I’ve had this gripe before and while sometimes the annoying burn is just a smoldering of ashes the smallest bit of kindle can set the flame ablaze once more into a roaring fire. What is that smoldering ash, you ask? Stupid heterosexual men and their cat calls.
Yesterday I was leaving work walking down West Broadway in SoHo and an older man yelled out, “Yeah, baby those are some sexy lips” to which I responded, “Really, dude? That’s rude, fuck off” and then he yells, “Yeah, you’ll get fucked, bitch!”
Hmm. How to respond? My immediate reaction was to whip around and march over to him sitting on his milk crate and remind him that he was an utter ass because his remarks were not only sexist, rude, and unwarranted but that they were lost on me because I’m a big ol homo. Furthermore, any woman walking down the street deserves the respect and courtesy of enjoying her walk down a street without getting harassed by old fuckers like him.
I just don’t read lesbian outside of a lesbian venue. There’s nothing about me that reads overtly straight either in my opinion. Outside of the work environment I opt for a relaxed and casual style of dress that is usually not a dress. If were to run into me on the street I’d be wearing skinny jeans like every other New Yorker, a graphic t-shirt, either Havianas or Jack Purcells, over-sized ear phones listening to Le Tigre, Tegan and Sara, Fiest, Sleater Kinney, Tracey Chapman, or Rent. I carry a giant white leather purse, wear over-sized sunglasses and usually have a scarf wrapped around my neck-winter or summer. My natural hair is always a mess on top of my head and you’ll never, ever catch me wearing makeup unless it’s purposefully, like for Pride or some girl dancing when I want to femme it up a bit. If a gay girl, or girl I perceive to be gay walks my way and she’s hot I’ll make eye contact over my glasses and shoot her a smile. I’ve often turned to keep eye contact until it becomes inappropriate and continue on my walk. No one is ever going to scream homophobic slurs at me unless I’m holding my girlfriend’s hand (which has happened)so basically I’m a homo-undercover.
I had chat with one of my best friends, Dez, last night over $3 Vodka drinks at Fat Max on the LES about this very issue of looking “gay” or “not gay” Dez screams lesbian, no, she screams dyke. She’s got the hair, the tattoos, the swagger, the plaid shirts, low-slung jeans, awesome sneakers and bike messenger bag. It is no secret that Dez, my former Friend Crush, is amazing and I love her to no end. She’s a producer for a major animation studio,an animator, biker, (single),and all-around best hugger I’ve ever met. Walking down the street with her I can feel my gay go up at least 20 notches and I’m comfortable with the world knowing that there are two dykes walking down the street.
Her gripe is quite different from mine, there’s nothing she can do about her blatant gayness, it’s there for the entire world to see. She sees it as a hurdle to overcome, especially in the work place. Almost a strike against her. The likelihood of her getting called “sexy lips” on the street is pretty slim. Rather, the likelihood of her getting harassed for being gay is higher. So who wins? There are things I cannot hide from the world. I am black and I am a woman. With these DD’s there’s no binding that’s going to cover my gender and no make up on the planet that’s going to disguise my color. My sexuality, on the other hand, is covered up in the general public’s understanding or comfort level of what it means to be a lesbian. To the general public lesbians are butch and those of us who don’t are somehow, not really gay and therefore subject to public harassment.
If I pass as not gay is it my responsiblity to try to educate all straight men who cat call about women’s rights, equality, and general respect? If I come off gay is it my responsibility to educate all homophobes about identity, equality, civil rights, and respect? Those questions can’t be answered because it’s almost always impossible to level with an ignorant person, which is why when the asshole on West Broadway screamed, “Yeah, you’ll get fucked, bitch” I chose to ignore his disgusting and hateful remarks and instead imagined doing him physical harm.
**I just took a break from this post to retrieve my laundry and had an older Rasta man make kissing noises at me as I passed him. **