To the Daily:
On Saturday I was followed and attacked because of my rainbow umbrella, and on Monday I was a Crime Note (Drunk harasses passerby with rainbow umbrella, 03/15/2010).
As I entered South Quad carrying a rainbow umbrella, a man who seemed to be drunk screamed at me that I was a “faggot” and then followed me inside the building, continuing to yell obscenities and intimidating words. It was frightening and painful, but with the support of friends, I began to move past it.
And then I read about it in the paper Monday morning in the Crime Notes section, an area where I usually find innocuous, unserious, or funny accounts. To anyone who found the description of the incident funny: It wasn’t funny to me when I was fearing for my safety. It wasn’t just about having a rainbow umbrella and someone being drunk. It was about hate and prejudice. It was about the essence of (part of) who I am. I’m not sure how well that was conveyed in the crime note.
I deeply appreciate that the Daily runs many articles, viewpoints and editorials about queer issues. However, it seems that the narrative we often hear is one of moving LGBT people from a “neutral” state, where they may not lack some rights but things are basically okay, to a better place. Examples of this include articles advocating same-sex marriage or partner benefits, like an editorial that ran in the Daily last week (Love is a legal battlefield, 03/10/2010). But the hate I experienced on Saturday should be a reminder to us all that, while moving forward to full equality is important, we aren’t even at a neutral place yet. Acts of hatred and discrimination happen to LGBT people all the time. Prejudiced and ignorant people are everywhere — even in Ann Arbor. As we fight for more rights, we must also fight hate and oppression in all its ugly forms.