The sad thing is, I could probably name a ton of incidents that have happened to me over the years where I felt blatantly disrespected. I don’t generally like to focus on things like this but I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting recently and when I do this, I can’t help but encounter incidents where I was blatantly disrespected. So I’m going to share some of them.
When I was in primary school, I used to have a number of friends who were boys. One time, while I was hanging out with a group of them, one turned to me and told me he had something funny to tell me. He went on to inform me that his father always called me “Gayvid” behind my back to him and his family. After telling me this, he erupted into laughter and I think he expected me to do the same. The group of friends around me all laughed quite uncertainly but I couldn’t even muster a smile. I was horrified. At that time I hadn’t accepted the fact that I was gay and hearing that one of my friend’s family members thought it was funny to label me as such in what was really quite a derogatory way really disturbed me. I think I was only nine or ten at this point, but this is one of my most vivid memories of feeling intense anger at a young age.
I was quite a funky teenager in some ways. I used to take quite a unique road when it came to accessories, especially considering that I was living as a teenage boy in a rural town at the time. One of my big obsessions was with hats. I still love my hats but nowadays they fit in to my style a lot more than the trilbies of my past used to. I remember one evening my friends and I were hanging out in my local village and I was wearing a blue trilby that I’d just bought. I thought I looked quite lovely and a lot of my girlfriends agreed. But it wasn’t long before a boy (who I’d never particularly liked) in my friend group snatched it off my head and threw it over a fence.
This was generally a common pattern amongst the males in my friend group (with a few exceptions). They accepted me and my style to an extent, but there was always this tendency to make jokes about my accessories or my clothing. Snatching that hat from my head was this boy’s way of telling me that he didn’t want me to wear it. I had to pretend to find this funny, because no one in my teenage group ever caused a stir in any way (I know. I’m shocked that I ever had the ability to shut up as well). Before I sound as though I’m completely dissing the entire male species, I feel it’s necessary to disclose that many of the boys in my group condemned what he did and actually helped me to get the hat back. It took us ages but I was extremely grateful that they would do such a thing.
Before we go giving them too much credit though, here’s a horrific tale about a hat that I used to own. I had this green beret that I absolutely adored. I received a lot of scoffs anytime I wore it from both my family and friends. They didn’t think it was at all fashionable. Nevertheless, I wore it with a heart and a half, not caring that other people weren’t into the look.
I went to a New Year’s Eve party in one of our friend’s houses. It was an extremely messy affair (as most of my teenage parties were) where everyone got extremely drunk and engaged in some questionable behaviour (myself excluded of course Mam). I arrived wearing a wine trench coat and the green beret. I threw them on a couch somewhere and when I left that night, I (in my sobre state) forgot my beret.
I stayed at a friend’s house that night and when I woke up the next morning I had a number of snapchats from the boys who’d stayed on at the party after us. I was absolutely horrified to see pictures of my beret in a toilet after two boys who I’d thought were my friends had each taken shits on it. I still can’t really comprehend it either.
Even thinking back on this now feels absolutely humiliating. I never really tell anyone this story because I was so ashamed that anyone would treat me like that. I loved that hat and would probably still wear it to this day if it hadn’t been for its tragic end. At the time I also excused the boys who took the pictures, disregarding them as not really being involved, but nowadays I’m well aware that they probably had a big part to play in the whole disgusting affair.
I could tell you about an awful lot of disrespect that I received over the years while online dating but a particular one that springs to mind is a message that I received at Electric Picnic. I think I only checked my online dating app twice while I was at the festival as I was enjoying myself way too much to focus on it, but at one point I was disgusted to find this message:
My straight mate wants to see proof that you’re actually a guy. Care to oblige him?
To think that this guy clearly showed his “straight mate” a picture of me and the boy wanted to see a picture of my penis as proof that I’m “a guy” makes me sick. People really can be vile sometimes can’t they?
I could go on with this list if I wanted to, but I think that’s quite enough for the time being. I didn’t actually start out intending for this list to only include disrespect that I’ve received from the male species but take from that what you will. The one thing that I’ve consistently demanded during my time on this earth is respect for me and for my place in the world. Even so, it can be tough to think back on times that I had to endure incidents like this.
Watch my poem outlining my treatment as a transgender person:
Read about a particularly bad day of harassment that I experienced here.