Under siege, my daughter
and I sat inside our house, blinds drawn and doors locked, waiting for the
service and protection of Toronto's Finest.
We weren’t clear about the
threat, but I think we both half-expected a rock or two through the window,
followed by something much worse. We’d ended up here because I’d asked to have
the loud obnoxious music next door turned down and because I’m identifiably
I’m a lousy neighbour to
have if your idea of a good time on Friday night is to invite over twenty of
your most noisy, cuss-mouthed friends and have them stand outside on your lawn
drinking and shouting while a car with all its doors open pounds out music so
loud my house feels like I’m living on the San Andreas fault on a bad day.
Not that I intended to
pick a fight. I asked politely, at first. I explained that my daughter and I
would be going to bed soon. I agreed to five minutes more, after which I was
courteous enough not only to ask one more time but to remind them that not only
was this inconsiderate, it was now getting quite illegal.
I had about as much effect
as when you politely ask a two year old to stop banging their little
firefighter’s engine on the television set.
Fuelled by impatience and
a healthy refusal to be so rudely ignored, I not only called the police but did
so right outside, so those brawny dimwits could see just how serious a scrawny
four-eyed female could be. I even went right over to the throbbing car to give
the nice officer on the other end of the phone the license plate number.
Dramatic, perhaps. Brazen,
yes. But all in all an otherwise quite ordinary weekend feud between
neighbours, until the moment when one particularly brainy partier yelled “Fucking
lesbian!” And the responding moment in which I answered “You got that right.”
If only there’d been a
director somewhere yelling “Cut!” I could’ve had my heroic moment without its
Back inside our house, our
vulnerability settled in. There was, really, nothing but glass between us and a
small homophobic mob whose Friday night fun had been squashed by a lesbian. I
reassuringly said they weren’t likely to start vandalising while they know the
police are on the way. But that kind of rational thinking is small comfort to a
As I tried hard to believe
my own reassurance, I had a sobering reality-check. How much can I be
indignantly out when I have a child to protect? How much can I test the limits
of virulent homophobia if it puts my kid in jeopardy? And what can I teach her
about being out and proud if it means the living room window might burst onto
the floor in front of her? If anything happened to my daughter, it wouldn’t
have been worth my neighbourhood quiet riot.
But I also have this
theory that both her and my safety can be found not in the closet but in the
outness of out. What good is the insult “lesbian” if it’s received with pride
and affirmation? (I don’t even mind being called a “fucking” lesbian.) What use
is it to them if I don’t appear to judge my sexuality with the same disgust as
they do, if I’m unafraid of neighbourhood notoriety?
In case anyone thinks I’m
hopelessly naive, I admit that safety too often depends on the luck of the draw
– my noisy neighbours turned out to be all talk and no action. So, in
hindsight, I can say I’m glad I did what I did. And I’m glad my daughter got to
see that being out and visible can be a strong tool against bigotry.
But for a little while yet
I’ll also nervously hope that that much homophobia isn’t living in every house
on my street.
back to Visibly A Parent
was, really, nothing but glass between us and a small homophobic mob
whose Friday night fun had been squashed by a lesbian. |