That is the thought that crosses the mind of every single gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans person each time they open the door to the night and look at the waiting taxi. That fleeting and sometimes not so fleeting thought that runs across your train of thought and sends an icy feeling roiling in your gut for a split second: “Am I going to get bashed tonight? Do I give myself away? Am I going to be murdered tonight because I’m queer?”
People will argue with me that this is an overreaction or that not all LGBT think this but I’m telling you that you do. It’s probably not even a conscious thing but it’s why you don’t hold your girlfriend’s hand when you’re walking through the shopping centre or why you don’t go and talk to that cute guy at the deli counter or why you’re not going to wear that t-shirt on casual Friday in case it draws the wrong sort of attention.
The thought that just because we are LGBT we may draw the attention of men of violence and invite that damage onto ourselves is one even the most confident militant queer contemplates each time they walk out the door. Even in the areas near the gay bars in Belfast I am still cautious about who I am with, where I am going and who is watching. Even with guys that I am meeting with or that I have just met (I don’t know if the same applies to straight guys but I doubt it) and every time I meet a guy at a bar or when I hear about friends who have met a guy on Grindr for a once off I think “What if they had hurt you? What if that was a trap? What if they were setting you up?”
It’s a horrendous feeling and I am glad that Russel T Davies brought it up (even in such brutal fashion) on the last episode of Cucumber. It doesn’t matter how long ago it was that you came out or how comfortable you are with being gay there will always be that subtle and sinister and unwelcome Homophobia that dances along your train of thought for a moment or more and asks “Will I make it home tonight?”
That is the world we live in as openly LGBT people. We owe it to ourselves to stop living like that.