This morning – at least in Australia – we’ve woken up to news that, unsurprisingly, Donald Trump big noted himself by telling a journalist that as a star he could get away with grabbing strange women by the pussy.
This post isn’t about that. It’s not even about strange women. It’s about the women I knew when I was baby Queen, the behaviour I portrayed, and how in hindsight I really should have known better.
I was a titty-grabber.
No sugar coating it. There’s no need. I used to think it was funny. I never once stopped for a second to consider that it was inappropriate. I was gay. They were my friends. It was a laugh. I’ve come to realise as I’ve aged it wasn’t appropriate nor was it a laugh. While my friends may well have laughed it off at the time it made them uncomfortable and for that I apologise.
I can even remember sucking someone’s boob at the Stonewall one night for drinks. To be fair, she did have her boob out and in my face before the bartender finished saying “suck her tit and you both drink for free for the rest of the night,” but I tell this because while she didn’t mind and neither did I (it wasn’t the first time) it could easily have been inappropriate. I didn’t think that night beyond “free booze.”
It isn’t a behaviour I’ve continued to do.
As we all grew up and grew older it seemed to just stop on it’s own. Same with my absolutely useless party trick of being able to undo a bra with two fingers. And while it’s not something I would do now it is something that back it the day I did without thought. I never considered the people I was doing it to would see it as anything other than a joke.
As a gay man I meant nothing but the laugh that would come but that is no excuse. It’s part of the entitlement I guess that see’s me look at tweets like Trump’s and condemn the man now.
But what is the difference between him grabbing a woman’s pussy and me grabbing a friends boob when I was 24 and out for a night of drunken stupidity.
Being gay does not give men an excuse to be an arsehole. To be blunt, as gay men, we should know better.
I recently read an article from a lady in the Sydney Star Observer – I think. She talked about how gay men never hesitated to grab her boob. The comments (from the gays) were vicious. While I was reading the post I thought back on my younger days.
I remembered one friend punching me, another laughing and swatting my hand away and I found myself thinking “Fuck is this what they were thinking? Was I that much of a jack ass”.
While I don’t remember anyone saying “no” I also don’t remember anyone saying yes either. I never bothered to ask before I grabbed so permission never crossed my mind.
I can’t take back that behaviour and it’s easy to type “I was young and dumb” but the fact remains I did what I thought I was funny with no thought to how my female friends felt.
So I take this opportunity to not only admit that I did was wrong but to apologise without reserve to anyone I made feel uncomfortable or embarrassed. Intentions be damned. It’s about how I made others feel.
If I ever made you feel less of a person, or uncomfortable, you have my heartfelt apology and my commitment to do better. As a 43 year old I can honestly say “I’d never do that”, but as a 24 year old I did.
And to those men – gay and straight – who have done similar things writing it off as a joke doesn’t make it one. It is at best an invasion. Keep your hands to yourself.
If you want to joke with female friends, tell them a knock-knock joke. Honestly, looking back on it I’m surprised at least 2 of the women I’ve known didn’t tell me a punch-punch joke.
People crap on feminists like Clementine Ford for standing up; for being vocal about her body and her right to decide who see’s it or who touches it. I saw a bunch of whinny arse tweets from men my age and older about her book release. Her book Fight Like A Girl was written for a reason.
I fully understand why people like Clementine Ford are vocal. Someone needs to stand up for the girls that aren’t and frankly it’s a shame the men around them aren’t doing it when they see other men behaving like fuckwits.
Here’s the thing.
If men treated women with the respect they deserve people like Clementine Ford wouldn’t have to be advocates for social change. My behaviour as a young queen embarrasses me today. It makes me feel like I was an idiot. And you know what; I was. I knew better. I did it anyway.
The other thing is if anyone did that to a woman I know, or a girl, I’d break their fingers. You touch one of my family, my friends and I’ll make you wish you’d decided to pick your nose in public instead. Again that’s with hindsight but hypocritical or not I’d make you aware of how inappropriate you are.
As someone whose body was used against them by others I should have known better. I didn’t. And for that I apologise. I promise to do better. And I promise to say something, to stand up, when I see others behaving as I used to.