Someone scrawled the word “fag” on the side of my car.* In permanent marker.
It happened some time over the last few days, but I didn’t notice it until last night.
In one sense, it’s a very a minor thing. It (mostly) came off in 5 minutes with some methylated spirits. And I’ll take my car four-wheel driving some time, and the dirt will cover up what’s left.
But in another sense, it’s a big deal: I thought it would never happen to me. And I had been hoping (pretending?) that I didn’t live in a world like that. And I wondered: if someone would damage my property when I wasn’t there, what would they do to me if I was?§
I felt immediately frightened and shocked – am I safe? Then, I felt sad for the person who’d done it. And finally, I resolved to live my life, determined to be more honest and more compassionate. (What else could I do?) It took me about an hour to regain my emotional equilibrium.
I could imagine a few different ways this could have happened:
- I was parked at night near a location known for gay and bisexual men, and someone disliked something I said to them.#
- I was parked in the open carpark where I live, and someone knew it was my car, and that I am bisexual.~ ‡
- I was parked somewhere, and it was a random act of homophobic graffiti. This is somehow the the most comforting option, because it has nothing to do with me personally.
When I started blogging, I made a deliberate choice to give up many of my conversational filters. They were a (failed) attempt to fit in. I’d prefer to be more honest, even if I’m misunderstood. I had intended to come out publicly at some point, but I really didn’t think it would be over such a negative experience.
As far as I can remember, I was always bisexual, attracted to people of my gender, and people of other genders.‡ I just thought this was the way everyone experienced attraction.¶ I’m still reminded, every so often, that there are genuinely straight and gay people in the world, that is, people who feel attraction to only one gender.†
As I wrote in a previous post, I suffer from chronic physical and mental illness: chronic pain, chronic fatigue, insomnia, depression, and anxiety. Some of this is probably an adjustment disorder.**
For much of my life, I was able to pass as a straight, white, able-bodied, mentally typical, cisgender male. I was injured in a motor vehicle collision six years ago. (Again, I thought it would never happen to me.) Up until a few years ago, I almost entirely hid my sexuality. I’d occasionally suffered from depression and chronic fatigue, but they seem much worse now on top of everything else. It’s been quite a shock to realise how people treated me differently when I was no longer straight, able-bodied and mentally typical.
So now, I try to stand up for the marginalised. I did it before, but I was pretty clueless. I probably still am in many ways. I’m much more intentional and intersectional now. That’s one of the reasons I blog.
And, as a Christian§§, I pray “Forgive them father, because they don’t know what they’re doing” (Jesus in Luke 23:34).
Edit: Replace “neurotypical” with “mentally typical” in the post excerpt, as neurotypical is often used to refer to people with autism, and I didn’t want to cause any confusion. Also updated some tags and categories.
Edit: copyedit for phrasing & missing words, and add the Jesus quote’s biblical reference, and a link to the passage. It turns out I’m not as good a copyeditor as I expected, when it comes to my own work.
* “Fag” is short for “faggot”, a homophobic insult.
§ It’s such a minor thing, but it reminded me of the dangers that many people experience, just because they don’t fit people’s preconceptions.
# It’s quite possible that it was a combination of personal rejection, and internalised homophobia. Yes, internalised homophobia is a thing you get from growing up in a biased world. And some of us have it bad.
~ I try to talk about sexuality in a sex-positive manner that focuses on the diversity of human attraction. Although, for some reason, when I say “bisexual”, people think of a steamy porn scene. Try not to do that, ok?
‡ Like many bisexual advocates, I define bisexuality as an attraction to multiple genders (“bi+ meaning “my gender” and “other genders”). This is similar to the definition of pansexuality/omnisexuality. However, some resources, including wikipedia and many dictionaries, define it in a binary-gendered fashion as “being attracted to both men and women”. This excludes people who are non-binary-gendered, such as agender, third gender, and genderqueer people.
¶ I know this will sound strange to most people, but I had no genuine basis for comparison. And like people tend to do, I believed what I experienced was typical of everyone else’s experience.†
† I assumed that everyone was towards the middle of the Kinsey scale, a measure of sexual attraction towards men or women. Hearing that people had a choice about their sexuality from the churches I attended further confused my mistaken impressions of others’ experiences of attraction. As did the focus on sexual actions, not sexual orientation. As a bisexual, I obviously did have some choice who I dated, but still, regardless of who I dated, that didn’t actually change my sexuality at all.
** Actually, I am adjusting, it’s just happening more slowly that I would like. And I still remain frustrated at many of my limitations.
§§ Yes, it is possible to be both bisexual and Christian, and, for that matter, LGBTI and Christian. No, that doesn’t (necessarily) make me a heretic. Nor does it necessarily imply anything about my theology, or my sex life (or lack thereof). I’ll write more about being a bisexual Christian in future posts. But I certainly can’t speak for all LGBTI Christians – we are a very diverse bunch.