[CW: anti-queer slurs, harassment]
I feel I have to write about an incident that recently happened to me and my wife. I’m writing about this in part because it was a very upsetting moment that I need to process and in part because it cements for me the fact that no matter where you are, even in incredibly welcoming and accepting Seattle, there’s bigotry and assholery.
My wife and I were in the grocery store. There was a guy behind us who was pissed because he only had a few things and we had a full cart of groceries. Instead of asking if he could go in front of us, he just got huffy and increasingly annoyed. Then, out of nowhere, he called me a stupid bitch. I was not going to just let that slide, so I asked him why he said that, and told him if he was going to be an asshole he could get into a different line.
Fortunately, the cashier intervened and told the guy to chill out or get out. We finished checking out without incident and left the grocery store, but this guy was right behind us. Once my wife and I got to the parking lot he just started shouting slurs at me in particular. I said nothing, because this interaction was clearly not worth my time nor was it worth escalating, so he shouted “Listen to me, you dyke witch!” We chose to leave him there without engaging. We got in the car and drove away.
This experience was incredibly scary. I was afraid this person was going to physically attack me and my wife. I was shaken and upset. I felt self-conscious and kept running over and over again in my mind how I could have avoided the situation.
But I’m glad I said something to him when he first called me a name. I’m glad I had my wife with me to support me and to hold my hand. I’m glad I didn’t engage him more than once because clearly there was no reasoning with this person. In the end, it was a totally absurd situation.
Really what is the most frustrating about this is that misogyny and homophobia are still the low-hanging fruit of insults. People pluck them with ease and toss them at you like they are obvious and horribly wounding. The most wounding thing is not the words (honestly, in a different context “dyke witch” sounds pretty awesome), but the fact that they were hurled with such painful intent. Even in welcoming and accepting Seattle, people know that they can hurt you by pointing out that you’re not straight and that you’re not a cis man. It’s painful to recognize.
Here’s to standing up for ourselves, being public about who we are when we are safe to do so, and recognizing when a fight is not worth the time.