(i wish the following story reflected better on me)
well, i met a homophobe the other day.
and i'm telling you this because i haven't had an interaction with an overt, unapologetic homophobe since i was 13 years old.*
THAT's how sheltered my life is. i so rarely have to deal with in-my-face ignorance that i tend to think it doesn't really exist (except in presidential campaigns (zing!)).
i mean, i know that all those "-isms" exist, but in my circumstance, i see them in subtle undertones. i see them in patronizing, throw away comments in passing. i'm used to dealing with the -isms that are apparent in what's NOT being said, so that if i point something out as being homophobic or racist or sexist, people can tell me i'm crazy and over-sensitive. those are the interactions i'm used to.
i'm not going to lie, i didn't know how to react to my homophobe. i'm going to tell you about our conversation because i feel like a few of you are probably thinking, "you're just crazy and over-sensitive."
i was making polite conversation with this guy at a bonfire and he asked me what area i live in and if i like it and if there's somewhere else i'd rather live. and i think i said something about how i love where i live, but it think it would also be cool to live in the heart of downtown or in the lower avenues (the first neighborhood built in salt lake. it's kind of a cool, artsy area). and he said, "the avenues? isn't that where the gays live?"
and i wasn't sure what he said, so i was like, "gangs?"
and he was like, "no. the gays."
and so i ever so eloquently was like, "...i mean... i'm sure some... i don't... i think 'the gays' are everywhere, dude."
so then he upped the ante and said, "i'd never want to live in the avenues. i'm afraid i'd get raped."
and so i ever so eloquently inquired, "...you think that if you lived in the aves, you'd get raped?"
"by the gays."
"... i don't think that's a thing."
"listen, i'm from atlanta. so i know."
"are gay people doing a lot of raping in atlanta?"
"... i'm just saying that i'm from atlanta. so i know what i'm talking about."
"i just... i mean... i don't think you need to worry. none of my gay friends have ever mentioned the need to start a raping epidemic. but, granted, they don't live in the avenues."
"and if anything, i think i'm in more danger of getting raped by being around [as i look dude right in the eyes] straight men."
and then i every so elequently shut it down, "well, i'm going to head home. bye."
guys, it was super awkward. his nonchalance and his assumption that i would agree with what he was saying threw me for a loop. so i defaulted to sarcasm because that's what i know how to do. however, i keep thinking about this conversation and if i should've done more. i keep trying to think what i would want my friends to say to someone who was nonchalantly saying hateful, but absurdly ignorant statements about my sexuality or my gender or my religion, and i think i'd be okay with mockery. but, again, i've never had to deal with constant, in-my-face, make-me-fear-my-physical-safety hatred because of my sexuality or gender or religion. i'm used to homophobia and sexism in undertones, and sarcasm and mockery are truly the best way to hit back at that. but maybe the best way to deal with out-in-the-open bigotry is out-in-the-open "you are foolish and wrong and you need to stop talking"-otry.
this is new to me.
and i'm so sorry to the many people for whom this is not new. i am so sorry.
*when i was either in 8th or 9th grade, a group of students at my high school started a "s.a.f.e." petition in an effort to get rid of our school's gay/straight alliance club. in response, the school board got rid of all non-academic clubs at my school.