By Claude Houseworth
Each week, Whole Foods piles up the popular local weekly magazines in the exit doorway area. I usually retrieve one Metro Times and one Real Detroit. I’m not going to lie and say that I’m an avid Between The Lines (BTL) reader. Heck, I’ve even been in the paper once or twice since returning to the area, but I at least check the cover to see who’s on it, and if I find something interesting I pick it up.
This time, before I even thought about looking in that direction, a man was standing behind me. “You don’t even want to bother getting this paper,” he said, “it’s for sodomites.”
It was one of those deer-in-headlights moments that found me lacking in my usual wit and charm. “Uh… ok.” I responded.
“Stores shouldn’t even be allowed to carry this filth. I mean, why would a store leave a magazine out like this for people to read?” he continued. He kept going and before I knew it he had stacked all of the papers into his hands.
I grabbed a copy of one and spoke the only reply I could think of, “Because they think that people might READ it?” He looked at me surprised and then continued on his mission to rid Whole Foods of every copy of this week’s issue.
I followed him to the parking lot. He continued spouting forth his hate rhetoric and by now had added Christianity to his dialogue. “Christ preached love, not hate,” I responded.
“Well, this shit has got to stop” he responded. At that point, I figured I was fighting a losing battle with a man that was going to defend the removal of public property with a sentence that included both “Christ” and “shit.”
I’m quick witted. But I’m not that good.
He took the stack of papers, angrily threw them into the back of his van and drove off. I took a look at his license plate and notified him that I’d be telling the management at the store. And I did. I, then, came home and sent an email to Between The Lines notifying the circulation department of the incident as well.
When I calmed down, I remembered how it used to feel. The beginnings of coming out and going to the local store to pick up the stash of weekly’s in Washington DC. The LGBT weekly paper was and is “The Blade” and in the beginnings of my own coming out process, I used to grab the paper while no one was looking and upon leaving the store, fold the paper over so that anyone who saw me couldn’t immediately identify it.
That was probably 10 years ago, and now here I am dropping a dime on some hate filled mongrel who thinks that he’s somehow going to rid the world of the LGBT community by taking away our community paper.
Let me be clear, for any self-righteous intolerant person that reads this, on just how un-productive this activity is.
First of all, taking this magazine away removes access to information. No, not just the hours of operation at the local Sodomite Brewery. I’m talking about Health and Wellness information (comprising a good 26 percent of this week’s paper). I’m talking about the kind of information you’d want your son or daughter or any loved one to have if he she was not only facing the fear of coming out to an intolerant loved one, but also had to face the challenge of being HIV – positive; or being chemically dependent, etc.
Lack of information and communication in and among our community will not lead to the eradication of the community. I do understand the sensitivity of not leaving adult- themed information around for children, but let’s do some comparison shopping, shall we?
Whereas with BTL, you have to go 20 pages in before you see a man with his shirt off, you only have to go one page in to see an add including a bikini-strapped woman with a suggestive lollipop in her mouth! Did I also mention that the man with his shirt off is Olympic medalist Greg Louganis, for Christ’s sake!?!? The real beefcake doesn’t start until the last five pages or so. And believe me, if BTL were as racy as Real Detroit Weekly, you’d probably only be able to pick it up at “Just 4 Us” in Ferndale.
I took my copy of this week’s paper, not because I wanted to read it or because I believed it would prove more interesting to me than MetroTimes or any of the other weekly papers.
I took it because I could.
I took it in celebration of the fact that it was there. There for me, and there for anyone in need of the information it offered. There are still cities in this country that don’t have the benefit of a Blade or a Between The Lines. I can only imagine how much more isolated they feel within their own community.
Sure, I still have my criticisms of the racial divide in the LGBT Detroit area. Sure I still assume that I’m going to have to flip half-way through BTL before I see a Black face. And sure, I still notice those little moments of pause before picking the paper up.
Who might be watching?
What might they say?
Maybe next time it won’t be a stack full of papers that’s abducted and angrily thrown in the back of someone’s van. Maybe next time it will be me.
In those moments, I remember that we ALL have a long way to go.