Last night, I walked out of my watercolor class to find six young men shaking the soda machine trying to dislodge the can that was stuck. They were big guys. They glanced at me briefly. I put my head down and slunk by, not walking fast but trying to be as invisible as possible.
The six big guys followed me out the door. My heart raced. I tried to walk normally when I wanted to run. I waited at the crosswalk. They went down the sidewalk completely unaware of me or my fear. I chastised myself for my over-reaction. Then I read and see photos of gay people getting beaten up—a seventy-five year old gay man assaulted in his front yard. Who does that?
It reminded me of the days that I didn’t want to look too “dykey” because people would scream out car windows at me or women in restrooms would tell me I didn’t belong in there because they thought I was a boy. There were hate crimes as my baby dyke self grew up. Someone put sugar in my gas tank and ruined my truck. The worst part was that the guys I worked with knew who did it but never said. Then there was always the graffiti on the restroom walls of at work—like “Whose tit you gotta suck to get promoted around here?” because I was the lesbian assistant manager.
Our daughter carries pepper spray now. I ask her every time she leaves the house if she has her spray. We live in a small town which is fairly progressive and we’re worried. I can’t imagine what people in big cities do and feel in this new climate of hate and fear.
I don’t understand this culture of persecution. Why can’t straight people just leave us alone? What does how we live and who we love have to do with them?
But this is our new life now. People tell us not to worry and give our orange Hitler a chance. A chance to do what?