In Columbus, Ohio, this past August, I had a very different experience from the one detailed in a recent HuffPost blog
in which Joel Diaz describes the positive experience of witnessing fellow customers and staff at a pizza restaurant come to his defense when an anti-gay customer began harassing him and his friend Ethan for holding hands while waiting in line. I don't want to be a naysayer, but before we use their experience as a barometer of social change, let's consider my not-so-rosy tale of harassment at a fast food joint in the same city. Joel describes his and Ethan's experience as "incredible," and mine was, too -- as in "unbelievable."
Every year, I deejay at a deluxe private event thrown by a large corporation in Columbus. Because they also fly in dozens of other staff from NYC, they always put us all up at the same airport hotel. I stayed an extra night because I'd booked a show at the city's big gay club the night after the party I'd spun for. In my show I use Chicken Mcnuggets as a prop, so I went across the street to McDonald's to order them. I'm a sissy even out of drag, and one guy behind the counter could not stop gagging at my appearance. He was alerting all his coworkers to take a peep at me, and I just said nothing. (When you're effeminate and choose not to hide it, you let a lot of shit roll off your back.) He got the attention of his manager, who turned around, looked at me and rolled her eyes plainly in my view. When the manager then tried to take my order, I'd had enough.
I complained to her that I was a customer there and didn't appreciate being mocked by the staff and explained what I'd just seen this guy do. She played dumb, even though, at this guy's insistence, she had just joined her whole staff in poking fun at me. So I asked for the manager. She said that she was the manager, so I asked her for her name. She refused to give it. By now other customers were looking on, because the discussion had become quite heated, as I was demanding to know whether this was how paying customers were normally treated at this establishment under her watch. Getting nowhere, I left and went back across the street to my hotel. I was so angry and shaken up that I was complaining to a friend on my phone outside the hotel. Then the police pulled up and got out of the car. The McDonald's manager had called the police on me!