Risky gay PDA

Melissa Carter sounds off on re­cent anti-gay in­ci­dents.

GA Voice - - Front Page - Melissa Carter is also a writer for Huff­in­g­ton Post. She broke ground as the first out les­bian ra­dio per­son­al­ity on a ma­jor sta­tion in At­lanta and was one of the few out morn­ing show per­son­al­i­ties in the coun­try. Fol­low her on Twit­ter @Melis­saCarter

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.

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