Gay teenager who fled to the UK to escape homophobic parents made unemployed and homeless. His ordeal didn’t stop there

Vic Parsons
·3-min read

A gay Romanian teen who fled to the UK to escape homophobic parents only to be made unemployed and homeless during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic is seeking help to survive the second wave.

John Ionut Mocanu lost his job in Nottingham in April, a year after he came to the UK to start a new life. The 19-year-old had been kicked out and disowned by his family in Iași, Romania, when he came out to them as gay.

Life in England has been “a lot better, but it hasn’t been easy”, John told the i.

“I heard that one of my friends lived in Nottingham after a couple of months of living in London, so I moved there,” said John. “I went door-to-door to bars, shops, cafes and restaurants to ask for a job, and then the dessert parlour took me on.

At the start of the pandemic, the dessert parlour let him go. Since. John has sofa-surfed and slept in car parks while trying to get his life back on track. He can’t claim government assistance or Universal Credit because he’s not actively employed, according to iNews, and has contacted 29 charities asking for help.

“I spent a week sleeping on the streets in a car park. I contacted homeless charity after homeless charity, and they provided me with some food and spoke to me over video call, but they couldn’t do much else. I just cried and cried because I was in so much shock.”

After being made homeless, John was bullied by his peers.

Since being sacked, John has moved between Nottingham and London, where he slept outside and also stayed with friends – but this didn’t work out long-term.

“When the restrictions were lifted, I stayed with some acquaintances in London for a while hoping that the job market would be better, but it turned really sour really quickly,” John said. “They binned my meat because they didn’t agree with eating it, and there was quite an intense bullying culture, so it wasn’t a great place to stay.”

John used an app called Next Door when he went back to Nottingham at the start of this month. “A woman called Alice found me on the app, and has paid for me to stay in a hotel until November 15. She’s been absolutely amazing,” John said. “We now speak nearly every day, but she can’t support me any further. I desperately need more help.”

He can’t return home to his “really homophobic” parents, so has started a fundraiser to help him get the money together for a “secure place to stay”.

“I have become homeless in London due to the COVID-19 pandemic and having been disowned by my family in Romania after coming out as gay,” John wrote on his GoFundMe page. “Any amount you can donate would be life-saving, so I can find a secure place to stay.”

Young LGBT+ people are disproportionately at risk of family abandonment, homelessness, and human trafficking.

According to the Albert Kennedy Trust, 24 per cent of homeless youth are LGBT+, and of these young people 69 per cent have experienced familial rejection, abuse and violence.