now dead because of who they loved.”
Drew has since contacted Uber, who refunded the cost of his trip and are investigating the driver’s conduct, but the issue is bigger than “a small man in a shitty car “, he said.
“I am now angry that even though it is 2016, I have to be afraid of being punished for who I kiss,” he said.
“I refuse to live a life in fear.”
He told Mamamia his experience highlighted the need for equality and the importance of programs like Safe Schools, which help educate kids and “stop bullying… from becoming the bigotry of tomorrow.”
“The thing that hit me the most is that this horrible tragedy has just happened and instead of people banding together, there’s still that hate that’s going around and being perpetuated,” he said.
“It’s heartbreaking because after something like that you want to believe that there’s good in the people, good in the world and it makes you doubt your faith in humanity.”
It follows an incident just last week in which a young woman and her girlfriend were threatened by a homophobic Uber driver in the same suburb.
You can listen to a recording of the rant they endured here:
That driver has since lost his job.