Pittsburgh runs one of the best Pride festivals in the country. But a few weeks ago I got a stunning wake up call about homophobia. I was verbally assaulted for the first time in my life for being gay.
There were these two men from a production company outside of the hotel my group was staying at. Weirdly, they were screaming a lot of derogatory comments about us being gay and how all of us "fags" should die.
First, we took it in stride and did not confront the man. Rather, we went to the hotel manager to complain, but he did virtually nothing. Out of respect for the people we were in town working for, we reserved our grievances until the end of the event, when we made a pact to let management know what was going on.
Surprisingly, as we were packing up and the event was coming to a close, these same two men walked in front of our booth, erotically charged as it is with sex toys for men. This time I let them know how I felt. I went off on both of them for their 'hate talk.' It was so amazingly satisfying to vent what I had internalized. In front of a group of over one hundred people, I stood up to my attacker, who backed down and publicly apologized.
I now know what it feels like to be bullied and will do my best from this point forward assisting anyone who needs my help in standing up for themselves. Before this weekend I had no clue how bad it can feel to be bullied, pushed around and scared for your life.
Until this weekend, I had no clue of how proud I can be of myself for standing up to hate-mongrels. I first spent two sleepless nights, almost in fear, because of their threats. But when the moment arose, I seized it. I held them accountable for their words. I think it was one of the most satisfying moments that I can remember.
Special thanks to Diesel Washington for standing with me and giving me the strength to do what I needed to do. North Carolina based Mountain Productions, you have not heard the last of me. You are not going to take that act on the road anymore.
The lesson I learned: We have to stand up for ourselves, no one else is going to do it for us.
Howard Andrews is the owner of Fab Scout Entertainment.