I recently took a road trip with my boyfriend from West Virginia to the Gulf Coast of Florida, traveling through Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Georgia, then back up through Tennessee and Kentucky. I discovered many inconvenient truths about the people I encountered. First, let’s consider the perspective of another LGBT couple in a similar situation. Joanne Spataro wrote a New York Times article titled “The Risks of Traveling While Queer.”
“When my girlfriend, Lara, and I travel on the road, we have to take precautions,” Spataro writes. “We’re constantly on guard against strangers. Lara is a transgender woman of color, and at rest stops I’m never far from her side…Lara doesn’t want to stop at gas stations, and she’ll have me pump gas so that no one can see her and try to size her up.”
Joanne writes of an emotionally disturbing experience when stopping at a gas station felt extraordinarily unsafe: “As I filled the tank and Lara sat in the car, I saw a group of people who could have been extras on ‘Duck Dynasty’ gathered by two pickup trucks. I could feel them glaring at us.”
After leaving the station, Joanne noticed one of the trucks pulled out behind them and followed them down the highway. They turned on their high beams and apparently got off the same exit. At the exit, Lara begged Joanne to stop until the truck disappeared. The truck turned to the right, no longer following them.
They quickly got back on the highway where, Joanne says, “I allowed myself to cry and smack the dashboard in angry relief. In that moment, my life more than flashed before my eyes; it was almost gone in the flash of a headlight.”
She goes on to describe this experience of “harassment” in context of the rise in LGBT hate crimes amid Donald Trump’s presidency. She argues that LGBT travelers need “traveler’s guides that provide information on a county-by-county level about what travelers may encounter while they’re driving in these areas.” She concludes her essay longing for a day when “Lara and I – and countless other L.G.B.T.Q. people – can enjoy safe travel across the United States.”
This Was Impossible for Me to Replicate
In comparison, what was my experience like traveling through the same parts of the country? I stopped at multiple stores that displayed Confederate flag memorabilia, and drove past a very large and prominent Confederate flag along the highway in Georgia. In North Carolina, I stood nearly 10 feet away from several men who sported country attire. One had a rebel flag on his T-shirt.
I passed dozens upon dozens of Christian billboards, signs, and other public displays in every state in which I traveled. I saw the phrase “Jesus Loves You” everywhere I went, and multiple billboards asked, “Where Will You End Up?” with images of Heaven and Hell below.
I traveled alone through Virginia, down through the Carolinas, into Georgia, and through rural Florida, wearing my yarmulke the entire way. After picking up my boyfriend from the airport and spending some time at several theme parks, we drove back up through Georgia, Tennessee, and Kentucky before returning home to West Virginia.
Alone, I walked into multiple gas stations along the highway, and several rest stops. During the trip we visited local attractions, held hands through a theme park and two aquariums, showed affection along the way, and even posed to have a couple portrait drawn. The way home featured a stop at a rural antique shop, more gas stations, restaurants, and rest stops.
While checking out in a North Carolina gas station, a man standing behind me greeted me and asked where I was headed. I told him, without thinking twice about it, “I’m headed to Florida to pick up my boyfriend and spend a week’s vacation along the Gulf Coast.”
It should go without saying that I experienced absolutely no problems. The inconvenient truth I mentioned relates to the difference between how those on the Left imagine average America and what average America is really like. The truth is, while not everyone agrees with how I choose to live or how they perceive who I am, very few choose to express their disapproval. Certainly no one seems particularly interested in intimidating me for the sheer enjoyment of it.
This Scary Incident Could Easily Have Been Made Up
Reading Joanne’s account demonstrates to a liberal a fearful confession of helplessness and trauma caused by intimidation and bullying. While simply wishing to travel freely in their own home state, they encounter cruelty and discrimination.
But from a rational perspective, it appears the entire encounter happened exclusively in their own minds. The women described how they perceived the others around them while assuming malice and hatred. They spot living stereotypes, precisely as they described them, engaging in behavior and motivation exactly as they imagined they would.
