Everyone keeps calling me a fag
October 12, 2005 4:54 AM   Subscribe

Everywhere I go - walking down the street, hanging out in a bar, sitting there minding my business - nearly everybody that passes me, whether on foot or in a car, feels the need to make some kind of comment about me of the form, "what a fuckin fag," or "you know you're fucking gay," etc. I'm not insecure about my sexuality but the sheer constancy of it is driving me nuts. What would you do?

The only thing about me that looks any different from your average, generic, old - navy wearing chump on the street is the fact that I'm half-white and half-asian, giving me the (apparently) somewhat "feminine" looks characteristic of asians without haveing me be comfortably categorized as asian. I think the fact that I look slightly unusual is perceived as "uppity" on my part somehow. Has anyone else experienced this?
posted by Astragalus to Human Relations (37 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Yikes. Where do you live? Because my first reaction is something along the lines of "get thee to a metropolis."
posted by TonyRobots at 4:59 AM on October 12, 2005


I would take self-defence classes, or maybe even carry around a knife or a gun. You may run into a fag-basher and his drunk, fratboy friends at some inconvenient, lonely point.
posted by Rothko at 5:03 AM on October 12, 2005


Are you sure they're actually saying those things? I know I sometimes mishear people when they pass by, and maybe paranoia is getting to you.
posted by cmonkey at 5:05 AM on October 12, 2005


Yeah, first thing I checked was location in user profile. I'm absolutely astonished that you get that kind of treatment in the City. Just insane.

It's funny--when you fit within someone's set of niche categories, you can float by generally unnoticed. It's when you don't quite fit in to a stereotypical group that you start hearing the cognitive dissonance in other's heads. If it's really bothering you, I'd suggest maybe un-tucking your shirt, or wearing more black.

Alternatively, take some martial arts classes so you can confront these idiots next time. (Please pass the grain of salt.)
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:08 AM on October 12, 2005


Be careful at night, and avoid congregating fratboys (and other packs of straight guys).

You might have to practice and develop a frown/stare that you have on the street to forestall shit like that. And i'd advise an ipod too so you don't have to hear it.
posted by amberglow at 6:17 AM on October 12, 2005


Dude how gay are you that everytime you do something in NYC someone comments on it? I've seen gay and I've seen people pass it by without saying anything. You say you're a generic old-navy wearing chump, sorry I find this hard to believe. Are you sure you're not telling us everything, I mean for everyone to say "hey fag" you've got to be giving off something else. Sorry I'm not saying that I don't believe you, I'm just saying there's got to be something else you're not mentioning (even if you don't realize you're not mentioning it).
posted by geoff. at 6:39 AM on October 12, 2005


I used to get this all the time, oddly enough when my clothes and haircut were the 'straightest' they've ever been in my life ('damn scruffy hippie' would've made more sense as an insult). Weirdly, even when I was walking along the street with absolute screamers, the jibes would be aimed at me. Since I got a lot of gay jibes when I looked considerably less gay than I do now, I have no idea what you could do to prevent this happening, but I'd usually just confirm that I was indeed gay (though I've no particular gender preference) and graphically inquire as to which sexual acts the idiot shouting at me was especially interested in, which tends to embarass them in front of their mates more than it provokes violence.

I reckon 'gay' is just the default insult for 'perceptibly different.' Here in Glasgow if I'm randomly insulted on the street nowadays, I get called a fenian, which I suppose is the default insult for 'perceptibly different' if you're the kind of Protestant for whom a Catholic Nationalist is much, much worse than a fag.

On preview:

I would suggest buying a bear suit.

I don't see how dressing up as a big fat hairy gay man would stop the jibes ;-)
posted by jack_mo at 6:40 AM on October 12, 2005


The only thing about me that looks any different from your average, generic, old - navy wearing chump on the street is the fact that I'm half-white and half-asian, giving me the (apparently) somewhat "feminine" looks characteristic of asians without haveing me be comfortably categorized as asian. I think the fact that I look slightly unusual is perceived as "uppity" on my part somehow. Has anyone else experienced this?

Well, I've experienced being half-white and half-asian. The hapa dudes that I have known have always thrown off people's gaydar, so if you're looking for corroborating evidence, you've got it. I can't say that a majority of people I encounter go out of their way to tell me about it, though. What part of NYC do you live in?
posted by 23skidoo at 6:40 AM on October 12, 2005


Are you sure you're not telling us everything, I mean for everyone to say "hey fag" you've got to be giving off something else.

That is an incredibly unhelpful comment. I know from personal experience that, through no fault or effort of my own, there have been times when people have made homophobic comments towards me on the street. Even though I'm not gay.

It is completely possible that one can consciously be, dress and act straight... and yet have other people think you're gay. Normally idiots who don't mix with gay people and don't realise that lots of gay people don't "look" gay anyway.
posted by skylar at 7:25 AM on October 12, 2005


Rothko writes "or maybe even carry around a knife or a gun."

