One late night, we came out of the bar bathroom after being harassed by a drunk man. Our four girlfriends who were waiting for us on the dance floor asked us what was wrong. We told them. Without a moment to think, they fought for us, they yelled for us, they saved us.
The Coeur d’Alene area is known for many amazing things. It has beautiful scenery, a bright blue lake, tasty restaurants, and great nightlife, but it still faces many challenges in my eyes.
Many of the people who live there don’t seem to grasp the word “respect.” Full of bigoted and close minded people, the Coeur d’Alene area is on my list for most unfriendly community.
Growing up in a town that is seven minutes away (Post Falls), I experienced a lot of what Coeur d’Alene has to offer, but as many of us move on to experience new adventures in our lives, I moved off to college here at the University of Idaho and fell in love with the Moscow community.
In December of last year, I went home to visit my family and friends. A few of us went downtown to party the night away and celebrate being together again. We went out to a bar called Splash–a nightclub like CJ’s in Moscow. My friend, Alex, and I went to use the restroom and encountered the truly unexpected.
As we waited for the next open urinal, one asshole decided to make a comment on our appearance in the bathroom.
“Are you guys going to f**k or something,” he asked.
Alex and I looked at each other, confused as to why this man is asking us this question. Then he proceeded to make the same comment again.
“Are you guys going to f**k or something? If so, that would be weird. You realize this is Idaho, right? In Idaho, that sh*t isn’t allowed. Faggots!”
Again, Alex and I questioned why someone would make this comment. All we wanted to do was go to the restroom and enjoy the rest of our night, but instead we had this guy harassing us in the bathroom about our sexual orientation.
As a gay male, I have heard it all before. The words that people use to describe the gay community don’t affect me, but they do affect many. We are all humans and we all should be treated that way.
Gay bashing is the phrase often used to describe incidents just like the one I experienced. The term “gay bashing” is defined as “verbal or physical abuse against a person who is perceived by the aggressor to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, or queer including those who are actually heterosexual or have an unknown sexual orientation.”
Growing up feeling that you are different from what society considers “the norm” is already hard enough. On top of the pressure of feeling weird or different, those of us in the gay community are often harassed and treated in a way that is unacceptable.
This behavior is often pushed to the side and deemed as non-important, but in actuality it is extremely important. No-one should ever have to live with this type of harassment, but it still continues to happen each and every day.
“A middle-aged biker with Aryan Nations tattoos broke in my girlfriend’s car windows one morning after we went on a breakfast date,” said Samantha, 21, queer, Post Falls. “We couldn’t tell our parents because we weren’t supposed to be seeing each other, as a condition of me moving back in with them after being kicked out already.”
Within the gay community, many of us are taught to hide our feelings or emotions due to others’ lack of respect for human differences. But why should we have to censor who we are?
Living in Post Falls, I always felt that I had to put on a front or a show just to make sure I wasn’t going to get harassed each day, and even then, I was still slapped a across the face with the words “fag” and “queer.” After a while, it takes a toll on your self-esteem, and affects the way you interact with other people.
When I came out to my parents, they were scared for me to express who I am to others because of what could possibly happen to me. I felt the same way for a long time, but when do we stand up and say enough is enough? When do we say that we aren’t going to take it anymore, and make that difference?
The time is now. We need to stand up, speak up, and fight against gay bashing just like my friends did that night.
They saw that we were hurt and took control of the situation by expressing to the guy that the comments he made to Alex and I in the bathroom were not OK, and that he needs to think twice the next time he speaks.
That night we were abused, and although nothing physically happened to us, many people do not have that luxury. People are faced with these horrible situations each day and many witnesses do nothing. By not saying anything, you’re doing nothing. By saying something, you’re saving.