The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

Tired

I didn’t mean to go off, really. But I had just had enough. It was one of those moments when you mutter to yourself, “That’s all I can stand. I can’t stand no more.”

We were out grocery shopping yesterday. It’s not unusual for one group or another to have a table set up outside the grocery store. Sometimes it’s the Girl Scouts, selling cookies. Sometimes it’s people raising money for charity. Sometimes It’s people protesting property taxes in Montgomery County (Usually people who don’t have children in public schools, because they’re retired or just don’t have kids. So it doesn’t matter to them that we have some of the best schools in the area, and even in the country.)

Someone was setting up a table when we went in, but I didn’t look to see what it was. We were too busy getting the kids situated and getting into the store. But on the way out I saw this guy sitting at the table, with a sign asking for signatures to repeal a law that would “allow men in women’s restrooms.”

I knew instantly what he was about. Late last year, Montgomery County passed legislation prohibiting discrimination against transgender persons in housing and employment. We’re proud to live in such a progressive community, and chose it specifically because we want our children to grow up in a progressive community. I was particularly proud when, after the bruising battle over an inclusive ENDA, Montgomery County showed that some Americans are more than “ready” for transgender equality.

And here is this guy outside our grocery store, spreading fear and misinformation as part of an effort to repeal the bill, by the same group who attempted to stop our schools from implementing a gay-friendly sex-ed curriculum, that also addressed anti-LGBT harassment and bullying.

I saw red. Some people actually laughed at the guy, but at least one man remarked, “There are more important things to worry about. People are dying, and this is what you’re concerned about?”

“People are dying.” That’s why I saw red. That’s why my immediate reaction was anger. People are dying. More specifically, people are being killed.

Maybe I was angry because I’d been reading about the murder of Lawrence King all weekend.

King was shot in the head Tuesday morning during a class at E.O. Green Junior High in Oxnard, police said. More than 20 other students were in the room at the time….King sometimes came to school wearing makeup and high heels, eighth-grader Nicholas Cortez, 14, told The Associated Press.

Another eighth-grader, Michael Sweeney, said King’s appearance was “freaking the guys out,” the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.

“He would come to school in high-heeled boots, makeup, jewelry and painted nails the whole thing,” Sweeney told the Times.

King was pronounced brain dead at St. John’s Regional Medical Center on Wednesday, said Craig Stevens, senior deputy medical examiner in Ventura County. Doctors planned to remove some of his organs for donation Thursday, Stevens said.

Maybe it’s because I just read about Cameron McWilliams, the gender variant youth who committed suicide in the U.K.

A BOY of 10 has been found hanged at his South Yorkshire home after telling his mum he wanted to be a girl.
Tragic Cameron McWilliams had already asked for permission to wear make-up, and been teased after he was found wearing his half-sister’s knickers.His desperate mum Kelly McWilliams told a Doncaster inquest she had bought him girls’ underwear to wear in private, but had refused his requests to be allowed to wear make-up.

…He had been teased after once being found in his half-sister’s knickers, and had asked if he could wear make-up. His mum told him he would have to wait until he was older.

Mrs McWilliams found her son hanging, with a black leather belt around his neck, in his half-sister’s bedroom at the family home in Montrose Avenue, Intake, Doncaster.

“When I got in the room he was not asleep, he was standing by the window with a dressing gown on,” she said.

“His head was down and I realised something really serious had happened and I screamed.”

The court heard Cameron was a lonely boy with no friends outside school. He spent all his time at home listening to music, playing on his XBox and using a laptop computer.

Maybe it’s because I just read about the uproar over a school in Colorado accommodating a transgender student, in a news article that revealed just enough information to out the student.

Maybe it’s because I read about Laura Ingraham’s idiotic remark about a transgender conference “killing the culture.” Meanwhile Shanesha Stewart was, an actual person, was killed for being transgender. Maybe it’s because I’ve researched the murders other transgender women, like Bella Evangelista and Emonie Spaulding, many of whom were driven to sex work as a means of survival due to employment discrimination that made it impossible for many of them to get “straight jobs.”

Maybe it’s because I just read that the murder of Rashawn Brazell remains unsolved after three years despite the efforts of bloggers and activists.

