Risky gay PDA
Melissa Carter sounds off on recent anti-gay incidents.
A simple cab ride home is the last place you would expect to be targeted for being gay. But last weekend that is exactly what three women experienced in Oregon.
A Broadway Cab driver is accused of forcing Kate Neal, Shanko Devoll, and one of their friends out of his cab early one morning, after he witnessed Neal and Devoll being affectionate. Making matters worse is the fact he dropped the women off on the side of an interstate.
“He started shouting some pretty hurtful and homophobic things. And then he proceeded to pull over on the freeway and let us out of the cab. I didn’t realize at first what was happening, but the more he yelled, the more clear it became,” Neal says.
She told him that she would get out of his cab but she didn’t want to get out on the interstate. When he refused to move, they had no choice but to exit the vehicle.
A second cab from the same company came by and picked them up, but once that driver spoke with their previously cabbie, he then pulled over and kicked them out of his cab.
Instead of walking along a dark and dangerous interstate, the ladies decided to climb an embankment and scale a nearby fence. Once they were able to flag down a police officer he said he was looking for them, having been dispatched to find two women who had skipped out on their cab fare.
Neal says the officer called the company to let the company know that they would not be paying the fare and then he took them home. The first cabbie has been suspended, and the president of Broadway Cab issued a statement saying the company is dedicated to non-discrimination and diversity.
Oregon state law requires taxis to have working cameras inside of them, and the couple has since hired a lawyer who says the video will demonstrate that Devoll and Neal were discriminated against.
Straight friends are often surprised when I tell them that I am cautious about when and where I show affection to Katie in public. If we are alone and not in a “gay-friendly” area of town, I am more reluctant to hold her hand or give her a kiss on the cheek.
And if I do decide to show her affection in areas I am unsure about, that decision feels like an act of rebellion rather than something natural any couple would participate in.
Holding hands is something straight couples take for granted. For gay couples, it could be a catalyst for a hate crime.
Earlier this year a gay couple in California was kicked out of a mall for holding hands and kissing. In the past several years a lesbian couple was kicked out of a Gertrude Stein exhibit in San Francisco (of all places) for holding hands, and a lesbian couple was told, after kissing at a Minnestoa Twins game, that kissing in public violated the Ten Commandments.
If a man and a woman were told to stop holding hands or kissing in public, it would be laughable. But for gay couples, thought has to go into that simple act when it happens in public, especially gay women who may be easier targets.
Fortunately for Neal and Devoll, they arrived home safe thanks to a Portland police officer who treated them with respect.
As our laws become more and more inclusive, we have to remember that equality isn’t just about the law, sometimes it means just being able to get a safe ride home.