It is 23 years since I lost my dear friend Martin Hickmott and even now it leaves me feeling desperately sad at the loss of such a beautiful man, both inside and out.
I first met Martin when I was a young teenager. He was dancing in Davinci’s nightclub to house music. (I am a 90’s chick and raving and clubing was all the rage back then).
The way he moved and the joy on his face was completely mesmerizing. He had no fear, no boundaries in his dance and I knew straight away, here was a man I was going to really like.
My friend introduced us and we hit it off immediately, you couldn’t really not with Martin as he was so warm, friendly and kind to everyone he met.
I started to go out with him and his friends regularly and go round to his house for house parties. You were always met with a smile and a joke and his laugh filled the room with excitement.
His friends, I hasten to add were predominately men, homosexual and extremely good looking. I have never seen to this day a group of men who were so well turned out, so fit and completely engaging.
As someone who has never really fitted into the norm it was liberating to be around them. I was a huge hedonist back in the day and I loved them all dearly.
I introduced Martin to my boyfriend Geoff and his best mate Declan. I had to explain to my boyfriend about Martin’s sexuality before he met him, not that it should matter, but purely so he was prepared. Martin could be an outrageous flirt.
Geoff and Declan were very nervous at first as they hadn’t really experienced anyone like Martin. Martin particularly took a fancy to Declan, who was a landscape gardener and very muscly and he used tease him relentlessly. In the end my boyfriend at the time and his best mate grew to love Martin, like the rest of us did.
In Tunbridge Wells there where a group of very hard men. I was always amazed at how Martin would bob and weave round them on the dance floor and instead of him getting a donk on the nose, he was embraced and everyone laughed at his antics.
He also helped to soften my mum’s attitudes towards homosexual men. She was a vicar’s wife after all and did not approve of his lifestyle. I had to challenge her quite extensively on the sort of men Jesus would be hanging out with, the outcasts of society, the prostitutes, tax collectors and lepers.
At the time Martin had lost his job and my mum being the kind hearted lady she was wanted to help and gave him some money and a few Bible verses in an envelope. He was so touched and eventually they met and my mum’s pre-judgement disappeared as she realised what a beautiful person Martin was.
As you can probably gather Martin was like a brother to me. He was always very accepting of everyone and he was so much fun.
On the fateful night he lost his life everyone was blissfully unaware of the suffering Martin was enduring. The hideous man who took his life apparently claimed ‘gay panic’, as the reason for his brutal murder of Martin. Who knows what took place, but he killed my gorgeous friend with a claw hammer and showed no mercy.
I was at work when I received the fateful call about Martin and I completely broke down. I was such a crying mess I had to go home and I ended up getting very drunk to block out the hideousness of it all.
450 people or thereabouts attended his funeral and it was love which bound us all together at the time, not fear or hate.
So today I write this post in honour of my friend Martin and for anyone else who has experienced hate. Be it for their colour, sexuality or beliefs.
When fear and judgement take over love and beauty humans show their worst possible traits. If we learn anything from this tragic end to a great man, it is to love and to love deeply. We are all flawed human beings and no one can stand on judgement of another.
I miss you Martin, you are forever in the hearts of those who loved you dearly. Rest in peace my dear friend.