Love And Fear: A Reality Check
About 20 years ago, I left a gay bar with a tall blond haired man. We walked down a dimly lit New York City street, not holding hands, just wheeling his bicycle toward his apartment. As we talked, a car sped past us, and inside a group of youngsters rolled down their windows and yelled,
It scared me for a moment.
Was it that obvious?
Was I that naïve that I thought people would leave us alone?
I guess so, yes. I recount this story because in all the years I lived in New York City, all the times I rode the, “muggers express train” to school, the dark winter nights I walked from the most dangerous areas of Brooklyn to subway station on my home in Manhattan, I never was accosted or bothered – it was only on that day. Just for walking and being gay.
You’d have to be dead to not see that in today’s world – hate trumps love.
Exclusiveness trumps inclusiveness.
It’s a big mess.
Do I feel scared? A bit.
Do I make sure I have valid passports for our children when we travel in the U.S? Yes.
Do I fear that someday as a Jew, as a gay man, they will come for us? Maybe.
Do I feel as naïve now as I did 20 years ago?
No. I just know that the hate was always there but unlike the event 20 years ago, people don’t drive by and yell, they will stop the car, get out and tell you to your face. If I had to do it all over again, maybe I would have said something, to challenge the hateful speech by those kids in the car. Maybe it could have changed their future; remember, they had to learn to hate from somewhere and it usually starts at home.
Related: Ask Rene: Is My Son Gay?
And as a side note, that night, we wheeled the bicycle to my car, I drove him home, and went back to my house, alone and a little less naïve about the world.
What about you? How do you explain hate speech to your kids? How to you teach them to respond?