When Was The Last Time You Felt Unsafe? 17 People At NYC Pride Share Their Answers
After the horrific Orlando shooting at Pulse nightclub this June, one of the things that struck me most was how many of our LGBTQ writers at Bustle were pointing out that, while the massacre was horrific and violated their sense of security, feeling unsafe was already familiar for them. Having to be aware of your surroundings and on alert was already an everyday way of moving through the world. To be queer was to be in danger — no matter how progressive your city.
One Bustle writer, Zachary Zane, put it this way: "As a bisexual man, I’ve dated both men and women. Last Pride, I attended with my now-ex girlfriend. This Pride, I attended with my current boyfriend. The experience was undoubtedly different...Whenever I walk down the street with my boyfriend, he likes to hold my hand. I like to hold his too, but whenever I do, my pulse beats faster, and my eyes dart back and forth. I become immediately more aware of my surroundings. When he kisses me goodbye, I always check behind me afterwards to see if there are any nasty glances. More so, I look to see if I’m in danger, if someone is going to attack me because I stole a brief peck on the lips from the man I love." Women also pointed out how safety is a ever-present concern. Bustle writer Mariella Mostoff wrote, "I once kissed a masculine of center person goodbye at my subway stop in broad daylight the morning after a date, and someone spit at us. I already knew that displays of affection towards a feminine-presenting person as a feminine-presenting person myself would also court leering sexual violence."
So when I attended the Pride Parade in New York City on Sunday, I knew one of the questions that I wanted to ask people right away: "When was the last time you felt unsafe, just for being who you are?" What was interesting to me was that, perhaps because of the context of the day, straight women were hesitant to share their answer, for fear it "didn't count." When I explained that women also know the feeling of being unsafe and that I wasn't only searching for LGBTQ answers to the question, they often revealed some truly horrific harassment stories. The discrimination and sense of danger LGBTQ people experience is distinct, but oppression, as always, is intersectional.
Joel, 17, Gender Fluid
They added, "Being a pansexual, gender fluid person in an extremely religious and conservative household, the first words after the shooting I heard from my family were, 'Get ready for stricter gun laws and a very sad town.' That's when I knew I can't come out to my family, because they put gun laws ahead of people."
Yulissa, 19, Female
"When a guy called me and my girlfriend faggot because we were holding hands [crossing the street] and revved his car like he was going to hit us. He said, 'You voting for Bernie Sanders? Trump for president."
Stacey, 25, Queer
"Taking a walk with my girlfriend after Orlando."
Rich, 24, Gay Cis Man
Alime, 18, "Outspoken Woman"
Amanda, 23, Gay Woman
"Yesterday, when I was called 'faggot' for the first time."
Bob, 79, Ally
"When I was taunted for being Jewish as a kid."
Rachel, 22, Gay
"The first time I went to a club after the Orlando attack."
Brandy, 15, Lesbian
"When I walk through a group of guys and they look at me." She added, "I don't know what they're looking at or thinking, so I just cross the street to avoid it."
Jess, 29, Woman
"Last night, being hit on at bars as a woman." She added, "that sounds like a humble brag, but it's true."
Joesph, 49, Gay
"First time I thought about dancing after Orlando."
Sam, 17, Bisexual
"On the subway this moring because of guys looking at my shirt." (It said, "Drink with me to days gone bi".)
Paul, 59, Gay
Joanna, 23, "Low-Key Bi"
"Right now. [I'm] Bi. Femme. Filipina."
Virmary, 27, Straight
"Pervert took his penis out while I was in [an] elevator."
Arianna, 24, Ally
She added, "I texted my parents the coordinates of where I am today, just in case anything happens."
Images: Rachel Krantz/Bustle