Sunday, September 14, 2008

Fear and Anger -- from both sides it seems

I read part of this article over the shoulder of someone on the metro a couple of days ago. Like Metrokin (one of the victims of an attack against 4 gay men), I accepted my neighborhood as a safe place in which to hold hands with my girlfriend and even stop to kiss her on the street if I feel like it. I don't know if this article says to me that there simply is no safe place to do that, or if it's just not here. Or if horrible crimes just happen, and sometimes they happen to gay people. I want to distinguish myself from his story - to say that it's different because he's a gay man and I'm a lesbian, or because he was out at 4:00 in the morning and I rarely am. But I think that's just my desire to feel safe, and the differences don't really tell me anything in the end. And the truth is, I know guys who are walking home from the bar at 4:00 in the morning, and I want them to be safe too.

I'm angry with these attackers that I don't know, and I'm angry with everyone in the world who helps to create an environment where it's okay to hate gay people. I'm angry with them because I do not want to feel scared. I feel scared enough from worries that don't involve whether I'm gay or not - the fear of being a woman living alone in a big city. And now I feel like I have to be scared of being a gay woman in this ultra-gay neighborhood.

I'm probably not going to change my behavior in any real way because it's part of who I am, and that's part of the reason I chose to live where I do. But today standing on the street talking with my girlfriend, I held back from kissing her and felt myself tense up because a guy was looking at us as he passed.


N said...

I think your post points out the crucial link between people who actually commit these acts of violence and people (especially powerful and famous people) who say intolerant things and create an environment where it's okay to be completely bigoted against gay people. Being gay, I definitely felt angry at the people who create the enviromen, but hadn't been able to articulate why before reading this. Thanks for putting the pieces together.

(In)Sanity Gal said...

thanks for your comment, n. i'm so grateful that there are powerful people out there who are arguing the other side, but i look forward to a day where being bigoted against gay people is accompanied by as much of a negative stigma as i think being racially bigoted is - not that there aren't people who are, but i think there's an appropriate level of shame in admitting it. i think there are a lot of folks out there who don't feel any shame in being bigoted against gay people. but as angry and frustrated as this article made me, i do have to keep hoping that we're moving forward.

Anonymous said...

ok, 2nd attempt.

1. is there any activity on the ground to publicly respond to this? i hadn't heard about this case at all but i'm hoping the local news media, neighborhood groups, LBGT community, and larger news outlets pick this story up. i hope people are making a big deal out of this because it is a big deal.

2. the important part about getting word out about this obvious hate crime isn't because this is the first time it's happened and i'm not naive enough to believe it'll be the last. i'm pissed off and scared like any decent person would be, but reflection has to turn to action in some way--getting the word out is an example of starting that. conversations have to begin anew about power and privilege, difference and oppression. i lead discussions on this stuff in my classes regularly (yay sociology!) but these conversations MUST occur outside of the classroom. i don't want to imply that this is only an 'academic discussion' because it's not--these are real things with real consequences.

3. i disagree with a comment left on the metro's page saying this doesn't have anything to do with race or class-but i'll leave that for later.

thanks for making us aware of this incident!

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