I would not recommend anyone carrying a weapon, legal or otherwise. A beating is a beating, but if you brandish a weapon, it's much more likely to be used on your in the end than on your assailants, it moves your "self-defence" plea into the pre-meditated area (should the Police get involved) and it may end up giving you a false sense of security which will *increase* the attention you get rather than decrease it.
posted by benzo8 at 7:26 AM on October 12, 2005


Are you making eye contact with these people pre-comment? If so, don't. A lingering bout of eye contact can make some yahoos think "that guy done tried to come on to me!" and provoke comment.

The temptation to quote David Cross here is strong, but unhelpful and thus avoided.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:26 AM on October 12, 2005


A beating is a beating
posted by benzo8 at 7:26 AM PST on October 12 [!]


A beating is a beating. A fag-bashing is often much, much more than a beating. Exercise due diligence and protect yourself if you think you're being threatened physically.
posted by Rothko at 7:30 AM on October 12, 2005


Ah, my eurasian brother ;) I'd suggest wearing baggier clothing maybe? I assume that perhaps you prefer the more European cut of clothing which can make the body look more waifish, which kinda accentuates the more.. uhm, delicate features mixed folks can have.

Or perhaps you're just a bit too pretty in the face (hey, it's a good thing) and the raging homophobes (read closet gay) can't help but notice.

I can't say that I've really experienced what you've gone through, besides the odd gay man giving me a longish look.
posted by eurasian at 7:36 AM on October 12, 2005


I'm effeminate as hell, live in NYC, and this never never ever happens to me. I lived in Texas for a long time, for christ's sake, and it only happened there occasionally.

Either you're being paranoid, or there's something you're not telling us about - like a 'My other girlfriend is a gay dude' t-shirt.
posted by item at 8:28 AM on October 12, 2005


This sort of thing used to happen to me when I was younger, although it was more generically nerd-based rather than gay-based (ie., "fag" was used in a strictly pejorative sense, not to refer to my sexuality).

One thing I found helpful, as mentioned above, was to develop a "street face". If you look like you're liable to hurt someone when rubbed wrong, people bother you less.

Also, in the realm of too much information, I once savagely beat someone who tried to push me around one too many times. I do NOT recommend taking this approach, but somehow or other it definitely changed the vibe I give off. Maybe that's a function of being an amoral monster.
posted by aramaic at 8:28 AM on October 12, 2005


I am also skeptical, but I note that your zip code puts you up by Columbia University. Do you live in a Hispanic neighbhorhood? That will make a difference. I'm straight and it's been years since I lived up there, but I remember simply wearing shorts would solicit shouts of "maricón" ("fag") from the Dominicans.
posted by Mo Nickels at 8:41 AM on October 12, 2005


You need headphones and ten-yard stare.
posted by Sara Anne at 8:53 AM on October 12, 2005


Like others here, I'm fairly astonished to discover you live in NYC and get this. That's just bizarre. "Nearly everybody" that passes you? In bars, on foot... unreal. And up near Columbia?

It's hard to know why this could be happening. You could certainly go to different bars because if you're getting that treatment there you must frequent the weirdest, most atypical bars in New York. I think we need more information here.
posted by Decani at 9:06 AM on October 12, 2005


I second the headphones thing. It helps me ignore creepy old men who feel the need to yell stuff at me as I walk by. It makes me feel good- like, you may feel the need to talk to me, but Iiiii caaaaaan't heeeeear you.

And, p.s., you sound hot.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:08 AM on October 12, 2005 [2 favorites]


Sunglasses are also good for helping you ignore random comments from passersby. They would also help cut down on any unintended eye contact you might be making, without making you look intimidated.
posted by occhiblu at 9:16 AM on October 12, 2005


I'd be leery of using headphones, since I want to keep all my wits about me.
posted by brujita at 9:23 AM on October 12, 2005


Do you by any chance wax your eyebrows (like, if you do drag a lot)? I know a few femmy gay guys who wax the brows for weekend drag, and man, do they look girlie. In a good way IMO, but they look super femme and people notice it immediately.
posted by tristeza at 9:27 AM on October 12, 2005


Man, let's trade. I'm half-Asian (of the small, female sort) and people lock their car doors as I walk by them at stoplights, in parking lots, at the curb -- no exaggeration, it happens with a creepy sort of frequency. You can be the scary one and I'll be the pretty one.

