It was a perfect summer night as I walked along Cambie St with my gorgeous new beau, sharing in the mutual excitement and delight of getting to know each other.
As we waited at a stoplight, the feel of his warm fingers interlaced with mine brought me a rare and exquisite peace. Our peaceful bubble, however, was burst when a beat-up old Volvo rounded the corner and one of the car’s unknown occupants screamed at us through one of the open windows, “Fags!”
The car and its occupants sped away and disappeared into the night. The incident lasted a few seconds but has stayed with me for days.
Living in Vancouver, a city where members of the queer community are highly visible, it came as a shock that I would hear from people who would take the energy to insult me for what seems to have become so commonplace.
I don’t even remember the last time some stranger called me a fag. Not surprisingly, I found this unusual event rather jarring, which may have made it that much more upsetting.
I didn’t know the word fag had so much power over me, at once turning my joy into fear and my happiness into shame.
Hearing the word fag shouted out of the mouths of random strangers conjured up for me the all too real worst-case scenarios of anti-gay hatred, violent attacks and murder. Whether or not it was intentional, theirs was an act of terrorism that struck down to my deepest feelings of alienation and fear.
I tried to think of some way that I could get back at them and make them feel the frustration and hurt with which they inflicted me. I felt powerless and wanted revenge.
In my fantasies, I wished that a group of gays could go into the straight world and bash their loved ones and teach them how it feels to be terrorized while at their most vulnerable.
However, as I considered this violent retaliation, I quickly came to see how perverse such acts of hatred really are. Gay or straight, I know how rare it is to find companionship and love, and know I could never willfully take that away from anyone.
It then dawned on me that my sensitivity and understanding set me apart from the cruel and perverse nature of the violent and hateful. As much as they had enraged me and hurt me, I found relief upon appreciating the fact that I really am better than them.
How did our expression of affection motivate them to attack us? Perhaps in their own individual experiences they had felt cheated out of their own needs for warmth and sexual expression. Thus, in seeing our happiness, they may have become frustrated and resentful toward us.
Or perhaps they felt the need to identify outwardly in us qualities that they’ve rejected and become fearful of within themselves.
Either way, their actions are fearful and pathetic reactions to our strength.
The hopelessly miserable will always attempt to bring the rest of us down to their level. Rather than reward our less-evolved oppressors such a victory, the best that we can do is continue to pursue happiness and joy in the face of their misery, and continue to expose to the rest of the world how warped and sad their hatred of our love and happiness really is.