This Sunday, I took my daughters to a splash park. They were playing with some friends they went to school with, and the friends' mother and grandmother were there as well. A lesbian couple came into the park and made a few passes through the spray before sitting down on a bench to enjoy the sun. No major public displays of affection, they simply hugged a little and giggled...I point that out to highlight that they really couldn't have 'avoided' what was about to happen, not that they should have had to 'avoid' anything.
I was playing with my eldest when I saw the grandmother approach the couple. I could tell from her body language that she was saying something vile to them. All I heard was one of the ladies saying, "This park is for everyone". My stomach churned...I stopped playing with my girl and stood up, burning a hole into the back of the grandmother's head. I couldn't decide whether I should confront her, or if that would escalate her disgusting behaviour.
I took a passive aggressive approach...when my daughter asked why I wasn't playing anymore, I loudly explained that I was upset, because that woman (I pointed) had told someone to leave the park. My daughter of course asked why. I explained that some people made up their minds to hate people they don't even know, and then they try to make those people feel bad. My daughter said, "That's stupid, how would they like someone doing that to them?"
The grandmother and mother packed up their kids like their asses were on fire and left. I feel sorry for the kids, who had no idea why their day had been ruined.
It bothered me so much, and it wasn't even directed at me! I approached the couple and said I was really sorry that had happened to them. They seemed to be in shock...one woman asked me if I'd heard what the grandmother had said...apparently she'd said "If you want to be free, go home", and her argument was they were "disrespecting the children". She asked if I felt like they'd disrespected my children and I wanted to cry. I said the only thing I found disrespectful was that woman's bigotry. The other lady began to cry. I'm glad the other women had left, I was so angry to see how badly it had affected her.
So that bigot probably went home and explained how some awful lesbians had driven them out of the park. I had to explain to my children why some people are so hateful, that they want to deny people the right to even enter a splash park. I'm glad I said something to the couple, to show they were supported, but I also feel like I failed them in a way...I feel like I should have done more when I knew what that stupid woman was doing.
I'm still disturbed. I don't have to deal with this shit usually, because even though I'm in an open relationship, it's primarily a het relationship and I'm not spending as much public time with female lovers. I've been lucky not to have to deal with much more than stupid comments and dirty looks, but my supposed 'hetness' is also a privilege that protects me.
I wasn't prepared. I can't stop thinking about it. I know it's 'mild' perhaps compared to physical violence, but it was so vile.
How do we confront homophobia? When it's literally happening right in front of our faces?