As they drive, they imagine the truck is following them and its lights indicate intentional threats to their safety. They break down under the stress of what they have just hallucinated was a life-threatening encounter with the exact type of enemy the LGBT media obsessively warns is waiting for them around every corner. This one experience reveals and validates very fear and anxiety they hold.
It is more likely the travelers they encountered did not even notice them. Joanne stated she “felt” the others were glaring at her and Lara, but describes no actual engagement. Two women in a car is not particularly interesting to most people. Lara, perpetually paranoid about others’ potential reactions, never indicates how random passersby even know Lara is transgender.
As for the truck’s intimidating behavior, this sounds far more like a classic narrative trope from civil rights-era films of southern racists intimidating black individuals. The reality is, on a dark highway in rural America, everyone uses his high-beams to better see the surroundings and watch for deer. It is common to see a car approaching from behind with high-beams on that switches lanes and passes if the driver feels you are going too slow. Certainly, the fact the truck driver turned onto the exit they randomly chose for an escape without continuing to follow them should have indicated a simple misunderstanding. I would bet the truckers involved never even considered this couple at all.
In Psychology, This Is Called Projection
The Left has a profoundly disturbing habit of asserting their personal perception of their surroundings is proof of some grand truth about society. The writer describes a rise in LGBT people reporting harassment immediately after describing as “harassment” a perfectly innocent encounter on the highway with an unknown driver who never once engaged with her and her partner. She was clearly prepared to be victimized and therefore was easily susceptible to confirmation bias when a nicely-fitting scenario presented itself.
Sadly, she never considered the individuals she accuses of such disturbing and malicious behavior. In her worldview, they were already guilty. Joanne imposes the very judgement and prejudice she fears onto them based solely on how they look to her.
The people I encountered throughout the South were perfectly average individuals in every way during our encounter. Cashiers, waiters, retail staff, the artist drawing our photo, and every other person we came across behaved politely and within the normal limits of engaging with strangers. My yarmulke and boyfriend never seemed to affect the equation. He and I are neither shy about our affection nor overly demonstrative, but it is easy to tell we are a couple. We never once felt threatened.
For me this is the fundamental difference between minorities on the Right and on the Left. While the Left assumes guilt, the Right assumes normalcy unless proven otherwise. I also do not expect most people to be cruel, homophobic, or anti-Semitic, so if I happen to encounter a person who is any of these things I view him as a strange outlier. Joanne and most of the LGBT world view it as proof of their overall belief in the generalized bigotry of the American population.
Suspicions Can Create Animosity Where There Was None
It is possible that two women cautiously approaching a gas station, one darting her eyes and head back and forth, eyeing her environment while the other runs around the car to frantically get gas as quickly as possible, might raise some eyebrows. If people behave strangely, other people will notice and be suspicious. If these women were to simply approach each new situation with an assumption of normalcy, they would likely find most people friendly, polite, or generally uninterested in them. Attitude matters, and when a person is looking for a fight, he or she will generally find conflict.
The more the LGBT Left spreads fear like this, the more LGBT individuals will anticipate hatred and bigotry in otherwise innocent strangers, behaving suspiciously or hostilely. Naturally this will cause others to respond with equal suspicion and possible hostility, validating the self-fulfilling fears of the LGBT individuals. The LGBT Left is so determined to see the worst in humanity, they manufacture it from whole cloth and report it as repeated, factual experience.
The vast majority of people are good, kind, and perfectly normal individuals who simply do not care about the various minority statuses of those around them. Routine normalcy should outweigh the far rarer report of outrageous intimidation or abuse. I challenge people to think back to the last time they witnessed a bigoted, hateful, or outright abusive attack on a minority in an otherwise everyday situation.
If this continues, people will begin to resent being the anonymous villains of liberal victim fantasies used solely to perpetuate political narratives. In the meantime, LGBT individuals’ obsession with victimhood denies them the simple joy of enjoying normalcy and equality in everyday life. They miss out on the comforting realization that few care who you are and only care who you are to them.
In the most free and accepting time for LGBT people in our nation’s history, they choose to imagine what oppression must be like instead. They create their own anxiety, fear, and sense of discrimination. In my experience, the only person aware of my minority status is me. Everyone else could not care less.