View Full Version : Personal Violence
06-14-2006, 05:49 PM
I've had a few conversations lately in which someone said "I dno't know why gay people are so upset. It's not like there's a lot of violence toward them - just extreme cases here and there." I was shocked that people would think this way and had a few stories to share about experience in my short time of being out.
Well here it is: tell us all about things that people said, did, etc. because you are GLBT. When people say nothing really bad happens to GLBT people and that the violence is all imagined, I'm sure we all have stories... share yours.
06-14-2006, 06:15 PM
Through social, political, and religious oppression they seek to rob us of our own humanity. In my eyes there is no greater violence one person can do onto another.
06-14-2006, 07:35 PM
I can't believe people really don't know this by now, but it's true, they don't. They aren't told.
WE have to tell people that things do happen, or they won't know, just like these people you've talked to, Mia. Heck, I've met out gay people who didn't know about their lack of legal protections. Back before Lawrence v Texas I got into an argument with a gay friend who told me my passion for gay activism made no sense since "nothing could happen." We aregued for quite some time. It took for-freaking-ever to explain Bowers versus Hardwick to him, but when he finally understood, he was horrified and stamping his feet in rage. I think there is a LOT of unawareness, and not all of it amongst straight folk. (There was an awful tragedy in my own family b/c a couple didn't take the proper precautions surrounding property inheritance/wills.)
If you're collecting stories to tell your acquaintances when they say they don't know why anyone is upset (:mad: :mad: :mad: :mad: :mad: ) you can add:
I was thrown out of an apartment when in my very early 20s by a landlord with "moral values." Those values obviously included making a young full-time student homeless as punishment for having some "gay" newspapers and magazines inside the apartment. NO notice - just a creepy note and pieces of paper with his name on them, left in strange places all around the apartment (the closet, the bed, INSIDE the oven and fridge). Yes and this was a landlord with a key to the place where I slept!
He literally stood over me, scowling with his arms folded over his chest, while I grabbed stuff out of there and ran up and down the stairs taking my belongings to the car. My mantra for as long as he stood there staring at me:
"Do not cry, Zerbie, do NOT cry."
Didn't cry til I had piled up my car and driven around the block. Parked a block away, trembling with terror and sobbing over the steering wheel, wondering where on earth to GO for the night, and how I would find a new apartment with the $400 total savings I possessed. Actually heard myself say out loud,
"It must be true then. God DOES hate me. God wants me to die."
I was thinking about suicide for a month. After all, if God wanted me to live, I would have a safe home. I was a "good" responsible tenant who kept to myself. I hadn't DONE anything, no, my "being" was so bad I didn't deserve the basic necessities of life. God had shown me that through my landlord.
Had to go back and stay with my parents for a few months. Never dared tell them what had happened, I was too ashamed. Once I *did* find a new place to rent, I had nightmares regularly about the landlady finding me out and throwing me out with nowhere to go. It kept me out of activism for a few years. I didn't lose my intense fear of being homeless and living out of a box until we bought our house 18 months ago. Ever since that episode, I knew how easily someone could do that to me, and it wouldn't matter how responsible or "good" I was. All that's necessary is the thought that I might be gay. Hell, straight people should know it could happen to THEM if somebody just *thinks" they're gay. A landlord doesn't have to be right about you being gay to evict you for it. And most places of this country, they can legally get away with it.
06-14-2006, 09:11 PM
O wow Zerbie, what a terrible story. How brave you must be to go through that and still be your kind self.. I'm so glad you've a safe spot now. You may have grown and be in a place within yourself now that perhaps you wouldn't cower in front of that awful landlords behaviour if it happened today - but I'm sure that there are others who are still there, and may take courage from your story. I'm glad you typed it out for them.
The courage of LG people who go through what we go through and remain dignified keeps astounding me, even though I see examples all the time.
How amazing that people can say that, Mia. A politician here recently said about the marriage debate - "Gay people are treated well in this country, because homosexuality isn't illegal here, and you should be grateful". Sure I can be grateful I don't live in a country where I would be hanged or stoned, thank you God - that doesn't mean I'm grateful for only being treated as a half-citizen. Another politician here in parliament today, said that to equate gay marriage with straight marriage is "repugnant". What a word to use!..
What these people don't realise is that words can be terribly violent, though not physically so. Violence to the soul is wrong too.
06-15-2006, 10:30 AM
I agree with nowvoyager, about the damage that words can do as equally as physical violence at times. For me, although I have never been physically harmed or threatened, or thrown out of an apartment or job, like Zerbie, I have heard my share of the cutting remarks, name calling, and the jokes. I remember a few months after coming out to a friend of mine, who I thought was pretty progressive in her views, sent me an email lesbian joke that was so vulgar and offensive I could not believe it. I never confronted her about it, but it always made me wonder how "okay" she was actually, to think such a joke would be appropriate to tell, let alone tell me. Sometimes I think some members of the general population think we are too "sensitive" in how we respond to things. Many of them still do not understand the pervasive, underlying attitudes of homophobia and heterosexism that exist in this country, and around the world for that matter. The message that many people send us is that we are flawed, diseased, or sick because of who we are, and that we need to be "fixed". That can do irreparable harm to a person's being. Vanessa :love:
06-15-2006, 11:56 AM
Thank you Voyager and Vanessa. :love:
Yes, absolutely! The emotional/spiritual "violence" (or harm, for those define violence as physical) is the worst of it. That was the worst part of the whole crazy landlord problem! (Though I have to say, if I were in the same situation now I don't see how I could respond any differently. I contacted lawyers, they told me there was No Case. And with only $400, I didn't exactly have many options (I was using the lawyers the university provides its students in emergencies.) Had I insisted on staying there, how could I rest knowing a crazy man had a key to get in?
Re: the original question, I *do* think for some (many?) non-LBGTs, we need to present them with scenarios they can visualize, like a kid thrown out of home, or a college student thrown out of an apartment with little or no $ and no place to go, like people being fired from their jobs, thrown out of houses they've lived in for decades when a partner dies - THAT sort of thing, in order for the wheels in their heads to turn and *click*, they "get" that yes there ARE problems. Telling non LGBTs that it's emotionally or spiritually hard may rely too much on the imagination for some straight people. Recite some concrete examples for those unable to imagine the emotional trials.
That said, it's worth repeating that the emotional devastation that can occur IS the worst part. Who would want to go through life always wary of rejection from peers, colleagues, and non-comprehension from family at every turn? the emotional stress is enormous, and it is long-term. Like Vanessa's example, it's disturbing.
Once during a conversation with an acquaintance, things took a turn to where he thought he had to either lie, or come out when he did not intend to. (I had told him I wanted to go to his "men's chorus" concert the next day, and he didn't know that I knew already it was a gay men's chorus.) He had a meltdown right in front of me. He couldn't even look at my face when he told me, and he kept stammering that I probably thought he was disgusting and offensive to God. I tried to protest. He wouldn't let me get a word in, he ran off with tears forming in his eyes rather than listen to my response or even look up from the floor. I felt heartsick for 24 hours. Then when I showed up in the greenroom after his concert he almost fell over with shock. I always think that episode relates really well how much emotional stress some people in our community carry around with them on a regular basis. The way he rejected himself FOR me! God.
vBulletin® v3.8.4, Copyright ©2000-2013, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.