In an interview with the Evening Standard, Will Mayrick, 19, said he was afraid for his life when two 16-year-old boys reportedly attacked him in October, putting him in a headlock until he apologized for being gay while riding the city's Tube.
"I am not sorry for my sexuality," Mayrick, a photography student, told the newspaper.
He said he was with four friends on the subway, heading to an event at The O2 arena. The group was wearing fancy clothes when the two suspects stepped onto the subway. Police saidthe teens put Mayrick, who is president of the LGBTQ group at Ravensbourne - a design and digital media school - into a headlock and he struggled to breath. They then forced him to apologize for being gay, took his phone and threatened to stab him, authorities said.
"We'd got a bit of glitter on and they obviously didn't like that. They shouted 'fucking gays' and 'fag,' whatever they could think of," he told the Evening Standard. "Then one grabbed hold of me and got my head in a headlock. The other grabbed my phone and tried to make me apologize for being gay."
Mayrick refused to do so but that's when one of the suspects allegedly assaulted him.
"That's not who I am. But he got me so tight round the neck that if I didn't say something I wouldn't have been able to breathe," he said. "At the same time the other guy was pulling something out of his coat. I was so, so scared."
One of Mayrick's friends, a 25-year-old woman, was punched and pushed to the ground when she tried to defend him.
"I'm proud of the fact that I'm gay, I would never want to change," he told the Evening Standard. "I'm not sorry. But at the time I thought if I don't apologize I don't know what's going to happen.
"Possibly if homophobia was on their school curriculum it wouldn't have happened," Mayrick added.
The U.K. LGBTQ rights organization Stonewall released a statement about the incident.
"It's 2017 - lesbian, gay, bi and trans people should feel safe and no one should face hatred simply because of who they are," the group told the Evening Standard. "Sadly, the reality is very different.
"Our research shows that one in five LGBT people have experienced a hate crime or incident in the last 12 months," the group added. "Homophobia, biphobia and transphobia are nothing new, but when witnessed, how we respond defines the kind of world we want to live in.
"We would also like to see a review of hate crime laws so that crimes based on sexual orientation, gender identity or disability are treated equally to those based on race and faith," Stonewall concluded.
The British Transport Police arrested two 16-year-old boys last week in connection to the incident and said they are treating the attack as a hate crime, according to the Evening Standard. The suspects have since been released on bail.