A note to the man who called me a “fat bitch” during Pride.
I’ve been gay for, oh, about 14 years now, perhaps about as long as you’ve been alive, and as soon as I learned there was this thing called Pride, I was excited. I remember staying up all or almost all night before my first one because I was scared I would sleep late. I have delayed sleep phase disorder, the self-diagnosed version. Google it. It’s a thing. Anyway, I think Harvey Fierstein was one of the marshals and in that case it would have been 2004, a few months after I realized I was gay. Yeah, that sounds right, me not wanting to wait a second to be here and queer. And boy, do I love me some Harvey Fierstein, even though I’ll still kind of chuckle at the thought of Jon Lovitz making fun of him on SNL.
I recall staying at the parade practically the whole time, something I haven’t done in years since. Maybe your first Pride was like that too? I wouldn’t be surprised. When you’re feeling good about yourself you want to keep that going for as long as possible, and Pride is also super entertaining. The drag queens, the marchers, the music, the free shit, the drag queens. (So good they’re worth mentioning twice!) I’ve had good Prides (the first!) and terrible ones (getting there late and not being able to get a good spot, going with a sourpuss girlfriend) but, overall, Pride gives me this feeling of being proud of myself that I don’t always have in the real world. Pride is sort of a dream state, and then, once July starts, people get back to making you feel like second-class citizens, even here in “gay-friendly” NYC. I’m also closeted to some important people in my life so Pride is especially important for me to go to. I feel like all the Prides I have ever gone to are one day going to give me the power I’m going to need when I finally come out to these folks. This last Pride, however, stung badly towards the end, and it was all because of you, guy I met just as Pride was ending. Thanks for fucking nothing.
It was a crowded mess over on 14th Street and 8th Avenue, as you will recall, with everyone in NYC it seemed converging inside the L station. Pridefest, the fun street fair so many of us attend, was nearby. I had just bought a tote bag that said Totes Lez and I was very pleased with my purchase, as a wordsmith and an actual lesbian and someone who was happy to give to HRC. I would imagine we were all hot and tired and ready to go home and chill out before the all-too-sudden arrival of Monday when we were down in that station. The line to get into the subway was I’m guessing longer than it normally is. (I rarely if ever approach the L from that angle, so I don’t have a good basis for comparison.) You were determined to walk between me and this other person on the line to get where you were going, pushy fucking person that you were. As I remember it, it was hard for me to react quickly because I had a large fold-up seat in my arms, which I took with me to see the parade. I also figured you could walk around me, instead of right on top of me, so I guess I didn’t move out of your way. I’ll take the blame for that one. Sometimes I’m a brat.
You did not like it.
You walked right in front of me anyway, or maybe around me, I don’t remember. But I certainly remember what happened next and maybe you do too, or perhaps what you did barely registered because you do it so often.
You called me a “fat bitch.”
What a classy thing to say to a woman. If you are a queer person, which is likely considering where we both were, it’s even more disgusting. We’re all supposed to love each other on this one day, just one day, but you had to hate.
The phrase you used was interesting. Bitch would have been enough, but you felt you had to add a little extra to hurt me more. Except it didn’t sting in the way you wanted it to. I felt bad someone was angry at me, but calling me fat is more of a description than an insult. Oh, you don’t think I know I’m fat? I fucking own a mirror and a scale; you can be sure of that. I am overweight, or plus-sized, or whatever you want to call it, but it is not something I think about too much in terms of worrying about how awful I supposedly look or whatever. Being called a bitch hurts more because that’s not who I am at all and the proof of the pudding is that I didn’t curse you out in return, not that I could because you ran away like the coward you are.
I imagine it would have hurt more if I was straight. As a dyke, you, a man, are not my target audience in terms of who I want to appeal to. Other queer women typically don’t shame you for being a few pounds or 50 pounds overweight. I mean there are some who do; we don’t live in a queer utopia. At least not yet. At least not with Trump still in office. Mostly, we are an accepting community, though, and that’s what I like about us.
I’d like to be thinner, but pretty much this is for health reasons. A relative of mine died, I believe, after a lifetime of not eating healthy and I have no desire to follow in her footsteps, whether it was morbid obesity that caused her death or rarely eating a vegetable. I feel like a healthier diet will make me a healthier person though who knows if this is actually based in any reality. I mean Bob Harper recently had a heart attack, and I know of plenty of healthy or at least not too sick overweight people, so maybe this whole being-thin-is-being-healthy thing is bullshit. Buying clothes is frustrating for me, but I was never much of a clothes horse, and stores seem to stop stocking sizes after 12 or 14, which in my world I still call thin. I lack for dates, but it has I believe little to do with my weight and more with a crippling shyness, a preference for old-school butches, a dislike of drugs, smoking, most animals and all children, and an overly judging nature I have no right to possess.
Not that any of this is your business, not that the way my body looks is any of your business, but I feel you should know where I’m coming from. Also, I just recently got over cancer, so I’ve gotten real clear about what’s important in life and what isn’t and this kind of shit simply isn’t. It’s a little upsetting but in the end, it won’t matter. Also for all I know you were fat too, maybe fatter than me, but I didn’t get a clear look at you because you blended quickly in the crowd a few seconds later, coward that you are and yes, I know I mentioned this already but it bears repeating. I bravely took the insult you lobbed my way but you couldn’t stand to bear any insult that might have come out of my mouth. If you are overweight, I sincerely hope you have more compassion towards your body than you had towards mine. I find it interesting that you figured, hey, she’s a girl, she probably feels bad about the way she looks, and this is an easy way to hurt her because she dare not move out of my way. And you had such a good chance of being right, considering how badly society makes women feel about ourselves for being overweight. You also had a chance of doing real psychological damage. Such a comment could have made me want to starve myself in response. Wasn’t it some random reviewer calling Karen Carpenter a little chubby that set off such a horrific chain of events? Of the many things I’m grateful for, one is that I’m not at risk for an eating disorder, regardless of what anyone says or thinks of me.
But here’s the thing I want you to know most about me: I couldn’t imagine myself ever reacting the way you did. I am a person who gets pissed at lots of people on the regular — hey, I live in New York City; it’s bound to happen — but I have never insulted a stranger’s looks in the heat of the moment. I don’t have that in me. Having been bullied for a number of years in my life has made me extra sensitive to others. I never want to hurt someone the way I was hurt for so long; I don’t care if you’re my worst enemy. But others aren’t like that apparently. You weren’t. Do you know that even though you hurt me I pitied you? That you exist in a state of such anger, have such a need to have things go your way, have so little patience with other people, that you would be that vile just to move half an inch forward half a second sooner? I actually felt bad for you. To have that much hatred, to walk around with that, to be so quick to pop off — as the kids say — over such a small infringement, well, you must have some deep problems.
No, when someone hurts me, I don’t usually react with curses and insults. I sit back and think about what the moment says about me and them. And then sometimes, if I am still angry and having complicated feelings, I write about it.
Wishing you peace wherever you are,