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posted by [personal profile] bethofalltrades at 10:36pm on 27/04/2009 under
In Boston, walking home from the Mac store and tea with a friend. Three young black men passed me on Mass Ave and I heard one say, "And it doesn't matter if they call you a faggot. Let them. Keep your head down."

I walked a little faster so I could eavesdrop on their conversation. Nothing in their manner of dress screamed "gay," but there were the slightest societal indicators in their mannerisms. Gestures that said, yes, the one with the braids who was speaking was, and the tall, slightly chubby one he was speaking to certainly was, as was the tough, quiet one who walked just behind them as they argued. They were younger than I was, early college. Maybe high school. Kids.

"No, if they call me a faggot I'm gonna walk with my head up and say, 'So what? I AM gay!'"

"Then they'll jump you."

"Let them jump me! I'm gay, I'm not going to apologize for being gay!"

"Lower your voice."

"No! Look, if they called you a nigger, would you keep your head down?"

There was a long pause. The kid with the braids had no response.

"That's right," the tall one said, adjusting his backpack with a slight swagger of triumph. "No way am I gonna keep my head down."

"But they'll jump you---" the one with the braids began to argue, before the quiet one interrupted, speaking for the first time.

"And if they jump you, they jump a proud gay man. Even if they beat you, you win."

The three of them walked in silence for a moment. I thought about speaking to them, to tell them that I understood, but as we reached the corner the quiet one felt my eyes on him and turned and looked at me.

We stared at each other for a moment, then I ducked my head to him. He smiled and nodded back at me. In that moment, we both understood.

Someone asked me recently why I insist on labels. Why not just love, she said, without regard to the gender of the person? Why be so loud about it? I didn't have an answer until yesterday, in the car with Sean, when I was finally able to articulate that the reason it is important to me to use the label is that people have been fighting, sometimes even dying for it since before I was born.

I give it a name because there are still men who keep their heads down when someone calls them a faggot for fear of violence.

I give it a name because women are being raped and murdered in South Africa for being lesbians.

I give it a name because fifty years ago, no one could.

"And if they jump you, they jump a proud gay man."

Yes. This.

There are 38 comments on this entry. (Reply.)
posted by [identity profile] at 03:27am on 28/04/2009
This is a beautiful story... thanks for sharing, Beth.
posted by [identity profile] at 03:34am on 28/04/2009
That was so beautiful, it gave me chills. Thank you.
posted by [identity profile] at 03:38am on 28/04/2009
This story is exactly what I needed today. Awesome.
posted by [identity profile] at 03:48am on 28/04/2009
my favorite beth-blog yet.
posted by [identity profile] at 03:54am on 28/04/2009
This was beautiful. It brought tears to my eyes. Thank you
posted by [identity profile] at 04:01am on 28/04/2009
Yes. This.

This is a particularly difficult topic for me, just at the moment.I'm facing a fight for custody of my ten-year old son, and I'm going to have to decide whether or not I'm brave enough to fight it. That I'm involved in a serious romantic relationship with another woman is, I imagine, going to be a talking point at the very least.

But I'm sick of hiding and I don't have anything to be ashamed of.
posted by [identity profile] at 03:26pm on 28/04/2009
You are brave enough! As long as you have someone to hold your hand, who cares what other people say? *hug*
posted by [identity profile] at 04:30am on 28/04/2009
Thank you so much for sharing this. It really made me pause and and then sigh with a smile that can only be described as the "understanding" you mentioned.

I hope you don't mind that I am about to add you, I don't add people I do not know but I've added you to my twitter and I really enjoy your updates and now, your blog.

posted by [identity profile] at 04:33am on 28/04/2009
That was lovely.
posted by [identity profile] at 04:50am on 28/04/2009
This just made me weep.

In part because I had a similar conversation in regards to pride with a black female friend of mine a few days ago. We were discussing differences and the more common similarities between the fights in our lives, and she said something along the lines of, "Pretty much the only difference here is that people can look at me and see what I am right away. That doesn't make hatred any different. That's why we need pride. That's why we need to love ourselves to continue fighting the same fight that our ancestors, blood-related or simply cultural, have fought for many years. To stamp out their hatred with our love because we are just too strong to keep out."

I like thinking about that. :)

Thanks, Beth.
posted by (anonymous) at 05:16am on 28/04/2009
You are a wise woman Beth and the world needs more women like you.
posted by [identity profile] at 06:11am on 28/04/2009
YES. this.

touched a spot that's been raw recently. i want to give that boy a hug.
posted by [identity profile] at 06:35am on 28/04/2009
Most excellent. I'm proud of them.
posted by [identity profile] at 06:38am on 28/04/2009
But he (she) would still get jumped.

