Last night, I handled another homophobe, but the difference was, this time, a friend witnessed it. He thought it was a big deal and told me to send out a mass Email about it, but I disagreed at first. I told him I go through this all the time. It’s nearly routine at this point. But, you know, he was right. So many gays are killed or injured by homophobes. If I don’t speak out, I’m just as guilty as the homophobes. It seems only right to teach gays how to defend themselves against bigots. It’s wrong to not do what’s in my power to save the lives of people killed or hurt by evil people. Now, I’m not going to give rules or step-by-step directions. Life doesn’t work that way. I’m going to lay down some guidelines, and you need to use your brain to determine what exceptions apply and whether or not you’re in one of those situations. And remember, you don’t have to be gay for this to work. If you’re in a similar situation, most of the techniques should still work.
Part I: Avoiding The Fight.
The first thing to remember is that there is one hard, fast rule. This is the only way to have any sort of control over whether you actually fight. Nothing else works if this isn’t in effect. You have to be willing to fight. If you’re not willing to fight, the bigot can tell, and you will probably end up in a fight. If you are, more often than not, you can avoid the fight.
Depending on who you are, who the bigot is, and what he is saying to you, you may be feeling scared, intimidated, angry, offended, or any number of things. This is okay. Just don’t show it. Don’t let him know how you feel. And don’t let your brain lose control of your actions. The bigot is acting on feeling, and if you act on thinking, you will have the upper hand.
Keep your demeanour calm, but assertive. Don’t take his shit. Talk back in an assertive but non-threatening manner. Speak as if he’s not a threat, but rather an inconvenience. This actually accomplishes two goals. One is that it shows him you’re not scared, which causes him to question whether or not he should fight you, and the other is that it makes him more angry, which will help you out if he does decide to fight you. Someone acting on anger is not thinking, and ergo, easier to take out in a fight.
If you are seated, don’t stand up until the fight actually begins. Standing up means you’re ready to fight. It puts him on the defensive, which pretty much begins the fight. I’ll discuss how to start fighting back in the seated position next time. If you are busy, don’t stop whatever it is you’re doing. I was eating dinner last night when I was accosted, and I continued to eat through the duration of the experience. Stopping whatever it is you’re doing, translated from body language to English is, “You want to fight, then? Let’s go!” Just be ready to stop if he decides to fight.
Remember not to say you’re not afraid. That only sounds like you’re trying to convince yourself. It’s better to show him. It doesn’t matter how you really feel, but how you come across. If you come across as a lion, you will be treated as a lion. Homophobes are not going to risk getting in a fight with a queer they think might beat them. That would be terribly embarrassing for them.
When dealing with any confrontation, a good demeanour to adopt is dismissal. This works especially well with authorities or other people who think they should be more important than you’re treating them. If you’re in a position that makes this possible, adopt it, but be ready to switch to assertion if he keeps at it.
Make constant eye contact. People who are afraid or nervous like to avoid eye contact. Keeping your eyes on his will show him you’re serious business, but also make him nervous. Again, the two goals accomplished at the same time. If you have an especially important line to deliver, make sure you give it, in confidence, with your eyes locked on his. When the bigot told me last night, that he was going to beat my “fucking arse, you faggot,” I made it a point to lock eyes with him before delivering the calm, but firm line, “You’re going to try.” I think the locked eyes during that line, as much as anything else, is what caused him to back off.
In conclusion, be strong, but non-combative. Be assertive, but non-threatening. Don’t take shit. Don’t tip your hand. Don’t waver. Don’t show fear. Hold your ground. Be willing to fight, and you should never have to.
However, if you have to anyway, it helps to know technique. The homophobes are usually going to be large men who do physical labour (because they’re typically not smart enough to do intellectual labour), which may be intimidating, but what matters more than strength and size in a fight are brains and technique, which I will discuss next time in Gay Self Defence Part II: Ending The Fight Quickly (and hopefully with as little damage to yourself as possible). I realise how important this issue is, so I’ll try to get it up tomorrow. In the meantime, if you get into a fight, use your head.