Wednesday, April 8

The Fragility of my Zagreb Queer Bubble.

I've had such a wonderful life lately, abandoning myself complately to hedonistic persuits, such as perfecting the art of spending all day in cafes hanging out with one friend after another. The sun is shining, we've had 3 t-shirt-weather days in a row, everyone is beautiful and life is generally brilliant.

I have been feeling a little guilty about this high in the last few days, though, as the same spring-fever that is causing my high has also caused nearly everyone I know to break up with their partners. Which is sad. But it does mean there are even more people than usual looking for distraction, company, and a friendly ear, which increases my time spent sitting outside in cafes, which I am not complaining about.
Some are also looking for a friendly liver to destroy along with their own, of course, and it's possible I should work on drinking less. But we know that friends shouldn't let friends drink alone, so what can I do?

Tonight though, while drinking in an alternative sort of punk-ish bar here, I had my lovely little queerspace bubble invaded by a mild homophobe.
A friend of a friend joined us at our table, and, if we had stuck to discussing languages and music, I'm sure i would have thought he was alright. But somehow the subject of feminism came up, and suddenly he was saying "There is no point to feminism these days. Maybe it was useful in the 50s and 60s, but it's not needed now". My argument to this somehow got cut off before I had finished it, but before I knew it he was saying "Gay people shouldn't march in the street, because it holds up the trams and makes people late for work". He apparently thought this meant that the pride parade each year only hurts the gay cause, rather than helping it.
The last straw, however, was: "Gay people in Croatia should have some rights, but not others". Stupidly, of course, I asked which ones we shouldn't have. Adoption was first on his list.
At this point, I flipped out slightly. I realised that this was not a conversation I could have at 1 in the morning in a mildly inebriated state, and I just wanted to get far away from this person who was happily insulting me as part of a friendly discussion. I stood up and apologised way too much while saying I couldn't continue this, and that I had to leave. He (at least) said that he would leave instead, so I was able to stay with my friends. But I was left somewhat shaky, and rather disturbed. I'm also a little disappointed that I failed to argue effectively and make him think about what he was actually saying, but I doubt it would have done any good, and I would have just ended up angry. 
Before he left he said "I'm sorry. I thought we were just having a conversation". I replied "Yes, it was great until you started insulting me".

I know that I live in a very special world here in Zagreb. Having met nearly everyone I know here through queer/friendly events and people, and as I am not working, I almost never have to interact with anyone that isn't queer-friendly. I have the luxury of living in queer space in a country where I would have thought it impossible. This encounter made me realise how lucky I am to be able to do that. And how close the non-friendly world can get.

When I got home a couple of hours later (half an hour ago), I found he had sent me a friend request on facebook. I considered friending him long enough for him to see my status, which referred to him as a homophobe, and the activist in me wanted to continue the argument until he saw the error of his ways, but in the end I decided it just wasn't worth the pain, and clicked 'ignore'.

But maybe the reaction I had was enough. Perhaps seeing someone being visibly affected like that by something he had said will make him start thinking about his own views about gay people and slowly, eventually, change them.

Well, we can hope, can't we?


Anonymous said...

I know the feeling, I've had my queer bubble all but beaten to a pulp by well-meaning friends for months!

Frakkin love the hair by the way...

Kat said...

Gee, with friends like that...

And I'm liking my new 'do' too. I'm obviously much cooler now, you see!