“Stop Showing Affection in Public”

Shoshan Veber and her girlfriend were told “not to say loving things to each other” by an LGBTphobe man on the bus to Petach Tikvah. “The exclusion I go through as a woman and the exclusion and hatred I experienced as a lesbian are the same,” she writes.

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My partner doesn’t like to, so called, “show affection in public.” To me it looks like a primeval fear, but she says it’s just a matter of precaution. It’s now makes sense, considering that less than a month ago a girl was killed by stabbing, but I’m naive.

We came back yesterday from a concert. Contented and satisfied we sat in the bus on the line from Tel Aviv to Petah Tikva, and in the seat across from us sat a less happy man, around age 35, who was shaking with rage, clenched his fists and muttered, “Enough! Enough already!” — It looked like he was talking to himself until he turned directly to us and said to my partner angrily, “Stop it already! Or I’ll slap you on your face!”

All bus went silent.

“Enough with these love talks! It disgusts me! Disgusting! Repulsive! Stop or I’ll slap you!” He shouted, and added, “I’ll beat you up even though you’re a woman!”

She answered calmly (and particularly shockingly) that if something doesn’t suit him, it’s big bus and there’s plenty of room so he can move to another seat. But he yelled back that not only it does not intend to move, but that we will stop talking, or else he would beat us.

At this point a man who was sitting near us intervened and told him to calm down and another woman told him that he was really not going to beat anyone, but the man began to scream even louder. I looked around and tried to think who among the passengers would jump on him in case he started beating us, but all the other people just turned their head away or sat there silent. And even though I thought in my mind that there’s no way in the world I’d get up because of him, I got up, because he had fire in their eyes and I was afraid, and I went to the driver and told him that one of the passengers is threatening me (the driver response:” What do you want me to do? If you have a problem then call the police”- Hold on, for sure I can call a police car to follow a driving bus.)

When it was all over and the man got off the bus I tried to recall what we did to upset him so much. We didn’t kiss, nor hugged, in fact – we did not demonstrate affection at all. The truth was that it is irrelevant whether we spoke “words of love” as he put it, but it was simply related to the fact that I look like a lesbian, and she looks like a lesbian, and we don’t hide that our visibility.

I write this while I’m on a bus in Jerusalem. When I sat down in one of the vacant seats next to religious man he made uncomfortable faces at me and said angrily that it’s a problem for him and I asked me not to sit next to him. I told him that if he doesn’t sit next to women he’s invited to get up and move to another seat. He really did. Angrily, but he moved away. And I believe this is exactly the same – the exclusion I go through as a woman and the exclusion and hatred I experienced as a lesbian – are the same, because if something bothers you – you can just choose to look the other way. But as soon as you ask * me * to go away because you have a problem – that’s another story.

I’ll probably continue being naive because I can’t stand the fact that I have to hide because for some people my love doesn’t look good. My girlfriend Yasmin will probably continue to balance us to be cautious and “wait with the kiss to until we get home” because she knows that people for whom my love doesn’t look good sometimes have a knife.

And the truth is that we are simply not protected on the streets. The silence on the bus, the driver’s contempt – it’s all part of it. Many people have a problem with women and LGBT people, and many people expect us to move elsewhere and not them. It’s 2015 and we were almost beaten up yesterday in the bus.