"You gay!" were the words he shouted when me and friend passed by a house in our neighborhood. Nineteen at the time and "out" for less than a year, the word still cut like a knife when I heard it. I looked up and gave him a hard, icy stare as we rounded the corner and continued our walk. But little did we know, their harassment wasn't over. Two other boys caught up with us on their bikes and started trailing us. The loudmouth of the duo started spouting stupidity such as "It's not cool to be gay," "Who the man in the relationship?" (making the assumption my friend and I were lovers) and "Why ya'll wanna be gay?"
Since these were 15-17 year-olds we were dealing with, we quickly responded with a barrage of sarcastic, witty retorts and continued on our way. A few days later, and taking another walk through our neighborhood, we saw the same group of guys walking towards us. Looking at us with a mix of bemusement, disgust and contempt, remarks such as "Uggh faggots," "That's not cool...it's not cool to be gay," and curiously enough "Ya'll could suck my dick." Again I merely shook my head and dismissed them as young ignorant fools.
One night walking back to my friend's house we passed by one of our hecklers' house, where the group was playing basketball. As we made our way down the street, I looked back to find that the main instigator was following us. He came up behind and once spat his mantra "Man it's not cool to be gay," I responded by asking him what the fuck his problem was and why he care so much, while my friend said similar sentiments. We were reaching the end of our patience with this dude. He then grabbed my jacket and a tug of war ensued. Seeing how stupid this was (and how the jacket was cheap old anyway) I released it and we continued walking. Suddenly I felt a sharp pain on the back of my head. This guy had punched me.
I whipped around to find him jumping back and forth his hands up in a boxing positions, looking like the mascot for Notre Dame. Like all good cowards his friends quickly joined him and stood behind him, waiting for me to make a move. I thought to myself I can't believe this. I will knock you the fuck out! I was so in my own thoughts that I could barely hear his commands that we "get our faggot-ass on out of here" or something to that effect. I debated whether I should fight or not, and decided I didn't want to go to jail for pummeling a minor.
So we rounded the corner and continue back to my friend's house. But it wasn't over. The ringleader and his lackies ran up the street to us, walking side by side with us. The leader said "I don't like gay people," in a voice that rang with pure hatred. "Don't come on our street no mo'" he said. "Alright" I replied, still trying to diffuse the situation. Little did I know that they were done talking, and we were soon in a 2 on 5 fight in the middle of the street.
I saw my friend duck and dodge and swing at one of the attackers before he slipped and went down, and was stomped several times. I soon found myself surrounded by group of three, dodging and evading swings before being hit in the nose. The voice on the other of that fist exclaimed "Ooh I stuck that nigga," as I slipped on someone's wet grass and was subsequently stomped. A bystander, known to everyone in the neighborhood as "Blue Eyes" merely stood there and said "That's fucked up" with a smug smirk on his face. After they finished and quickly went back down the street. (On a side note, most if not all of the attackers attended church. I believe this probably supported their attitude towards us and emboldened them to 'put the punks in their place.')
As I walked back to my friend's place minus one shoe and a bloody nose, my body trembled with rage. The fact that two of the attackers had been to my house years earlier to play video games and hang out further contributed to my fury. As we reached my car, my friend and I traded revenge plots. My first thought was to run them all over, stuff their corpses in my trunk, and dump them in a ditch. His plan consisted of us ridin' up on them with baseball bats and swinging to the fence on their asses. Another thought was slashing the tires on of the guy's tires.
It was the first time in my life I'd seriously considered murder. I finally understood what could make someone feel so angry that they'd want to take another human life. It is the feeling that you've been so humiliated, so violated and so betrayed by what someone has done to you that simply beating them up or insulting them back isn't enough. The only way the situation can be resolved is for that person to not exist anymore. There is no room for compromise or discussion. They have to go.
We did discuss calling the police, but decided against it because of the cause of the attack. I know it doesn't make sense, but at the time both he and I were still deeply in the closet to our families, and reporting the incident would have led to questions I just wasn't ready to answer at that time. I think many victims of gay bashing don't report for this very reason, or they feel the police and their family won't be supportive. The closet makes you do strange shit. But I digress.
For days after we were jumped, I sank into a funk that varied between blind rage and deep depression. I knew homophobia existed and felt some of its sting before, but never had I been so closely aquainted with it. It truly hurt me to know that a stranger could hate you so much for something that had nothing to do with them. That event forever changed who I am.
Needless to say, none of those things happened that night or I wouldn't be writing this post.
However we still had something in store for them. And once some of our friends came back in town we sprung into action. We convinced a friend of ours to pour some sugar down the tank of one of our attackers' car. Unfortunately his gas cap had a lock, so his mother's car had to take one for the team. As we drove off I couldn't help but hum "A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down!" I know it was an awful thing to do, but at the time I wasn't thinking straight. My mind was completely clouded by revenge. I also used a label maker from work and had the same friend (he was very good at stalking about in the night) stick below the license plate on the same guy's car. I wish I could've seen the look on his face when he was babbling about b.s. with his friends and saw the words "platinum dicksucker" in all caps on his car. Things really started to heat up when we all rode by one of guy's house, blasting music and mean mugging the whole group as we rounded the curb at two miles an hour.
Of course, as the saying goes, if you fight fire with fire everyone gets burned. One night I let one of my friends drive and we ended up behind the guy's car. Since this was shortly after we placed the sticker on his vehicle, we rode his tail all the way down the street, trying to examine our handiwork. After he cut us off at a corner, opened his door and gave us glare. To speed things up a bit this led to a showdown at my friends house with at 12-15 people fighting in the front yard, and only ended after one of my friends called the police and the guys scattered like roaches. In the melee however, my car suffered a huge dent, which cost around $600 to fix. In the weeks that followed, two of the guys (not the main instigator) personally apologized to me and my friend and one of them ended up becoming a passing aquaintance. As far as I know, we've all moved on.
In hindsight, I would have never taken things as far as they went, or allowed my friends to. All that drama wasn't worth it. Through all that chaos, nothing got resolved. It wasn't until we actually talked that things got worked out. If I had to do it all again, I would've just called the police, filed a report, and done whatever I needed to do to make sure they were punished for they did.
Later on, I can't remember exactly when, it might've been a few months or weeks later, my friend's sister informed me the main instigator had been jumped outside the local movie theater. I didn't feel overjoyed or particularly sad for his predicament. After all, jumping folks and picking fights, that's not cool.