This past weekend, I experienced my first homophobic interaction. A week ago, today, my dad turned the big 6-0. My mom has planned surprise parties for my dad at 40 and 50, but this year we dialed it back a bit and opted to get together on a Friday night at a bar close to my parent’s house. My mom invited friends and family and whoever else wanted to come celebrate my dad. We are no stranger to this bar as it’s a common watering hole for my parents, we even celebrated there after Team 27’s engagement.
Everyone was having a great night – my dad especially.
The live music started around 10pm. Now, I love to dance. I love to dance any time of the day, but the desire to dance is extremely intensified after a couple of drinks. I can gladly hunker down on the dance floor for a full night. Since it was my dad’s birthday, I resisted the urge to spend the whole night there. But once the dance floor filled up, I grabbed Steph and said, “let’s go dance for a bit!”
We headed to the dance floor, blissfully unaware about what was going to happen next. We made our way into the crowd and started dancing along with everyone else that was around us. I was pretty happy that it was a cover band and I could also sing along. There were three people to the left of us, one gentleman and another couple who looked like they were in their mid-60s. We were all smiling and dancing and having a good time when the gentleman looked at us and said, “are you two lesbians?” Steph smiled back at him and happily said, “we’re married!”. He smiled and went back to dancing. But the same cannot be said for the other couple.
We were instantly met with looks of absolute disgust while they whispered to each other, continued to shoot dirty looks our way and then completely shunned us. I was stunned. It’s hard to capture the sheer loathing this couple had for us. I can’t remember a time in my life where I’ve experienced that much hate and disgust and an instant change in someone’s demeanour. In a single moment, this couple’s perspective of us shifted from fun people dancing with them, to completely worthless human beings.
I don’t deal with hate very well. I don’t understand it. I don’t understand how someone can genuinely believe that they are better than someone else. Or that I’m less of a person because of who I love. I could go on a rampage about hate and discrimination for hours because unfortunately it’s still so prevalent in our world, but I’ll stick with what happened to us.
Things got uncomfortable for a few minutes.
I laughed it off with Steph because on one hand, it’s hilarious that they were dancing with us and all of a sudden they now have a huge issue with us even being on the dance floor. It’s not like we were making out. We’re also two of the most loving people you’ll ever meet, so screw you if you want to be mean to us. And! I was also raised not to give a shit about what other people think. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been and I’m not letting anyone rain on that parade.
But then on the other hand, I was furious. And sad. And hurt. And belittled. These are the type of people that perpetuate the cycle of hate. This was not okay.
I am fully aware that this experience pales in comparison to what so many other people have been through. I know the stories of violence, abuse, hazing and so much else that comes with hate and discrimination. But this was a first for me. And it rattled me.
We continued to dance despite myself being somewhat distracted. Steph can make me laugh no matter what mood I’m in or no matter what I’ve just encountered. So, we smiled and danced away while this couple stared from a distance, including the rest of their friends into their circle of disgust. As the lady continued to stare at us, Steph’s dancing finger guns turned quickly to middle-finger-guns as we tried to brush off the discomfort. She quickly returned the middle-finger-guns with a snarky look on her face. Eventually we walked away, heading back to our table of family and friends who are all loving and supportive. After a few minutes of hanging out at the table, I felt a fire light inside of me and I thought…nope. This hateful group of people are not going to shame us off the dance floor when we aren’t doing anything wrong.
I grabbed Steph’s hand and led us back to the dance floor. Our wonderful new group of friends were still there…still staring…still hating. We tried to brush it off and get back to dancing, but the situation escalated and clearly there wasn’t going to be any mutual agreements to leave each other alone. We decided there wasn’t any reason to ruin our good moods by staying in an environment that wasn’t inviting.
As we were walking away, my inner 12-year-old came barrelling out of me. I fiercely walked up to the lady, who had spent the last 20 minutes making sure we knew she hated us, and told her that I hoped her grandchildren were gay. (Very mature of me – I know).
I wish that for her. Not so that she can experience hurt or so she could make someone else uncomfortable, but so she could understand what it means. That Steph and I are no different than anyone else in the room. We love each other, that’s it. I don’t even care if she chooses to accept same-sex relationships or if she is happy about them. But don’t be hateful, because that can’t be tolerated.