Lesbian targeted in Washington County hate crime

I have been blessed to feel very safe in most of the places I have lived. Surely, in Portland I walk hand in hand with whomever I please and ride my bike alone at night. So I forget that it is certainly still possible, even in this accepting place, to be the victim of a hate crime.

Last Tuesday night a woman in Washington County was attacked after admitting she was gay.

Near the intersection with Southwest Alexander Street, the woman noticed she was being followed by a man, who eventually called out and asked for a cigarette, said Sgt. David Thompson, spokesman for the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

When she said she didn’t smoke, Thompson said the man asked the woman if she was gay.

“The suspect became angry and told the woman ‘that was disgusting,’ and said she was going to hell,” Thompson said.

A scuffle followed, he added. The woman was pushed to the ground, but she got up and fought back.

Thompson said the attacker hit the woman in the face, again knocking her to the ground.

But perhaps more saddening are many of the comments below this news post.

Some tend to believe that the story is fabricated. It’s actually pretty basic and believable to me. Yes, people really do ask blatant and stupid questions and then do stupid things. I may never have been physically beaten but I’ve certainly been called a “dyke” and a “fag” from passing cars. That’s just part of life for queers and I’m so used to it I hardly even think of it as a hate crime. If you have never become accustomed to harassment I suppose you might tend to think it’s absurd. I assure you it’s not. That just means you’re unaware.

Yet others seem to think that it is no big deal. And indeed, they are right that if a man was attacked and called “man” in the street, it may not get the same attention. (Or maybe it would, because who uses “man” as an insult?).

A hate crime does draw more media. That’s part of the point. We’re trying to expose the violence associated with bigotry to make it known that it was not just a random incident but one with meaning. It was an incident that acceptance and education and help eradicate in the future. And that is why it deserves special attention.

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