Please join me and my colleagues at Fem2.0 for a tweetchat on Monday, April 8 from 10 am (1 pm ET) in which we’ll be taking on the topic of street harassment as it affects the LGBT community. Chat guest, Shawna Potter and Melanie Keller of Hollaback! Baltimore. You can join the discussion by using the hashtag #EndSH or by following me @TheSinCitySiren.
The issue of street harassment is one often framed in a strictly heterosexual gender-binary, one informed and shaped by rape culture. But as Patrick Ryne McNeil writes, street harassment is hardly a phenomenon restricted to heterosexual men ogling and groping women.
My research in particular focuses on the street harassment of men who identify as gay or bisexual – research I undertook for my women’s studies MA thesis that attracted 331 responses from men around the world. What I found, and what should concern every one, is that about 90 percent of the men I surveyed said they are sometimes, often, or always harassed or made to feel unwelcome in public spaces because of their perceived sexual orientation.
I don’t want to live in a world where my queer brothers and sisters feel compelled to hide physical evidence of their sexual orientation, to disguise any legibility of difference. Too many men involved in my research shared that they concealed particular parts of themselves in public to pass as heterosexual. This process is draining – emotionally, mentally, and physically. As is the perpetual fear of experiencing harassment.
Indeed, so often the hate crimes — like the one that created Erin Davies’ “fag bug” — start with harassment. People get targeted for their lack of conformity to dominant gender norms. People get targeted because they do not fit a gender-binary — a paradigm that requires strict adherence to a standard of only two genders and that those genders are defined in precisely calibrated ways.
But if hate crimes and street harassment grow from the same vine, how do we nip it in the bud, so to speak? These and more questions will be explored in the tweetchat. And while we may not be able to solve the problem entirely in one hour on twitter, we can start a conversation that can continue into the real world and in our daily lives.
Because change starts with each of us. … Hope to see you there!