In a story that ran on Huffington Post, J.W. Harvey recalled how he and his roommates recently opened their door to find anti-gay graffiti scrawled across it in sunblock. Apparently, a neighbor’s son had written “U Gay bitches, LOL” on the door, with an accompanying illustration of a male member.
Rather than call child services (our first thought), Harvey composed a letter to the tots’ parents:
Dear Residents of Apartment 24,
We would like to (finally!) introduce ourselves as the residents of apartment 21, or, as young Cazen and his young friends so accurately vandalized on our door the night of March 2nd, the “gay bitches” of apartment 21.
The party you were hosting sounded like a lot of fun, so we understand how you may have been too preoccupied to notice that your children were loose in the building at midnight, marking our property with homophobic graffiti.
For months now, we have dealt with your children throwing rocks, CDs, tennis balls, and various other unknowns across the ally at our kitchen window, and we have largely dismissed their behavior as understandably, well, childish.
But now, we need this behavior to stop. As it is yours, this is our building, our neighborhood, our home, and we want nothing more than to peacefully coexist. Well, that’s not completely true; we want to be seen and respected as equals, and we want you to teach your children to accept everyone for who they are, regardless of their minority status, but we won’t demand that. Because what we really want is to live without having to explain our humanity to our neighbors.
I plan to leave the graffiti on our door for two reasons. First, we ARE an apartment of gay men (and can be quite bitchy!), and we are not ashamed to be labeled as who we are. Second, I hope that you will encourage your children to clean their graffiti off of our door themselves.
Don’t forget to buy Cazen more sunblock; sunny weather is right around the corner!
J.W., Matthew, and Primo
The roommates did, however, call the NYPD and report a hate crime —maybe a bit of overkill, especially since it was Cazen’s birthday. But the cops came to the neighbors at 2:30am and eventually a teary-eyed Cazen shambled down the hall to wipe off the evidence of his bigotry.
Harvey took the opportunity to talk to the young not-quite-a-man.
“Be honest with me. When you throw stuff at our kitchen window, is this what you think of us?”
“I don’t know. I guess.”
“When you look me in the eye right now, is this what you see me as?”
“No. You’re not,” as his eyes started to water.
“Then why? What makes you think that we are?”
“We see you guys dancing and stuff in your kitchen from my bedroom.”
“And if we are, what’s wrong with that? Don’t we have the right to be happy, just like you?”
“Yes,” as he contemplated.
“If you — you missed a spot — if you really think that. Do me a favor. Talk to your friends.”
“Ok,” as he cleaned “lol” off our door.
“The police can talk to them, I can talk to them — you missed a spot — but they will listen to you.”
“Ok,” nodding and holding back tears.
“Thank you,” I said, putting my hand on his shoulder and locking eyes. “This is very serious, and you cannot treat us like this again, for any reason. Even if you don’t like someone, you have to respect them.”
“Yes, sir. I’m sorry. I do.”
“You can go back to bed. It’s too dark right now, but if I wake up in the morning and I see sunblock smudges in the daylight, I will knock on your door and ask you to clean it again,” I said, pretending not to see the greasy smears that remained.
“Thank you. And happy birthday.”
We have to say, if this story is true, we’re impressed with how Harvey took the time to speak with young Cazen. We might’ve just ratted him out to his mom and let him take his lumps—figurative or otherwise.
Would you have handled things differently? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!