If you don’t know the Spanish word maricon, it’s a derogatory word for a gay person, like “faggot” in English. I heard this on the street the other night, and was pleasantly surprised by the outcome.
It was late at night and we’d been out having drinks with visiting friends. Standing at a taco truck in our neighborhood for post-drinking-pre-bed street food, a young Hispanic woman walked past us. We didn’t think anything of it, until we heard a trio of people (two guys and a girl, probably in their late teens or early twenties) approach her talking loudly. They were clearly upset about something.
I didn’t really pay much attention until they started circling her threateningly, and one of them said loudly, with evident disgust, “Fucking maricon!” Then it clicked.
She was either a drag queen or transgender. (And if you don’t know the difference, I’d be happy to explain.) And this guy was showing off just how macho and tough he was, by harassing her on the street, just for being who she is.
I remember thinking to myself, “Oh, hell no!” and Sal and I walked away from the taco truck and quickly halved the distance between us and the confrontation. Thinking back, I have to laugh at myself, pulling my hoodie down and squaring up like I’m some kind of tough guy. In retrospect, I’m sure I looked silly, but regardless: not in our neighborhood, asshole. (And come on, Roosevelt Avenue late at night is full of gay people as folks leave the gay bars, so who did you expect to see on the street, jackass?)
The loudest one, who was clearly the ringleader, went so far as to push her but then (out of a lack of steam or a brief moment of cognitive thinking) seemed to realize that he’d gone far enough, and they left her alone and started walking towards our group.
As they passed us, clearly misunderstanding our interest, Ringleader’s girlfriend helpfully informed us, “That’s a guy!” and Ringleader chimed in — just in case we weren’t grasping the situation — with, “He’s got a dick!”
Not looking to provoke a fight, but wanting to get my point across, I answered back with, “Who cares? She didn’t do anything to you, just let her go on about her night!” They sneered and kept walking.
I went up to her and told her that I was so sorry that had happened to her. And up close, I gotta tell you: she looked hot! Again, I don’t know if she was dressed that way for fun or entertainment, or if her fulltime gender expression is female, but either way, she had her stuff together.
Now, here’s where it gets good: knowing that Roosevelt Avenue is where a lot of the Jackson Heights nightlife happens, and with this particular spot being right across from the large subway station, there are often police around late at night. Two officers came over at that moment, asked if she was okay, and asked if they’d actually touched her.
She confirmed that they had, and looked at me for validation. “You saw it, right?” I confirmed that they had, pointed in the direction that the trio had walked, and told the cops where they’d turned off the main street. The officers took off after them at a brisk pace, I’m sure just to give ’em a warning or something similarly low key, but still, it was great to see.
One of the things that I love about my neighborhood is that it’s incredibly diverse. All sorts of people live here, from different cultures and backgrounds, speaking many different languages, but generally all getting along. It’s nice to see on the rare occasion when people can’t mind their own business that it’s not tolerated.