I’ve been in Paris for a week now, and in those 7 days there have been as many incidents of anti-gay sentiment directed at me or people I was with. Day 1, I arrived from London in the Gare du Nord train station. I’m carrying my luggage and just as soon as I step out of the train and into the station so I can buy a metro ticket, this guy starts shouting “casse-toi!” or “fuck off” at me. No big deal, I’m thinking, though he was very loud and insistent with it. He REALLY wanted me to casse myself, everyone.
Then there was the guy who grabbed his dick at me while I was walking down the street in broad daylight. Harmless, right? Because gay men will take any and all dick ***eye roll*** Then there was the register bro (SUPER cute) at the Monoprix grocery store who was extremely dismissive, but that could either be because he hates his job, he’s Parisian, he hates gays, or all of that stuff rolled into one!
Then one night I was out having dinner with a friend and we were walking back to his car when out of nowhere these dudes drive by and shout “Oh la la!” at us.
The car makes it to the end of the block, turns around, and drives all the way back down to where we are. They roll the windows down.
“Is that you’re boyfriend?,” the one guy hisses at my friend. “He’s really cute.” Let me tell you, these guys aren’t looking for blowjobs.
My friend, getting more aggressive, says “No” and all of a sudden they start talking about how they saw him at some club once, that my friend sucked him off at this club, does he remember. Of course he doesn’t because it didn’t happen. Anyway, they stay in their cars and we make it in ours and we pull off.
Then I was at a McDonald’s with another friend, everything was cool. Enjoying our hamburgers n shit. These two guys came up stairs, saw us, and immediately said, “Hey look, they’re gay. There go some gays.” They are loud and insistent about it. One of them says, “Moi je suis pas homophobe” and his other friend is like, “Moi je suis homophobe.” Laughter. My friend starts engaging them, something I would never do, and they come over to our table and tell us that a child needs a mom and a dad, that I’m already black, a minus, do I really want to add being gay to that, too?
Call me a masochist, but I was actually quite interested in what the guy had to say. He was trying to debate with me about being gay because I was black, though he obviously didn’t go about it in the most elegant way. It was like he was totally disinterested in my white gay friend.
Then, of course, Clément Méric, a young political activist was assassinated by some neo-Nazi’s, right in the middle of Paris.
And I’ve only been here a week.
But despite all these unfortunate incidents of stupid behavior, I don’t feel specifically unsafe in Paris. Hell, somebody got shot in the face in the gay area of NYC not too long ago. Sure, I’m a little bit more cautious now, but I don’t feel any sense of impending danger. The homophobia I’m talking about is more of a feeling than anything else, a thick, choking cloud in the air, the residue of several gigantic and well-organized protests against the legalization of gay marriage and gay adoption.
And yet, I see FABULOUS faggots and lesbians ALL THE TIME. Seriously. They are everywhere. Yesterday I saw a guy and a girl at my grocery store with half shaved heads and neon ombré dip dyed hair and I was all, “Wait where are YOU guys going?” Then I went to this party on Saturday called Flash Cocotte that was absolutely bursting at the seems with faggots and dykes in their fiercest looks. Everyone was TRES LOOKE, including this girl who just wore pasties, no bra/shirt, sequin shorts and stilettos!
And I say yes!
I know it sounds crazy, but seeing those gays who are putting themselves out there much more than I am makes me feel at ease. But it also makes me sad, because I purposefully left my most ridiculous stuff in the US.
Gay people moving through social space are never free from hate or homophobia. Anywhere. There is no place where gays are ever 100% safe. Some hate-filled idiots even go to gay places in search of people to beat up. That’s why one way to combat homophobia is to keep living our lives the way we do. The key to resistance might just be not resisting.