Words: Steve Brown
Big Brother winner Cameron Cole has called for tougher laws after suffering homophobic abuse.
The 19-year-old housemate came out on the final series while discussing his sexuality with Lewis Flanagan after contestant Cian revealed to housemates that he had a crush on Cole and that he'd "eat him alive".
During another conversation later on, Cole encouraged Lewis to ask him the question "Are you gay?" to which Cole replied: "Yes."
The vlogger then attempted to hide under his hood before Lewis encouraged him to pull it down and gave him a high-five, congratulating him for coming out.
And now, after winning the series, Cole revealed he has received a torrent of homophobic abuse – both verbal and physical – since leaving the Big Brother house.
While speaking to Female First, the reality TV star revealed that while visiting a hotel in London, a middle-aged businessman pointed at him and called him a “f****t”.
He also went on to explain how he has received online abuse with people telling him to “kill himself for being gay” and others have got hold of his mobile number and shout abusive messages down the phone to him.
Cole continued: "It just makes me feel worthless when all this happens, and I am undeniably uncomfortable when out and about.
"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.
"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.
"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."