I hope one day none of this will matter any more (although with mankind being what it is, I fear human beings will always find petty reasons to assault their neighbours).
posted by [identity profile] at 03:28pm on 28/04/2009
There will always be at least one person scared and ready to jump someone for being different, we just have to hope there are enough OTHER people to keep that from happening.
posted by [identity profile] at 04:56am on 30/04/2009
Which is why Beth's story is such a great one.
And this letter (
posted by [identity profile] at 06:38am on 28/04/2009
I love your stories so much, Beth. Always beautifully articulated.

And I particularly love this one.
posted by [identity profile] at 07:15am on 28/04/2009
I can't wait to give you a hug in person for this.

Thank you.
posted by [identity profile] at 08:59am on 28/04/2009
Maybe when we don't have to fight for it we won't need the labels.
posted by [identity profile] at 09:06am on 28/04/2009
I came across your blog via briarlaboheme, and your writing appeals to me :) mind if I add you?
posted by [identity profile] at 10:09am on 28/04/2009
I haven't commented on your blog before, but I've followed you for quite a while.

That's beautiful, and made my morning. Thank you very much.
posted by [identity profile] at 10:16am on 28/04/2009
Er, and by "followed you for a while", I mean "have subscribed to your blog". It's odd how Internet terminology makes one sound like a stalker, isn't it?
posted by [identity profile] at 12:36pm on 28/04/2009
Not at all, if you are!
posted by [identity profile] at 11:23am on 28/04/2009
posted by [identity profile] at 12:35pm on 28/04/2009
posted by [identity profile] at 01:35pm on 28/04/2009
thank you for this.
posted by [identity profile] at 03:23pm on 28/04/2009
I give it a name because names are power. No more shall we be powerless, hiding in the shadows, for want of a name. That our power frightens others into displays of violence that attempt to disempower is a consequence of becoming empowered, and shall not stop us. To quote the hymn, We Shall Overcome.

Much love to you, Beth.
posted by [identity profile] at 03:36pm on 28/04/2009
this, beth, is why you're one of my heroes.
posted by [identity profile] at 06:38pm on 28/04/2009
I'm wiping tears away right now.

The story you shared proves that each of our small and big efforts to make a difference in the world, and the efforts by the fallen activists over the past several decades, names and unnamed, makes a difference.
It gives us all a tangible reason to carry on with integrity for justice around us.

Thank you.

Would it be ok if I posted this in my LJ and FaceBook?


posted by [identity profile] at 06:50pm on 28/04/2009
thank you beth

posted by [identity profile] at 09:53pm on 28/04/2009
You made my eyes all teary.
thank you, beth.

posted by [identity profile] at 12:31am on 29/04/2009
I recently just got to that point in my life after being out-ish for roughly 8 years now. Heck with the haters, if they beat me, I'll become a martyr. I'll become something greater then they'll ever understand.

I may be afraid of someone spray painting my car of vandalizing it due to the gay pride stickers I have on there, but those stickers will remain on that silver bumper regardless. I may wonder what will happen when I walk down a questionable street with my rainbow scarf and a button stating "It's ok to be gay" but I won't back down. I refuse to be scared into hiding just as that man did. I'd rather be in the hospital then a traitor to my self.

It's love we need, not fear.

In solidarity, another solider in the war for love,
posted by [identity profile] at 03:16am on 29/04/2009
that got me teary eyed it was beautiful :(
posted by [identity profile] at 02:31pm on 30/04/2009
Thank you...

You continously remind me on what it means to be alive...

And people ask me why I am out and vocal about being a lesbian...and it's because sometimes its more dangerous to speak up than to be silent, but it still has to be done... it's our right...

And I'd rather be jumped being a proud lesbian then passed over because I was quiet...
posted by [identity profile] at 03:25am on 01/05/2009
I found your blog in an accidental sort of way, and it was this post alone that made me friend you. I hope you don't mind that I have. It's odd: I am not easily recognizable as gay. If you talk to me for five minutes, you can tell I'm into women. But walking down the street, I don't look it. I've always felt kind of guilty that I can "hide" in society while some of my more obviously gay friends are targeted. I feel like sometimes I go out of the way to wear pride clothing or walk arm in arm with my friends just so people realize that yes, I exist and yes I am gay. I don't really know what the whole point of this rambling comment is except maybe that this post really spoke to me, and made me think. Thank you for that.
posted by [identity profile] at 04:37am on 01/05/2009
Beth, you are a treasure in so very many ways. Your writing style is exquisite. I applaud you.
posted by [identity profile] at 08:14pm on 01/05/2009
i love experiencing random occurrences that can spark a significant thought. thanks for sharing this, i can really relate, and it made me feel empowered. you rock.
posted by [identity profile] at 09:28pm on 01/05/2009
Thank you for sharing this.

I found your LJ via your twitter (via AFP via Neil Gaiman) and I've added you so that I can hopefully read more of your profound thoughts. :)



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