• EMPWR Contributor

Dear Nicole... how do I handle homophobic abuse in public?

Updated: Jul 1, 2020

"The world can be so ugly, but love is what makes it beautiful."

By Nicole Clevenger

Dear Nicole... I have recently come out and began dating someone of the same gender. I'm only starting to embrace it and feel comfortable.

However, the other day I was with the person I'm dating, we were holding hands while waiting for a bus, and then we kissed. Another person waiting on the bus came over and shouted at us that we were disgusting and spat at us.

I know this isn't that common but I have no idea what to do or how to react/handle these sort of situations. Any advice?? I'm quite shy and don't like attention being brought on like that and would like to do what is easiest to do but sometimes walking away isn't an option as I was getting on the same bus as them.

A similar thing happened to me. I was walking down the road of my estate holding hands with my girlfriend at the time and some young lads on bikes started following us and shouting horrible things at us.

The reality is this: people are still homophobic. People are still shitty. There is sometimes nothing you can do when you are the victim of this kind of thing. It terrifies you, it freezes you, you can’t react.

Obviously, if it’s possible the best thing is to just leave, get to a place that is safe as soon as possible. But if you can’t or like you said, you’re on the same bus, what you can do is call someone on the phone. (Or honestly just pretend to call someone). Or look around and make eye contact with the other people on the bus, silently call on them to stand up and say something. Being able to talk to someone reinforces the idea to you and to the attacker that you are not alone, you're not a vulnerable target.

The real advice is to anyone who sees something like this happen - speak up.

If you’re not the target, but you see someone is getting abuse (homophobic, racist, xenophobic, etc.) then you need to step in. You don’t need to say anything to the abuser, but you can check in with the person. Just diffuse the situation, divert the attention. We all need to look out for one another.

To you, dear anon, all I can say is keep holding the hand of the person you love. The world can be so ugly, but love is what makes it beautiful.

© 2020 by EMPWR

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