Words: Alastair James; pictures: Claire Fry
A mother is warning people of the impact homophobic attacks have on victims after her son took his own life following an attack.
Claire Fry, 48, says her son, Tommy Thwaites, struggled following the attack which took place at a nightclub in Maidstone in 2015. He took his own life in 2019, aged 25.
Ahead of the second anniversary of his death, Fry, who has set up a charity in memory of her son, has opened up about how he was impacted.
"Tommy as I knew him died that day"
Speaking to the Daily Star, Fry described her son as being "happy with his life and sexuality," after coming out at 16, but that this changed following the attack in 2015.
Thwaites was attacked by a group of thugs in the Dusk2Dawn nightclub in Maidstone in June 2015. They reportedly smashed a glass in his face and stabbed him. No one has been charged given a lack of evidence.
Recounting seeing her son at the hospital, Fry said: "The nurse told him he was lucky to be alive because the stab wounds just missed his arteries."
"He survived the attack but my Tommy as I knew him died that day. Just before he killed himself he told me he wasn’t proud to be gay," she continued.
A few weeks later Thwaites took an overdose and was referred for specialist mental health support. His mum explained how he developed PTSD and completely changed, becoming angry.
"He was open and told me he wasn’t the same loving Tommy anymore who enjoyed being out and about. He could not understand why being gay would lead to something so awful."
She also said her son talked openly about suicide, despite her repeated attempts to persuade him he would be ok. He took his life in November 2019.
Fry has now set up the charity Tommy’s Rainbow Charity Trust which helps people with their mental health.
"We just want to save lives in memory of Tommy," she said.
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