Monday, May 15, 2006

Hate Crime?

This morning I walked to the mail box on the corner and passed by the For Rent sign in my neighbor's front yard. I stopped dead in my tracks because the For Rent sign had been painted with the word "Queers" across it.

I started to yank it out of the ground because I thought it had been vandalized in an act of homophobic rage. Then I noticed the stars around the word "Queers" and the careful detail used to fill in a word so often spit forward with hate.

Then I put it together. The building with the For Rent sign is called "L Town" by the people who live there. 'L' for Lesbian. We live across the street sandwiched between a hippie couple and another set of dykes and we affectionately refer to it as "Trannyshack." A steady steam of queers has occupied that corner for the past 6 or 8 years.

I realized in that moment that the "Queers" emblazoned across the For Rent sign was actually an advertisement, an exercise in self preservation. We are a corner of queers and none of us want homophobes moving in, so what better way to protect ourselves than to ask for what we want?

May 17 is International Day Against Homophobia and sadly, we are still surrounded by homophobia even in our very tolerant pocket of South Clintonville. The campus of the second largest university in America is just 1.8 miles to our South, and while Universities often breed acceptance and diversity, we are still in Ohio, recently rated the worst state in the U.S. to inhabit as a LGBT person.

Hallelujah for my queer neighbors and the courage they found to shout "Queers" with stars and bubble letters! It is that kind of deliberate resistance that gives me hope for my community and my state.


goldie said...

Two comments, one being that while I applaud whomever in the building that wrote that ever so carefully, and two don't you think that it might also be a deterrent for passersby who can't see the nice little stars and how artfully it may be done?~just a thought. Also I have a friend who has called Rob on more than one occassion that is a queer and he has not returned her calls.

pixelville said...

I like this post a lot. You're right that this kind of grass-roots resistance is really important. I do also agree with Goldie, that if misread, this sign might actually scare GLBT people who are looking for a safe place to live.

I recently learned that in terms of equality legislation, Ohio is 51st in the nation. Frightening -- and speaking out about who you are ("Queers!") is just a part of what needs to happen to combat this. Let's get back out there this summer and pound the pavement hard to make sure Blackwell loses and Strickland turns the state back to blue this fall.

dewey said...

I love it. Maybe we could sell our house and move a couple blocks over!

chuckie said...

Ohio could not be as bad as the southern states, hands down. I live down south and have to say, sometimes in the big cities there still is alot of ignorance.