A pub bartender claims he was kicked out of his job by cruel online bullies who repeatedly ordered takeout from his workplace and threatened him with acid – all because is an Irish gay traveler. James Lawrence was enjoying his job as a bartender until trolls caught wind of where he worked via TikTok and started placing multiple takeout orders on his behalf.
Over a three-week period last month, the 24-year-old was forced to turn away delivery drivers who showed up at the pub expecting payment. And his social media was soon flooded with hateful comments from trolls threatening to throw acid in his face and ordering him to kill himself.
Fearing his tormentors would show up at his job, James handed in his resignation and took a break from his TikTok account – which he had started with the aim of educating people about his experiences as a gay Irish traveler. James is now calling on TikTok to do more to stop trolls and is now pushing for photo verification to be required on all profiles so trolls cannot hide anonymously on the platform.
James, from Bristol, said: “I worked in a pub for two months. The trolls on TikTok found out where it was, they are honestly like investigators. My partner was live on TikTok a while ago. three weeks, and a customer said the place was name in the background.The troll accounts took it over from there.
“One night a pizza came out but because it was so busy we didn’t think it was due to the trolls. There were so many people at the bar it could have been one of between them.Then another night a pizza comes in. the door for someone named James I was outside on my break and my manager came out to ask me if I had ordered a pizza.
“I said ‘no’ so my manager went to see if anyone had ordered a pizza. I spoke to the delivery guy and asked to look at the receipt. It had my name on it and I almost had a heart attack. I just thought ‘oh my god, this is getting so close to home now’.
“I felt like I was shitting myself, I was just thinking ‘what if someone comes to where I work and does something? if we had placed an order luckily they asked before we made and sent it.
“It’s just sad because it doesn’t just affect my job – it affects business owners and delivery drivers. It’s just disgusting. I just don’t understand why people would go this far.
“I haven’t been fired from work. My management was absolutely lovely, but I just thought it was better for me to walk away from it because of the trolling. My manager said I would be allowed to come back but I wouldn’t. I’m not allowed to make videos there [as] It’s a matter of safety.”
James believes he is being targeted because of his heritage and his sexuality – things that have long drawn vitriolic abuse.
James said: “Since I started on TikTok I’ve had a lot of horrible trolls. Since I’m an Irish gay traveler I’ve had a lot of comments saying I should kill myself and people will throw acid in my face.
“There was a time when I was being targeted daily, it must have been the same person who was constantly creating new accounts. I feel like a lot of people on the app can’t handle the intersectionality of a gay traveler.”
You don’t have to suffer in silence if you have mental health issues. Here are some groups you can contact when you need help:
Samaritans: phone 116 123, 24 hours a day, or email [email protected], confidential
Childline: Phone 0800 1111. Calls are free and will not appear on your bill
PAPYRUS: Voluntary organization to help suicidal teenagers and young adults. Telephone 0800 068 4141
Depression Alliance: A charity for people with depression. No helpline but offers useful resources and links to further information on its website
Students Against Depression: A website for depressed, moody, or suicidal students. Click here to visit
Bullying UK: a website for children and adults affected by bullying. Click here
Campaign Against Living Miserable (CALM): for young men who feel unhappy. Has a website here and a helpline: 0800 58 58 58
Since quitting his job, James has been considering his future on TikTok – where he has over 89,000 followers.
James said: “You can’t win with trolls. They would say all kinds of things about me not having a job and then go to such extremes to pressure me to quit my job. It makes me consider to quit TikTok I started my TikTok to educate people about travelers and raise awareness about the discrimination and racism that travelers face.
“As a gay traveler, I got asked a lot of questions about it. My TikTok grew from there and I got a following, but I also gained trolls.
“I’m still trying to work in a bar. I just need to know if I’m going to give up TikTok to go back to work. Everything is very fresh at the minute. I don’t want to let trolls win by giving away something I appreciate it, because I love being on TikTok. I appreciate the support, I love answering questions, and I love educating people, but it can also have a terrible effect on my mental health.
A TikTok spokesperson said: “TikTok is a diverse and inclusive community where there is no room for hatred or discrimination. Our community guidelines make it clear that we do not allow content that contains hate speech. hate.”