Something pretty awful happened to me Sunday night and I would feel better about it if other people knew.
This past Sunday I went out with a group of friends to a popular North End pub to take in a show by a personal music icon of mine. I hope to catch her on her next tour because unfortunately, I had to miss this show.
What was meant to be a highly anticipated night out quickly turned into a screaming match with the owner of the pub, which resulted in me leaving before the show ever began.
My friends and I were sitting in one of those awkward chair formations that occur in small but crowded rooms. We were enjoying our pints and having a gay old time. When the opening band started playing we continued sitting and talking for a while, waiting for the main act to come on. All of a sudden I felt someone touching my back and turned around to see a middle-aged man saying something to me. I withdrew my back from his hand for all of the obvious reasons (stranger, dude, don’t touch me) but he put it back and kept saying something.
It was loud, but eventually I realized that he was asking us to move our chairs out of the way. I nodded, and looked back at my friends to send the message that we needed to move out of the way for accessibility’s sake. The man was still standing over me though, and as I noticed his smirk he said, “you look so grumpy, sweetheart, try to relax”.
My heart skipped a beat the way that they do whenever someone has called you something that they wouldn’t call another man, based on what they perceive your gender to be and their attitudes about it. In essence, I felt that old familiar pang of sexism creeping into the interaction.
He was persistent, but not because we weren’t moving over -- because I hadn’t smiled at his joke.
“You look like you have a bad attitude, honey, and that’s not the kind of attitude I want in my pub.”
I asked, “why do I have a bad attitude? Because I’m not responding to your ‘sweetheart’ or ‘honey’ or patronizing back-patting with appreciative laughter? Those aren’t my names and it’s not okay to call me those things”.
Important side note: I’m trans. I’m a genderqueer person who doesn’t identify as a woman or a man, and my presentation is pretty gender fluid. He was not only being sexist, he was also misgendering me and erasing my identity in front of all my friends and other people in the bar.
I called him on it, and that’s when things really blew up. “Oh puh-leaze, I’ve taken two feminist studies classes and I have two degrees under my belt, so don’t you try to pull that sexist bullshit with me!”
I looked over at my friend, who was as stunned by the whole interaction as I was. Everyone went silent at the sheer defensive ludicrousness of his last statement. He was embarrassed that I had had the nerve to call him out and wanted a fight to redeem his wounded ego. He said that he owns the pub, and that if I didn’t like what he was saying and doing to me that I should leave. I stood up, looked him directly in the eyes, and said, “being the owner of this pub doesn’t entitle you to this sexism. There is no excuse for how you’re talking to me right now.”
We argued for about a minute and then I grabbed my coat, left my friends, went up to the door to ask for my cover fee back. The owner followed me all the way to the door and I when asked the door attendant if he could hear this and believe that it was happening. The last thing I heard the owner call me was a "cunt witch".
I may have missed the show, but I won’t be missing that pub.
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