Let me explain something to you:
I have anger issues. It comes from years of being bullied as an effeminate black man growing up in the South. Therefore, if somebody is calling me a faggot or otherwise in my face, I usually snap, and something bad happens. Either I get thrown out of a bar (Doc Holliday’s) or my mouth gets me into trouble and I get mugged by 4 dudes (on my way home from Target last year).
Well, I accidentally moved to the hood a couple of weeks ago and I just got my first brush with reality.
I had a cushy little apartment on the Upper West Side that I lucked into last year. Unfortunately, my landlord got cancer and is moving to Florida next month. I could conceivably stay in the apartment, but ol dude was giving me ridiculously reduced rates in exchange for running errands for him and taking the trash out and such. Therefore, I was gonna have to move to a cheaper neighborhood.
I have a few friends in Harlem so I’ve been around here and there. Harlem is weird. There are some scary places I refuse to go and some really cute places with fancy restaurants. I looked at an apartment at the end of the 3 Train and it was cute. However, I forgot to check the neighborhood out at night, so I didn’t realize the whole area was full of hood dudes standing outside listening to rap music blasting from their cars and basically disrespecting everyone who walked by. I go out of my way to avoid that. Groups of straight dudes with nothing to do is HAZARDOUS to your health. That’s how hate crimes happen. One guy? Fine. Six guys? You can die from that.
I was on my way downtown to meet some friends and do some club-hopping. I could hear from my window that there was a lot of loud-talking and aggressive conversation going on at my usual exit, so I took a different route with less people. I walked through the middle of three dudes—because you can’t go around, and they NEVER fucking move out of the way—and one of em goes “hey sweet thang, wass good?”
I ignored it. Because that’s what you do.
“Yo mah nigga I know you hear me. I said wass good.”
“Yo dis faggot is mad disrespectful. I’m trynna be nice and shit and dis faggot givin me silence.”
His friends were laughing. I was still ignoring, and just trying to make it to the subway without them following me.
They didn’t follow and I hopped on the train, trying to calm down and get my pulse back to a normal rate.
OK. I live on the last stop of the 3 train, meaning the train is usually there waiting for its departure time, as opposed to other stations where you wait on the platform for the train. Also, the next stop after my stop is a short station. Only the doors of the front five cars open at that station. This is all background to help you picture what happened next.
I got into the seventh car, sat down, and waited. There were two white people up ahead to my left (a girl and a gay guy) and two black dudes down to my right. A few minutes later, an older black man, maybe late 30s, sat down across from me. I’m not sure if he was homeless or not, but he didn’t look put together at all. I was staring at my phone, reading an e-book. I could hear him talking to me, but as usual, I was trying to ignore him.
“Hey lil man your hair looks nice.”
“You goin out?”
“You goin to the gay club?”
“Hey, I’m asking you a question, I said is you gay?”
Then he leaned over and tapped me on the knee. I jerked my head up because I couldn’t believe a stranger was actually touching me.
“Hey I said is you gay?”
With much irritation, I answered him “Yes! OK?”
“You goin out?”
“Lemme take you out to dinner….Hey…I’m talkin to you…whatchu readin?”
Then he got up and sat down next to me. The boy/girl couple were deep in conversation. The two dudes to my right were snickering like idiots to each other, saying things like “this faggot found himself a sugar daddy.” Old Perv leaned over and whispered in my ear “Lemme show you somethin.” I was so shocked that he actually got that close to me, I snapped my head around to face him, and before I could get my thoughts together to yell at him, he tapped me on the leg with his dick. Out of his pants. This man had taken his penis out and touched me with it.
I jumped up and got into the next car. Car number 6. I sat down, caught my breath, and stared at my phone again, not really focusing on the words. I heard footsteps when I realized this train car was empty, the doors had just closed, and I was alone with this old perv who just touched me with his dick. I pretended not to notice him getting closer until he sat down across from me and I said “Seriously? Go away!” He stood up like he was going to walk through the connection to the next car, but before he did, he pulled his dick out again and said “just touch it a little bit” standing right in front of me.
I jumped up, pushing him as I did, and he fell into the seat across from me. It was all blind rage and absolute shock at this point, and I stepped on his face. Twice. With my Doc Marten’s. I don’t know if I broke his nose or not, but there was blood, and he was holding his face as we pulled into the train station.
The doors of car 6 don’t open, but the doors of car 5 do. So I ran into the next car and exited out onto the platform so no one would get on the train and ask me questions about why this man was bloody and crumpled over in the next subway car.
I went up to the street, took a few deep breaths, and walked all the way home to cool off.
And I feel gross. I feel like I just got a taste of what it’s like for girls everyday walking around the city having dudes catcall them and throw disrespect left and right. I can’t take enough showers. There was no way I was going to press charges—I wouldn’t even know how. But I feel better telling the Internet.
And I bet that old man will think twice before he whips his dick out for another faggot on the train…