When I came out of the store with Dylan, I just gave him a dirty look. I have to be careful when I have my kids with me. I’m concerned for their safety above all else, so I don’t go off on people who richly deserve it. But when we got in the car the hubby told me he’d yelled “No!” at the man when he asked for the hubby’s signature, anf suggested we should complain to the management.

That was all I needed. The kids were safely in the car with the hubby, so I volunteered to deliver our family’s complaint, hopped out of the car and said I’d meet them in front of the store. I was trembling as I walked back to the store, because hatred is being poured out on our children. Our children are being killed. Our children are being driven to take their own lives, Our sisters are being driven into harm’s way, and being killed. And I’m tired of it.

People are dying behind the very bullshit that this ignorant mofo is trying to peddle in the community where my kids will grow up. And I’m tired of it.

I walked back into the store and spoke to the manager. I explained why ou family found the presence of the table offensive. She explained to me that the man had a right to be there, and I explained to her that I understood that, but then so would the Klan or the Nazis, and that this man was in the same category. I explained that as an African American, it offended me to come to do my grocery shopping and have to walk past someone advocating discrimination against my brothers and sisters, against a group of human beings just trying to live their lives. i told her that the next time I encountered something like that, I will turn my family around and go to another grocery store. If nothing else, maybe the store will get enough complaints that they’ll take into consideration how customers might respond next time around.

I walked outside and told the guy the same thing. I knew it would do as much good as talking to a wall, though he invited me to have a “conversation” about the issue. My experience, however, tells me that with some people dialog is a dangerous distraction, besides being pointless.

So, I got into the car and drove off with my family; still tired, but feeling a little bit better.

12 Comments

  1. Jesus, Terrance. I know that feeling of anger and the need to not blow up in front of your kids. You handled it perfectly I think. The world will never be free of bigots but that doesn’t mean we have to accept their loud mouth presence. Good for you.

  2. i’m glad you said something, and if I run into something like that now I know what to say..
    thank you T

  3. Thanks Terrance for such a powerful statement. You just reminded me of why I need to get more aggressive and see what needs of our SGL youth here in my neighborhood that are going unmet.

  4. Congrats. You did the right thing. Businesses need to learn that what they allow or support affects who supports them. Equal rights is just as much an economic issue as it is a social issue.

  5. I’m glad you voiced your concern to the management and I’m also glad to hear that the man wasn’t getting much support from the patrons. I grew up in Montgomery County, thanks for taking care of it while I’m away in NYC!

  6. I agree with the posters: it was important for you to express that viewpoint to the store management, not just for them to hear, but to demonstrate to Dylan and Parker that you don’t just say “Please, sir, may I have another?” when someone pours a cupful of hate on your sidewalk. I’ve been raised to be polite, but not to the point of being silent in the face of opposition.

  7. You acted in just the right way. I’m not sure I could have had that much restraint.

  8. well done actvist action. we need more people like you who refuse to remain silent to things that ultimately affect all human rights to dignity and respect

  9. My mom ran into these people while shopping. She called them “misinformed bigots” to their faces. It’s hard being away at college, but I’m glad to know people like you are willing to take on these onerous twats in my home county.

    Thanks, Terrance.

  10. The Lawrence King execution was just 5 miles up the street from me. I have also run into this idiots (not a strong enough word but I’m not sure what would be), and most recently I ran into them in the foyer of a church. Not surprising, but it still made me see red.

    After the Lawrence King murder, I wrote what I would have said if I’d run into one of those folks face-to-face. Just thinking about the idiocy of their petty little petitions makes me see red, but know that as a straight white parent I’m totally on the side of right in this case.

    It’s really time for these folks to stop with the petty hate campaigns and realize what the consequences of them have been. Tragedies, for what? Every time I see Larry King’s sweet face I’m furious all over again.

  11. Good for you, Terrance!

  12. You go. Thank you for standing up for people in our community and saying something both to the store manager and to the bigot at the table. I can’t remember at the moment who said it, but I’m thinking now of the quotation “Speak up, even if your voice trembles.”

    Just found your blog via ‘Discover!’ on Google Reader. I’ll be back (no, not in a Terminator way… :)).

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