by Lauren Bedosky, HollaBlogger
Recently, two incidents have occurred aboard the New York City subway system. The first occurred February 16, and might not have come to light had a passenger not uploaded a video recording on YouTube of a preacher shouting anti-gay propaganda to a subway car full of people. In the video, you can hear the preacher shouting homophobic speech to a subway car full of passengers, while another passenger continues to talk over him loudly, repeating phrases such as “Jesus is love,” and “You are a false prophet.” The video is 2 minutes 31 seconds long, and at about the 1:36 mark, the dissenting passenger stands in the middle of the aisle in front of the preacher and declares, “I am a man, and I am a good man, and I am a gay man!” Throughout the video, the other passengers merely look on, some with their phones out to record the scene. By the end, however, the gay man receives cheers and applause for his bravery.
Meanwhile, the second incident had a violent ending. On February 18, Urena Morel Frankelly, 23, was physically assaulted by six passengers while riding the No.2 train with his partner. In the events leading up to the assault, a female passenger took a photo of Frankelly and his partner. When Frankelly confronted the woman, asking why she was taking their picture, the woman and her friend began hurling homophobic slurs at them. An argument ensued, and six passengers attacked Frankelly while the rest of the passengers looked on. Frankelly’s partner attempted to intervene, yet could not prevent Frankelly from getting punched repeatedly. The pair managed to escape the train when it stopped at West 96th St., and immediately called the police. The attack is now being investigated as a hate crime.
In both the events described, bystanders largely failed to take action. Only in the first event did bystanders offer the slightest bit of support, and even then the support was meager. However, the person who uploaded the video of the incident should be thanked for her efforts to promote the man’s bravery. In the second event, it is almost hard to believe that a hateful assault like that could occur aboard a train without interference, yet it is the unfortunate reality that heterosexual women, lesbian women, gay men, transsexual and transgendered individuals, and many others must guard themselves against on a daily basis.
There is a need for more people standing up to those who spread hate and those who harass. Bystander support is invaluable in the fight for claiming safe public space for all.