Seriously though -- I second the sunglasses. If I were in your position I'd be rolling my eyes at these bozos and it'd cut down the risk of confrontation. Have you seen the street harrassment project? It has some great spine stories that are satisfying to read.
posted by Marit at 9:45 AM on October 12, 2005


I second the wondering about eye contact. Don't make eye contact. It's an invitation to commentary. And I fourth (fifth?) the need for a blank stare. I also find a good, brief, WTF? look to be useful when comments can not be ignored.
posted by desuetude at 10:10 AM on October 12, 2005


i second eurasian's post.

this very thing happened to my sister's boyfriend when he visited us in NYC. one time in staten island (where the offenders also threw a plastic bottle at us), and one time outside our apartment in brooklyn. it was shocking. all we could think was that he was wearing tighter clothing/pants than most men do here (he had to borrow "girl pants" during his visit-- long story). and it's true that european men here tend to trigger my gaydar, something i had never experienced before NYC.
posted by unknowncommand at 11:50 AM on October 12, 2005


I'm troubled by the 'nearly everybody' is that an exaggeration, or do you mean the subset of people with whom who make some sort of contact, or is it really nearly everybody? Nearly everybody is usually too wrapped up in their own world to notice other people. Do other people who are with you notice and comment on these comments?

I wonder if you have a recent bashing incident that might be causing you trauma? I've been reading about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder lately, and hallucinations are apparently a common component of it. Is it even remotely possible that these people aren't actually saying these things?
posted by jacquilynne at 11:57 AM on October 12, 2005


I don't get the no eye contact thing. In a bad neighborhood I make more and longer eye contact than I do in a good neighborhood, just staring straight ahead is an invitation to be fucked with.

Just be sure that if you do make eye contact you hold your eyes on them for a moment or two then let your eyes slide off to the side of the person, if you drop them instead most people will view it as submissive.
posted by 517 at 1:14 PM on October 12, 2005


Holy JEEBUS you guys live in rough neighbourhoods. Then again, the most danger I ever encounter is a skunk (the real kind), a family of racoons (also real) or a bevy of bears (the leather wearing kind).
posted by eurasian at 1:39 PM on October 12, 2005


Re eye contact: it's been my experience, that *making* (or rather *initiating* eye contact with random people in a bad neighborhood is *more* likely to get you a "wha'chu lookin' at" or similar response. Better to just stare ahead like you're pissed or in a hurry.
posted by edjusted at 2:35 PM on October 12, 2005


I don't get the no eye contact thing. In a bad neighborhood I make more and longer eye contact than I do in a good neighborhood, just staring straight ahead is an invitation to be fucked with.

In my experience that is just totally wrong. Making eye-contact, especially "tough-guy" eye contact, is a challenge. You'd be unpleasantly surprised how many frustrated and angry people would be happy to take you up on that challenge at the drop of a hat.
posted by sic at 3:50 PM on October 12, 2005


Eh. I make eye contact all the time. I just keep smilin' though, and I don't let it linger. There's eye contact that acknowledges a presence and eye contact that challenges.
posted by klangklangston at 5:47 PM on October 12, 2005


I'm not sure I'd do it but...

I'd say, "no, man, metrosexual, but it's a natural mistake. I do it to meet chicks."
posted by filmgeek at 9:32 PM on October 12, 2005


Oops, spaced for a couple hours and my question roled right off the page... Thanks a very much for your answers, which are the type of helpful comments I'd expect from great folks like you mefites. The phenomenon I described began relatively recently, and was a little raver weirdo growing up in NYC which makes me wonder why I never got this before. To some extent I chalk it up to the macho post-911 zeitgeist, but in fact I'm increasingly coming to believe that at least some of the problem is in my head (I've had some experience with hearing voices before). My solution has been to truly stop letting it bother me and it seems to be working pretty well. And I do effectively have a black belt in karate so I don't fear for my physical safety. Robocop is Bleeding if you for some reason return to this thread: Funny you say that because the other night I was walking down Houston when I heard someone call me a name, and when I looked up it was David Cross. I'm serious.
posted by Astragalus at 12:14 AM on October 13, 2005 [1 favorite]


David Cross called you a faggot out in public? Not that i don't believe that's what you think happened, but I wonder if a relatively well-recognized/recognizable celebrity would risk their reputation to do something as stupid and horrible as that in publc. (Esp. Cross, who, I know second hand from folks who know him, is a very decent and gay-friendly guy, if very sarcastic and foulmouthed.)

I'm more concerned for you in terms of your previous experience with hearing voices, that worries me.
posted by tristeza at 8:08 AM on October 13, 2005


Funny you say that because the other night I was walking down Houston when I heard someone call me a name, and when I looked up it was David Cross. I'm serious.

Dude. I'm not trying to be flippant here, but you might want to get the old noggin checked out. Seriously.
posted by Decani at 7:44 AM on October 14, 2005


Yeah, this is sounding like a classic example of delusional thought pattern. I meet people all the time who are terrified walking around because they think everybody is making fun of them or plotting against them. These guys are homeless, usually because they didn't catch their problem when it started, and it ended up ruining their lives. The reason they never caught it is usually because it seemed to be completely real to them, so there was nothing to see a doctor about. Much more often than not, fixing the problem only requires simple medication.

See a psychiatrist. If he or she orders medication, make sure you keep taking it. Don't stop taking it just because your symptoms go away. They will come back.
posted by dsword at 1:22 PM on October 16, 2005


Yes, but there IS a David Cross impersonator walking around NYC right now...
posted by iamck at 12:09 PM on December 14, 2005


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