• Police officer Phil Adlem proposes to his partner at London Pride 2016. (Metropolitan Police / Twitter / @MetLGBTNetwork.)Source: Metropolitan Police / Twitter / @MetLGBTNetwork.
Phil Adlem experienced worldwide fame after a photo of him proposing to his partner at London Pride went viral. But he says his "smile did not last long" due to severe homophobic abuse and threats.
Chloe Sargeant

5 Jul 2017 - 10:17 AM  UPDATED 5 Jul 2017 - 10:17 AM

You likely know the photo of a UK police officer proposing to his boyfriend at the London Pride parade last year. It became a symbol of love - and the acceptance of a modern world - after it went viral around the globe. 

Now, the police officer in the photo Phil Adlem has written a piece for The Guardian explaining that he wishes he hadn't proposed in such a public way, because the consequential homophobic abuse was too much. 

Adlem explains that he initially received an enormous amount of support, celebration, and congratulatory messages - but the comments and messages quickly became hateful and abusive. 

Police proposals at London's Pride parade are cheered on by thousands
“He said yes.”

“'Both should be hanged ’til death,' 'Absolutely disgusting' and 'Don’t blame ISIS if they strike them!'. There were countless more, some with threats," says Adlem. “My smile did not last long as I continued reading."

Adlem explains that on top of the homophobia he was receiving online, he also experienced a "hostile reaction" to the proposal from one of his colleagues at work (Adlem is an officer in London's Metropolitan Police), and another negative reaction from a friend he went to college with.

"[This] was enough for me to wish I had never done it. I had requests for interviews, but I rejected all of them. In hindsight, I was letting other people’s opinions dictate my actions.”

London traffic lights get an LGBT+ makeover for Pride
London's Trafalgar Square is now home to around 50 new traffic and pedestrian crossing lights featuring LGBT+ symbols in lieu of the traditional solid lights or 'little green men'.

Adlem's poignant opinion piece focuses on why Pride is still entirely necessary for the LGBTQIA community and that there's still a long way to go for global acceptance.

He explains, "to millions, I'm the policeman who popped the question at last year’s parade in London. But to many more I’m an abomination – and that’s why Pride is still vital."

“Pride is an invaluable source of positivity and strength for anyone who has experienced abuse or bullying,” he wrote. “For every person who wants to attend Pride, there is a reason why it is still important.”