“Oh, it’s THAT day of the year again,” Willis opined to Gerald as they settled into a double seat on the streetcar. “Careful the seat isn’t already covered in glitter and who knows what else.
“I mean, really, what must their parents think? This… lifestyle. SUCH an embarrassment. I can’t imagine. How horrible it must be for them. To have your children grow up to be like… this…” Willis gestured widely at the streetcar’s interior, indicating twenty or so people dressed in sparkly clothing, feather boas, and rainbow-themed shirts, his voice full of disdain and intentionally loud enough to be heard.
People turned away, annoyed and disgusted, intent on ignoring Willis and his speechifying.
He continued on in the same vein for a number of blocks, his audience expanding; more people getting on at each stop as the streetcar rolled closer to the downtown core, clearly headed for the parade or other Pride festivities. Once they clocked his presence and began to understand what was going on, they made efforts to move to the front of the vehicle, away from Willis’s ranting. Those who could not switch seats sat uncomfortably, some glaring in Willis’s direction, some holding back tears, comforting one another by hugging and holding hands while maintaining a brave face.
Throughout the whole trip, Gerald said nothing, unable to get a word in as Willis continued to opine.
“I mean, the bible says love the sinner, hate the sin, and I believe that, I really do, they should be forgiven if they can be NORMAL, but it’s still just horrible to even think about… I mean, it absolutely IS a choice and they should all be choosing God!”
The woman seated directly in front of Willis stood up and turned around to face him. A man stood up beside her. “I’ve been listening to your bigoted, homophobic bullshit since you got on, and I’m sick of it. You need to shut up right now.”
Willis, not used to being interrupted, and certainly not used to be questioned, was taken aback, but tried to rally. “Well, they’re SINNERS, surely that’s clear.”
“No they’re not sinners,” the woman replied. “You are. For your bigotry and homophobia. Your God loves everyone equally, with no qualifiers. You’re the only sinner on this streetcar, sir! Now shut your mouth because nobody here is interested in what you have to say!”
“That’s not fair, I’m entitled to my opinion…”
“That may be,” said the man, stepping into the aisle, “but nobody here is obligated to listen to it. You need to mind your own business and let these folks celebrate their day. They’re not hurting you, so shut up and keep your thoughts to yourself.”
The man and woman moved towards the exit.
“You’re not… you’re not even LIKE them,” Willis said, incredulous. “How can you defend them?”
“Because they’re human beings who are not hurting us, or you. They’re just trying to live their lives and be happy. Ask your God, he’ll tell you,” the woman replied as a hand reached out from a row of seats to touch her arm in thanks.
The couple departed and Willis looked at the faces of the other passengers. A few made pointed eye contact but most looked away, wanting to get to their destination and get on with their celebrations.
“I never,” Willis declared in a loud voice. “Can you believe that?”
“Well…” Gerald said with only a hint of trepidation, but slightly excited that he was being given a chance to speak. “She’s kind of got a point. I mean… Until today, I always though you were…”
“I was what? Gerald, what are you on about?”
“Gay,” Gerald said to Willis. “I always though you were gay. Aren’t you?”
This story is part of a week-long series of Pride-themed flash fiction. Check out the full schedule here.