Gay bashing is an expression used to designate verbal confrontation with, denigration of, or physical violence against people thought to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered (LGBT) because of their apparent sexual orientation or gender identity. Similar terms such as “lesbian bashing” or “queer bashing” may also be formed. A “bashing” may be a specific incident, or one could also use the verb “to bash” e.g. “I was gay bashed.” As there is no foolproof way to detect a person's sexual orientation, people sometimes fall victim even if they are not LGBT, should they be perceived to conform to the relevant stereotypes.
A verbal gay bashing might take place on any street corner and use sexual slurs, expletives, intimidation, or threats of violence — or, it might take place in a political forum and include one or more common anti-gay slogans. Passionate invective fits more closely into the general idea of gay bashing than does a calm, intellectual justification for anti-LGBT attitudes or policies. However, some people[who?] would include any expression of anti-LGBT sentiment in one or another category of “bashing”.
The term can also be applied to non-verbal acts of homophobia although that application is less common.
Most of the discrimination I've experienced has been on a societal level (second-class citizenship, denial of civil rights) or in the workplace (whispers, innuendo, slanderous comments, etc). I have the privilege of being white, educated and not “looking” like a stereotypical lesbian to shield me from the worst of public gay bashing. And I'm grateful b/c my experience on Friday was more bothersome that I realized.
We were walking down Smithfield Street a little before 1 PM when a car sort of rolled out of his parking space and almost hit us. I turned to look at the driver and he said “F***ing Dyke.” Typically, I avoid confrontration when people insult me in public, but for some reason I pivoted and walked right back to his car, asking him if I had just heard him call me a dyke. He got out of his car and loomed over me, probably a 350 lb man. I had no fear that he was doing anything but posturing so I chewed him out as did Ledcat as he repeated the slur. I didn't know what to do so I took a picture of his license plate and tried to get a shot of him.
Meanwhile, Eddie from Banner Coin Exchance was sweeping his walk and approached the scene. He told the man he knew us and asked him to be a gentleman and apologize. The man threw up his hands, saying he didn't want trouble and apologized. To Eddie. I immediately told him he needed to apologize to us and he mumbled something about not doing nothing for us. Eddie said he needed to apologize to us, but he got in his car and drove away.
We chatted with Eddie a few minutes and resumed our walk down Smithfield. Do you know that man circled the block so he could cruise by us one more time and shout the same slur out the window before screeching off?
Confronting him was probably foolish because while I was counting on the public street to deter any violence, there were no guarantees. I had just had enough. When I turned around, I immediately thought about the 6 members of County Council who voted no on the non-discrimination ordinance. Their (lack of) leadership in the realm of homophobia sets an example for this sort of individual behavior. I'm sure they would feign outrage, but protest that government cannot control private behavior. There's no way to know if this man pays attention to politics, but it isn't a big leap that the society which condones his disregard for women and lesbians, perhaps all gays, is the same society which condones permission for religious bodies of pious men and women who would never utter that phrase to discriminate against us, too.
I'm thin skinned enough that this man hurt my feelings. I couldn't shake it off because of the persistent feeling that he had the gonads to say what so many people feel in their hearts. Coupled with the realization that this was a very minor incident compared to the physical assault people experience, I spent the day dismayed and somewhat depressed.
Do people recognize the continuum of intolerance and dehumanization of sexual orientation and gender identity? Do they realize that leaders in our region use “fag” as a slur far behind the scenes and don't care who witnesses it (as long as it isn't the voters)? Do they get that Christianity is no excuse for hatred?
I bet that guy doesn't realize he can be tracked down and taken to the Magistrate thanks to my Crackberry. 🙂