Bathroom Progress
Did it!

A tale of how homophobia messes stuff up for everyone

I was on the subway this morning riding to work, when an odd thing happened.

I'm sitting (ya, that is odd, but that's not the point of this story) and the orientation of the seats is such that I am perpendicular to other passengers.  Directly in my line of site are two 20-something women, and one of them is sporting a nice looking chartreuse messenger bag.  I like chartreuse and I like bags, so I was looking at it.  

Thing is, the girls were holding hands on top of this bag.  And when one of the pair made eye contact with me, she thought I was checking out the hand holding so she looked me right in the eye, grabbed her girl's hand and licked it rather provocatively.

I instinctively turned away and then looked back and said: "I like your bag".  They look at me, and we're all laughing a bit nervously.  She says thanks and I say "I didn't mean to make you upset" and we laugh a bit more.

It this had been a heterosexual couple none of this would have happened.  I could be thought rude for checking out the bag, but there wouldn't be this latent sense that I *might* be judging a couple riding to work together for holding hands.  

There wouldn't be that direct confrontation or the nervous laughter.  

I wouldn't feel a teeny bit bad for making them feel uncomfortable and they wouldn't feel a teeny bit bad for being defensive about their relationship.

That's how homophobia messes stuff up for everyone.  Even in everyday life riding the subway to work, checking out people's accessories.

The only thing I would have liked to told them was: "I like that you're in love too".  


That just made me choke up. Thanks for posting this, you.

It is indeed so stupid how it messes it up for everyone. I was on a Viva bus once sitting across from two women who were clearly together, just the three of us in the back of a very empty bus. And unfortunately, there was just as clearly this little selfconscious dance going on among us, where they were unwilling (as they quite rightly should be) to censure their relationshipping just because I was there, but weren't sure if I was cool with that and whether they'd have to turn confrontational at any point (with, say, some handlicking). Meanwhile, I was just thinking how great it was that they were going about their lives (as they quite rightly should) just as a hetero couple would in the same situation. But I was also conscious that I didn't want to seem conscious about it (oh, the irony) because I just wanted them to have a totally relaxing ride without any worries that they'd have to get political...ugh. What a nightmare. All three of us were tense for NO REASON. Although at least that dissipated later in the ride when we ended up doing a bit of chatting. But ridiculously unnecessary!

Congratulations on the seat score, though.

Thanks also for posting this. Nice story. :)

This reminds me of how much happier a friend of mine is now that he is out. It really wasn't a big surprise for anyone who knew him and now there isn't that weird "elephant in the room" whenever we get together.

Awwww, thanks for this, Steph.

You handled that really well. I probably would have said nothing and been sad about the misunderstanding but not know how to right it.

Well, our discomfort with each other extends beyond sexuality. Years back, in Boston, I had been shopping for many months for a color of nylons I could wear with anything. Something beautiful, taupey, goldy, little bit browny but not too dark because of my general light ivory complexion, some imaginary color-- I knew I'd know the perfect shade when I saw it. So this particular day, on the Green Line trolley, I was gazing down at the floor lost in thought when suddenly I saw the NYLON COLOR right there in front of me on the legs of the woman sitting across from me. My brain and mouth were forming the excited words, "Oh my goodness, that's the EXACT shade of nylons I've been searching for, will you PLEASE tell me who makes them and where you get them..." and somehow, before I made a fool of myself, my brain registered the fact that the lady was African American and she wasn't wearing any nylons! By then we had made I contact and what she got from me was a weak smile and I'm sure she thought I was some kind of idiot loser for staring at her legs and then looking excitedly into her eyes and then shutting up. Point of the story, because of I-don't-know-what, I wasn't able to tell her, "You won't believe what I just thought, is the joke ever on me, etc..." We are divided in so many ways and it is sad.

"I contact" = "eye contact," of course. Silly me.

Lovely story.

Maybe a generation thing, but I find it odd YOU didn't find the "hand licking" offensive. Does the fact they are gay excuse rude behaviour?

Thank you for sharing. Maybe sharing your story will allow for one less uncomfortable encounter?

I have to agree with Marilyn, I find the hand licking thing offensive. Since I can never keep my mouth shut I would probably have said in my best/worst motherly voice, "I was admiring your bag and your obvious love for each other. There was no reason for you to be rude." I get myself into a lot of trouble!

But you handled the situation beautifully....thanks for the inspiring story

I'm impressed with how you handled yourself. I'm not sure that I would have handled it quite the same way.

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