A few evenings ago, I was walking down the street with my girlfriend in downtown Louisville. We were walking home from a poetry reading. As we were walking, I noticed a man walking along side of us. He passed us, and then spat twice directly in our pathway. It didn’t hit us, fortunately.
I was baffled. I said aloud, “Gross! Did that guy just spit at us?”
Another man, who had been walking just behind us, also passed us up. He overheard my question and said, “He was cursing you.”
I was even more puzzled. “What?”
“He was cursing you. It was a curse,” he said, and continued down the street.
My girlfriend and I were disgusted and confused. Why in the world would some random strange man want to curse us? And then it hit me.
It was because my girlfriend and I were holding hands. In public. For all the world to see. Including homophobic jerkwads.
As an openly gay woman, I’ve had to train myself to not notice people on the street. I’ve taught myself to not pay attention to other people’s reactions when they see my girlfriend and me holding hands or acting affectionate in public. You know, the same way straight couples act in public, only they don’t get spit at or cursed. This kind of deliberate tuning out of the world is the only way I’m able to enjoy being out and visible with my girlfriend. So sometimes I forget that people hate me without knowing me. Sometimes I forget that people think I’m evil, a sinner, going to hell, disgusting, perverted, or somehow less than human.
It’s not very pleasant to be reminded.