I Can’t Even Buy a Coffee
by Emil Tinkler
After the hell that 2020 has been with COVID-19 and the election and literally everything else going on right now, it would be nice to have a break. But even though Biden won, our work is not over and we can not become complacent and compliant simply because the man now leading the country is blue instead of red. Queer people will still be harassed and discriminated against which is evident by one of the most recent interactions I had at my local Wawa after Biden was elected. The next part of my story may be triggering to some people — please be warned.
Back in November, I went to Wawa to pick up coffees for my partner and I while he grabbed us dinner from a restaurant next to the gas station. Right now, Wawa has these amazing French cinnamon toast iced macchiatos which we are obsessed with and had gotten several times at the same Wawa, so I didn’t really expect anything weird to go on. I ordered my coffee at those little kiosks they have with no problem, but it was when I got in line with my printed ticket that the problems started. There was a couple in line ahead of me and the register was unoccupied because the employee was helping a different customer who had come up to counter with something. I didn’t notice anything odd at first other than maybe and weird look from one of the people, but I’m sort of used to that by now to some extent. It was when I noticed the couple very visibly staring at me that I started to become uncomfortable.
I still tried to ignore my discomfort. Assumed that it was nothing. That they aren’t really staring at me — I must just be misinterpreting the situation. I started hoping the cashier would come back soon so that this would all be over. Then one of the people walks away from where they are standing in line past me, so I relaxed a bit, assuming that they are going to grab something they saw behind me explaining the staring. But then they quickly walked past me again while noticeably staring at me and up to their partner to loudly announce “I can’t tell what gender It is.”
My heart sank before starting to race. I felt so embarrassed, but I was unable to do anything but stand there as the two of them started to laugh at me and continue glancing at me while whispering to each other. Then just as quickly as it had started it ended by the clerk finally returning and the couples’ attention being brought back to checking out. I had hoped that would be end and they would leave after checking out.
Unfortunately, like me, the couple had also ordered either food or drinks and ended up waiting with me in the part of Wawa where they deliver the special orders. It was mortifying having to continue to occupy that space with these people who continued to stare and laugh and making passing remarks to each other about what “It” was doing. Eventually their food was ready and then they were gone.
Things like this happen every day to queer people across the country. Please do not think that just because Trump is out of office that it means that everything is safe now. Activism is still just as important as it ever has been and please consider donating to any of the organizations below who work hard to advocate for LGBTQ+ youth rights.
About the Author:
Emil Tinkler is a 21 year old college student living in Central Florida. They are a gay agender person. Emil is a psychology major and a humanities minor. They want to be a therapist one day and help trans kids access medical care, and they love Harry Potter, Bad Suns, and LGBTQ activism. Emil was Vice President of the LGBTQ group on their campus for a year, and will continue to keep activism close to their heart in everything they do.