So I get off the bus in the Castro this afternoon (for those of you who don't know this is San Fran's gay district, a haven for those who [pro]claim their non-hetero sexuality proudly and loudly) and am waiting on the corner for the light to change when I see a guy dotting the landscape with posters for a party. The poster shows a couple of guys havin' a good time and enticing folks to blast their hard earned cash at weekend bash. A young man of about 13 sees the poster, giggles and makes an inappropriate comment about the poster and next thing ya know the poster guy is rolling on the kid and goin' off all righteously indignant and thinkin' he's puttin' this child in his place.
Now the boy was a young man of color who, while clearly wrong for his comments, the poster guy felt he could act a fool with. I gotta tell you this ticked me off and I turn to the poster guy and (none too politely) let him know that he is way out of line yelling at a kid like that. I swear he was two clicks from using the "N" word (you know you can tell when its comin') and I was not havin' it. I gotta say I was truly perplexed that the guy was going there given that he was pissed because the kid made pejorative comments about his "community". It was clear that poster guy felt it was okay to berate a little Black boy alone - go figure.
Poster guy was clearly unprepared to have anyone step up and let him know that he too was out of line and taken aback when I got all up in his face. (And when I'm in your face it is not a good thing because I got swagga, vocab and ain't afraid to let you know about yourself.) Dude gets all flustered calls me the B-word and turns tail to run but not before I let him know that he is worse than the kid because he didn't see the opportunity in this encounter - the opportunity to educate someone about his community. He just did not get it. During his rant poster guy says the kid, "won't be comin' into our community talkin' shit and dissin' us". (He actually said diss' like it made him cool and "urban".) Come on this was a young boy feelin' his oats a Black boy who is bombarded by images of gangsta' masculinity where homosexuality is taboo. In this kid's world it is the biggest, baddest, loudest roughneck that is a "real man".
The poster guy was in such a snit about the kid disrespectin' his posters/community that he failed to see the opportunity to engage with a youth and generate understanding and tolerance. He could have helped the kid see that they probably had some things in common especially as members of marginalized groups.
Now for those of you who are all like, "how could I defend the kid?", let's be clear - I was not defending the boy's behavior but chastising poster guy for acting just as immature and ignorant as the kid.
If I went off on every twit that I heard making disparaging comments about Black people or women, I'd be blue in the face. Instead, I take a minute or two to try and educate the ignorant. Ya know this might be a better place if we used our encounters with those who don't understand our community, lifestyle, or beliefs to inform. Every time you cuss someone out rather than sharing a piece of your reality it fosters the misconceptions the uninformed have about who and what you are. So, people when you see or hear a bigot or homophobe twidiot being bigoted or homophobic take the time to enlighten and educate you can help change the world one person and opinion at a time.