Bridgerton star Jonathan Bailey has revealed his “life was threatened” during a homophobic incident in Washington D.C.

Content warning: This story includes topics that could make some readers feel uncomfortable and/or upset.

The actor was in the city attending the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) 2023 National Dinner on 15 October, alongside Fellow Travelers co-star Matt Bomer.

The next morning he went to pick up coffee, wearing a branded HRC cap.

“And a man arrived behind me and he said, ‘Are you famous?’ And I said something like, ‘I’m really famous for ordering coffee,’ which is actually quite an annoying thing to say,” Bailey explained in an interview with The Standard.

“And then he got my cap, and he pulled it off my head and he threw it across the room and he said, ‘get out of this f***ing coffee shop, you queer’.”

Bailey recalled how the room went quiet – “in the moment, everything slows down” – and he retrieved his cap from the floor and placed it back on his head.

“No one knew what to do, apart from one girl, she was amazing,” he continued. “Angela, she came up, and she got her phone out and she said, ‘I’m recording this message, I think you are welcome in this country. And what you’re saying, I think, is appalling.’ That happened sort of five minutes in, and he left.”

Bailey added: “My life was threatened. My body believed it; my brain didn’t and it took me a while to really catch up with it. But I’ve got friends and security.

“There are so many people that don’t. They are surrounded by that every day, and the torment of what that must be like, the amount of fear that was generated… If that’s what children are surrounded by, they’re not going to be able to grow in any way.”

In response to the incident, Bailey flagged homophobic attacks as an international problem: “And of course, that’s not just an American story. It’s international. And it’s terrifying, that [here in the UK] we’re not looking after queer people, in terms of allowing them into the country. Because that is the reality; people’s lives are literally at risk.”