The Huddle: Our Stories of Homophobic Harassment

With all the major strides we take towards equality, sometimes backlash happens. Sometimes people are awful and angry, and take that fear out on total strangers. We know that this is a difficult subject, but have you ever faced anti-gay harassment on the street or in a public place? How did you handle it?


Marcie Bianco: Beside being kicked out of a bar in England with my lez friends there was a time—when I was much thinner and had a shaved head—that I was out on a run and some tweenage kids were like “What is it?” and I stopped and turned around and I yelled, “It is a girl, motherfuckers!” So, yeah, that.

Dara Nai: I’ve experienced far more racism than I have anti-gay harassment. In fact, I can’t remember ever experiencing homophobic grossness, but I’ve been called chink many, many times. 

Erin Wilson: Thankfully I have never experienced any violence towards me because I gay. I have had plenty of stares and rude comments but none of that gets to me: I am more sad for that person than I am for myself. I will say being from a state where I could be fired from my job because I was gay, was more upsetting to me than a rude comment from an ignorant stranger.  

Trish Bendix: As a femme, I tend to pass as straight in the heteronormative world we live in. But because my partners are more masculine, I get more negative attention when I’m with them. The only time I’ve ever been called a dyke was when I’ve been with a partner, and I was almost thrilled to have been seen as a lesbian that I wasn’t that upset about it. I guess it was because I didn’t feel too unsafe in the moment—it was a homeless man asking “Are you dykes?” in an oddly sincere way, like he just wanted to know. Anyway, I proudly said, “Yeah, so?!” 

But then a few months ago, I did something against my better judgment and went to a house in the Hollywood Hills with my (straight) sister. She was visiting from Chicago and a male friend invited her over to his  (male) friend’s house. My sister begged my girlfriend and I to go with her, and I thought it had bad vibes written all over it. My sister told us it was totally safe and the house was beautiful—we should really see it. It’d be fun! I didn’t want to assume the worst (#notallmen right?) and be a total pill so I finally agreed to go. It was around 10 p.m. and the house was clearly a party haven for 20-something privileged aspiring rappers who bragged about the women they had coming over to do things I will not repeat in this forum because I am a lady.
I could tell it was not going to go well as soon as they spoke about the women they knew and the highly sexual positions they put themselves in by just hanging around these dudes. So when they suggested we play Truth or Dare and immediately dared my girlfriend to “suck my titty,” I was more than uncomfortable and obviously we said HELL NO. When my girlfriend left the room, one of the “rappers” asked me, “That your boyfriend?” I said, “She’s my girlfriend.” “You always date women?” he asked. “Yep,” I said. “I’m a lesbian.” “So it’s for real then? It’s like that?” “Yep,” I said. “It’s like that.”
I told my sister and girlfriend it was time to leave. We’d been there less than an hour and the guys chided us for being no fun. Then my girlfriend and sister were downstairs and I was waiting by the door when the same guy came into the room and dropped his drawers with his dick out and said “Hey look at it. Just look at it. See what you’re missing.” I refused at first. “No thank you!” And he continued until I finally looked at him and said “I see it—nope, not missing anything!” And the rest of the group came back in the room as he pulled up his pants and I couldn’t get out the door fast enough. My sister, having no idea what happened, told me that as she left, he told her “My mission is to get your sister back on dick.” When we were safely in the car I told them what happened, and, for the first time, felt something close to what victims of any kind of sexual assault must feel. I started to curse myself for putting myself into a bad position—I should have listened to my gut and known this was a terrible idea. I had to remind myself that even if I did ignore my instincts, he had no right to do and say what he did, and that my being a lesbian isn’t some kind of challenge or threat to him—he’s the threatening one.
The incident shook me up. It was the first time I’d really had anyone insult me in such a disgusting way, and made me even more aware of the kinds of sexual violence and corrective rapes that lesbian women face around the globe that are clearly much more dangerous and on an even larger scale. I had the ability to leave the situation, whereas so many women do not. It was a reminder that even though I have the “privilege” of passing, and therefore receive less harassment on a daily basis compared to my butch/androgynous/genderqueer sisters, I am not immune to the bravado of men who think lesbianism can be cured with their (not even that big) penises.