Political and media rhetoric bleed into society, creating at atmosphere where it's OK to openly hate, first on the basis of race and religion, but it spreads as the haters feel increasingly confident... This happened yesterday.
I hear shouts out in the street –
not the boisterous hollering
of schoolkids just released or hormoned teens,
but an altogether uglier “oi, come ‘ere”,
“leave me alone, go away”,
“wot the fuck did you say?”
So my ears prick, I look and see four against one –
the one, a middle-aged man,
a transvestite (yes, in broad daylight!),
skirt and leggings, not a dress –
it’s winter, what do you expect?
The four look like a walking stereotype –
trackies, trainers, crap tatts
and though I try hard not to judge beyond behaviour,
it’s not easy – they’re twenty-something,
way beyond the playground
and still hunting for someone to bully,
their victim’s difference used to excuse
the urge to deliver a kicking.
For a moment I thought about not getting involved,
it was the first time I’d witnessed transphobia first hand,
but I’d heard the stories, none with happy endings
and so I chose to intervene.
By now the four have chased the one
into a local shop where the owners,
a quiet, friendly couple, hide behind the counter,
shocked by the black-hot bile.
I push through to where he’s cornered
and stand doorman-style between parasites and prey,
tell the hate-quartet they’ll have to leave
and won’t be hitting anyone today.
They try to have a go, yell about what he called them,
like that’s the way round it happened,
rant about what he wears,
some rabid shite like ‘it shames real women’,
though through the shower of spit-thick vowels,
I cannot work out how,
nor what makes him dirty, pervy,
worthy of their spite.
I give them my best ‘whatever’ face,
reiterate I will not let them translate hate to hurt,
though I can’t retract their words, and we all know
the sticks-and-stones rhyme doesn’t really work.
The alpha-bigot thinks about bunching a fist
and taking a swing,
meets my gaze, thinks again –
they monkey-walk away,
leaving insults and finger-flips as litter in their wake,
and once across the road, they run.
The one tells the police ‘no need to come’,
nothing to report, to him it’s just an ordinary day.