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Even in Paris You’re a Fag: Harassment Open Thread

This is crossposted at Randomly Ray

I haven’t been harassed for being gay since I was in high school.

Unfortunately, my ex– Alex Blaze has not fared so well. He asks:

“So for all of you, have you recently experienced homophobic, transphobic, or sexist street harassment recently? Participated in it? Do you think it’s still common in 2008? Does it depend on where you are?

I cannot comment on Bilerico because I was banned for revealing my ex’s age, GASP! (That’s not to mention his name and his profession which are also untrue).

Speaking the truth was deemed “harmful” and

“This comment was deleted for violating the Terms of Service,”

the truth being inconvenient for Mr. Blaze.

But I can speak the truth here, I hope (and I will).

It’s all about sex anyway (according to to Alex),

“I mean, are we really (when it comes right down to it) just fighting for the right to fuck?

whoever, whenever?

I think, sometimes, that’s the way it’s perceived which, face it, is pretty shallow.

(Alex’s response):

Well, aren’t we?

I mean, it’s not like gay/bi people are really all that oppressed if they just marry the opposite sex and keep their rockets/coochies in their pockets.

If sexuality is kept out of the picture, then we do have the right to marriage already, we won’t lose our jobs based solely on sexual orientation if we didn’t talk about sexuality, we’d be just fine in the military….”

As I said then (and I’ll say again now) it’s really about non-conformity:

“As I said earlier, homophobia is really fear of the other…one who is perceived as different…

And actually, it usually has more to do with gender– that one is perceived as not behaving in a gender-normative manner (You’re not doing what boys do…or you’re not behaving very “lady-like”).

But then that fear also feeds into the homophobic fear of a non-normative “lifestyle,” as well ( which is fear of the unknown).

When I first read this piece, I thought of the many times that Alex and I were out in public–at Kroger or Meijer or Walmart–where Alex was openly affectionate, holding my hand or rubbing my back or kissing me, oblivious to passers by. Or the night we went to the Cheesecake Factory and shared our plate of pasta, remarkably unmolested. Or the night we had dinner at Boca’s and the waitress was clearly charmed by our shameless adoration of each other. And that was in Indiana, for crying out loud. I remembered, also, that night at Talbott Street: we had gone to see a drag show. We weren’t really watching the show. We were kissing; he was biting my chin, licking inside my ear, holding me close to him. His hand rested between my legs and he smiled at me as he unbuttoned my shirt and ran his fingers along my chest.

“You two,” a plump woman with thinning brown hair commanded out of nowhere, “Make out so I can take a picture.”

“No,” Alex answered, glaring her down.

“Come on,” she said, lifting her camera.

“I said ‘NO’,” Alez insisted.

“OK,” she mumbled and staggered away, back to her table.

“How humiliating,” he whispered to me, “What if we did that to them?”

“We should,” I said, “We should get a camera and walk around looking for straight people to film in the act.”

He laughed.

“Just walk up to random men and women on the street and say, ‘Excuse me. Would you make out with her so I can take your picture?'”

“They’d prob’ly like it. You know how they are.”

“Always flaunting their lifestyle,” I teased.


I have lived my life openly and honestly–what you see is what you get– and have, for the most part, lived unscathed. I am discriminated more for my disability than for my sexuality. I think this is partly due to the fact that I have not made my sexuality an issue. It is, as it is for most people, only one part– and peripheral at that– of my life. No doubt the reason I have enjoyed a level of acceptance is because I do not engage in– in fact, I disdain–many of the behaviors that are stereotypical of gay males. Ironically, this has made life more difficult among my own community–I am often accused of being homophobic when I voice my disapproval of “the gay lifestyle.” Alex himself once chastised me when I showed no interest in going to the bath houses. “It’s your culture,” he said, “It’s your right as a gay man.” Perhaps, but it has always been a facet of “gay culture” that has repulsed me, as it does most straight people once you explain to them what it is (though they seem to find it equally fascinating). Straight people understand things gay people don’t seem to get–like you don’t have sex in the public restrooms– and gays and lesbians still have much to learn from their hetero brothers and sisters. And heterosexuals have much to learn from us. And they will– and we will– in time. And– in time– there will, hopefully, be mutual acceptance.

In the meantime, look on the bright side, Alex: Somehow (one can only guess how), you are managing to live in Paris and travel all over Europe (France, Germany, Portugal, Italy…yeah, it’s a rough life you’re living. I feel real sorry for ya. Break out the violins and weep). I’m sorry, but for all appearances, intents and purposes, Mr. Blaze, you are a middle-class white boy. The world loves you and will gladly hand you anything you ask for, as you are well aware. You have a lot of nerve to bitch about oppression as if you had a fucking clue what it meant to be oppressed. When were you ever denied an opportunity, or anything you wanted, based on simply who you are?

Trust me, things could be worse. There are more pressing problems in the world– war, the economy, unemployment just to name a few. Being called a fag– especially when you are a fag– is not real high on the list.

Does Alex (or anyone else) deserve to be harassed simply for being who they are? Certainly not. I am merely questioning the root of this harassment. Fear of the other is fear of the unknown, and– more frequently– fear of the self. Understood and eduacated, this fear is easily erradicated.

NOTE: The word “fag” is meant to be expository rather than derogatory. I believe the word should be accepted and embraced just as the term “queer,” has been.

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