Gay Panic and Other Misadventures

It is impossible for me to be calm about this. I admire people who can feel strongly and remain articulate, collected, seemingly not flipped out. I wish I had that superpower. Well, that and and the empathy wand: “Oh yeah? You think that bitch had it coming? Wham. Well, there you go. No, don’t cry, don’t be a little girl about it, fucker. Cause ‘that bitch’ feels like you’re feeling now every day.”

But enough about superpowers. Pandagon reports that even going on ten years into the twenty-first century, the penalty for being gay is still death. Oh, and robbery, evidently. The basic outline of the story stands as: guy falls asleep, guy comes to in his living room with a man attempting to fellate him, guy picks up handy baseball bat and nearly beats the life out of unwanted-attention-giver, guy shoves the body in the trunk of u-a-g’s own vehicle, guy steals u-a-g’s credit card, guy goes on shopping spree and flies to Texas while u-a-g bleeds to death in aforementioned trunk.

Oh, right. Guy sentenced to a maximum of 15 years for manslaughter. Poor guy.

There’s a funny split amongst commenters. I suppose I should give a little respect to the fellas who are tentatively mentioning that we can’t, collectively, dismiss guy’s claim that he was being assaulted. Okay. A little respect. Because it’s probably not easy for you to give your incredibly naive viewpoint in a potentially hostile environment. I get that you think I’m dismissing guy because he’s – you know – a guy. When in fact that doesn’t come into my judgement until lower down on the list, after “you were so fucking traumatized you stole your attacker’s credit cards and went fucking shopping???” and “I see, so you’re saying you regularly gay-bash just for the sake of robbery, but this one time robbery was merely the icing on the cake, after you were almost forced to receive a blow job, right”.

I don’t want to bring the “r” word into this, because to do so would be to trivialize everything I believe to be true about the many and frequently fucked up ways that people deal with physical assaults in their lives. People do crazy things in the name of coping, of healing, of getting through the goddamn day. What I’m saying is this: here we have a human being who killed another human being and went shopping. Put all the other stuff aside. I think there are moments when you do what you need to do to survive, when adrenaline hits and you find yourself in a situation you never expected to be in, perhaps doing something you absolutely never expected to do, and for most of us I hope killing another person is on that list. There are a lot of ways we deal with that kind of situation. Shopping with stolen credit cards, though, seems a tad bit cavalier, if you’re going to make the case to me that you’ve also just survived a sexual assault on your person. Those pieces do not add up to “I will never recover the slam on my dignity that was a man picturing my naked ass”.

Gay panic’s not about justifying one deed in the name of reaction to another. Gay panic’s about justifying a whole slew of potential future violent acts with the excuse that what someone else is cannot be tolerated. Is there a similar condition for my continued exposure to extreme religious conviction while in the course of my duties as a barista? Is there a line, somewhere, that, when crossed, would justify my throwing an entire pitcher of extra-hot no foam nonfat into the eyes of the woman who tells me, serenely, that Jesus is my savior? Because I am filled with rage. Because I don’t want to have to see people like you in my daily life, I don’t need any reminders that you exist. And I don’t want any of what you’ve got rubbing off on me.

I get panic. I get rage. And then, presumably, I get arrested. What I don’t get is a jury – many juries – coming to the same conclusion, again and again: it’s okay to kill queers. Well, not okay, exactly, but – well, we understand. They’re so – it’s just all so distasteful, isn’t it?

Isn’t it?