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I was followed home as I zig-zagged across the street and stood at the bottom of my steps–watching me fumble for my keys
I was 10 years old in New York City. One day my family and I took the subway home. I walked over to a trash can and a man stood behind me and whispered “I’d love to lick your tight little pussy” when I turned and noticed he was talking to me I gasped but he smelt so awful! I immediately bent over and started gagging, I almost threw up on him! I guess this really made him mad because he walked away cursing. I will never forget that smell, still to this day if i think about it, it makes me gag!
I was just walking back toward my dorm alone at 3 in the afternoon when two men (adults, clearly NOT Brown students) stopped me under the pretense of asking directions to the pool. What followed was a string of incredibly creepy innuendoes, ogling, and clearly unwanted, inappropriate advances, which thankfully ceased after I walked away, feeling totally disgusted.
We were walking down the street and a man honked at us as he drove past
LGBT STREET HARASSMENT: A THREAT TO PHYSICAL SAFETY
“Faggot!” (Just ignore them.) “HEY! FAGGOTS!!” (Ok. I guess we should have known better, we shouldn’t be kissing outside.) “I like your watch, fag.” (Please don’t take my watch. Uh oh, they got his phone already! Where did all these other guys come from?)
My friend Rob recently told me how he was street harassed in France last year. A group of men targeted him with antigay slurs, and then immediately escalated into physically attacking Rob, hitting him on the back of his head and trying to pull his watch off of his wrist.
Unfortunately, this is a common pattern, because all forms of street harassment are a type of violence. For people who think it’s alright to invade another’s space with verbal street harassment, it can be a short step to a physical street harassment attack. What do these different types of attacks have in common? They all serve the purpose of making the target feel scared or uncomfortable, and making the harasser feel powerful. Street harassment is about intimidation— putting someone “in their place.”
Many LGBT people have experienced street harassment based on how their sexual orientation or gender is perceived. When an LGBT individual is harassed in this way, the harasser’s message is clear: “You don’t belong here, and this is not your street. I can enter into your space and deny your safety, because you do not fit my personal expectation of sexual orientation/gender.” This denial of the right to exist in public space is directly related to the physical safety of LGBT people.
In New York City, we have seen a scary rise in gay bias-related crimes in 2013, all beginning with street harassment. There was a murder in Greenwich Village earlier this earlier this year, as well as several additional attacks. These hate crimes impact the entire community, laying out a blanket of ever-present discomfort and anxiety. As Jae Cameron of Hollaback! described it,
just as I begin to shake off that sense of self-consciousness and dread that follows me into public spaces, I hear it….just what I’ve been expecting, a shout from the other end of the bar, “sweet, lesbians!”, followed by the usual personal space violation and an unrequested “can I join in?”
The good news is that you can help your public spaces be more LGBT safe. One way you can do this is to take the bystander pledge, and learn how to safely intervene when you see harassment happening. Feeling energetic? Join us in this year’s pride parade – we will have streamers! Let’s make our streets safe and fun for everyone.
Was running across the street and a man leaned out of a door of a truck to scream at me. Something like, “run big Bertha”
Hollaback! recently published our Employer’s, Union, and Service Provider’s Guide to Ending Street Harassment!
Check out this short video with author Debjani Roy, Deputy Director of Hollaback!, outlining what the guide offers and what you can do right now to stand up to street harassment.
You can read and download the full Employer’s, Union, and Service Provider’s Guide to Ending Street Harassment on our site here.
Leered at and catcalled while walking to the grocery store.
While I was biking to work a man in a nice car pulled up next to me and said “hey, beautiful.” He looked like the man who raped me and I’ve spent all day wondering if he’s found me again.
I was sitting in a bakery eating and an old man from the next table started talking to me. I was being polite but the conversation wasn’t ending. He eventually got up and stood close to me and my table. I was uncomfortable but I hadn’t been on my own for very long so I wasn’t sure how to respond. He abruptly grabbed my face and tried to kiss me. I pulled away and he continued talking to me as if he’d done nothing! He eventually left and I was left to sit in shock.