Deranged homophobe threatened to shoot actor Jonathan Bailey

Jonathan Bailey in Fellow Travelers
Jonathan Bailey in Fellow Travelers. Photo: Ben Mark Holzberg/Courtesy of Showtime

Out actor Jonathan Bailey says that an anti-LGBTQ+ bigot threatened to shoot him recently at a Washington, D.C., coffee shop.

In a new profile in The London Evening Standard, the Fellow Travelers and Bridgerton star opened up about the harrowing incident, which took place while he was in the U.S. capital for the Human Rights Campaign’s annual National Dinner in October.

“It was an incredible experience,” Bailey said of the LGBTQ+ advocacy organization’s event. “I met President Biden. I was there with Shonda Rhimes, she was being given an award, Matt Bomer was given another one; I was introducing him. My first political gala. I had the most amazing night.”

Bailey said he was still riding high on the experience when he went out for coffee the next morning wearing a Human Rights Campaign cap. He was chatting with a coffee shop employee who recognized him from Bridgerton, when another customer entered the shop.

“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,” Bailey said.

Things turned ugly when the man recognized the actor’s HRC cap.

“He pulled it off my head and he threw it across the room and he said, ‘Get out of this f**king coffee shop, you queer,’” Bailey recalled.

According to The Standard, Bailey remembered the room going still as he picked up his cap and put it back on his head. The stranger continued to threaten him: “If you don’t take that cap off, I’m gonna f**king shoot you,” Baily recalled him saying. “Where I’m from, people like me kill people like you!”

“No one knew what to do,” Bailey said. Then a young woman began recording the interaction on her phone, telling Bailey that he was “welcome in this country” and that she thought what the man was saying was “appalling.” Ultimately, the bigot left the coffee shop.

While Bailey did not say whether the man actually had a gun, he said the man told him he was from Pennsylvania, and the actor was struck by the fact that “potentially, there is a kid who- that’s his father. That’s his uncle. That’s his teacher.” 

“My life was threatened. My body believed it. My brain didn’t and it took me a while to really catch up with it,” he said. “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.”

“And of course, that’s not just an American story,” he added. “It’s international. And it’s terrifying, that [here in the U.K.] we’re not looking after queer people, in terms of allowing them into the country. Because that is the reality; people’s lives are literally at risk.”

Bailey seemed to be referring to former U.K. Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s recent suggestion that being LGBTQ+ should not qualify refugees from oppressive countries for asylum.

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