'Hate Crimes Won't be Tolerated': Internet Rallies Support for Lesbians Assaulted for Not Kissing
The incident has triggered a conversation on social media on how homophobia faced by lesbians is subtly different from the homophobia faced by gay men as it is also sexist and misogynistic in nature.
Melania Geymonat and her partner Chris were attacked for standing up to homophobia on a London bus | Image: Twitter
The recent homophobic attack on a lesbian couple inside a London double-decker bus has triggered many on social media. On May 30, two women, Melania Geymonat, 28, from Uruguay and her girlfriend Chris from the US were traveling on the double decker bus to Camden Town in north London at 2.30 am when they were attacked by a group of men.
The men, upon realising that the women were a couple, started harassing them and asking them to kiss while making rude and sexualised hand gestures, AFP reported. When the women refused to kiss each other for their entertainment, the men beat them up, leaving them both with bloodied faces.
In a Facebook post, Geymonat describes the incident, "They started behaving like hooligans, demanding that we kissed so they could enjoy watching, calling us 'lesbians' and describing sexual positions," she wrote.
The harrowing tale did not end there. "It was only them and us there. They kept on harassing us, throwing us coins and becoming more enthusiastic about it. The next thing I know is that Chris is in the middle of the bus fighting with them. On an impulse, I went over there only to find her face bleeding and three of them beating her up. The next thing I know is I'm being punched."
According to a report in the BBC, they initially tried to diffuse the situation when the men first took notice and started harassing them. They pretended to crack jokes and not take the matter seriously. However, the assault soon followed.
The incident was widely condemned on social media and even British Prime Minster Theresa May condemned athe "sickening" assault. Many on social media have since been posting on how homophobia against lesbians is subtly different from the homophobia faced by gay men.Twitter user Moira Donnegan outlined how "by being sexually unavailable to men, lesbians can provoke violent consequences from straight people who believe that women who decline to exist in service to men are selfish, dangerous, and worthy of punishment".
Homophobia functions very differently for gay men and lesbians. Gay men are offensive to straight people because they have sex with men. Lesbians are offensive to straight people because they do not have sex with men. https://t.co/sNMK9TEveP— Moira Donegan (@MoiraDonegan) June 7, 2019
Others also agreed that the fact that they were two women together made the nature of the attack not just homophobic but also deeply misogynistic.
Horrified by the attack on a lesbian couple in Camden. It’s really really important to emphasises that the way that attack happened was because they were two *women*. Lesbians and bi women are harrassed in public because of male entitlement as well as homophobia— shon faye. (@shonfaye) June 7, 2019
Thinking about all the times I’ve been in public with a girlfriend and a man thought our being together was an invitation to talk to us, touch us, make us into an object of their fantasies. Lesbians even in progressive cities are not safe https://t.co/7EPYk88dnb— Shannon Keating (@skeatings) June 7, 2019
Won’t be RT the images of the lesbian couple who got attacked but I just want to add people really don’t understand men’s deep rooted desire to control and make lesbians submissive to them. They absolutely get off on it and there are entire p*rn genres centered on JUST that— Leo (@butchrose_) June 7, 2019
Lesbians and queer women do not exist to fulfill straight men’s fantasies These men responded to gay women refusing to perform their sexuality and relationship for them with violence and hate. #heteropatriarchyhttps://t.co/yIlnqTNsP7— Women's March (@womensmarch) June 7, 2019
I feel like when describing violence towards lesbians it's important to say lesbophobia rather than homophobia + misogyny which is reductive; we aren't gay women, we're lesbians & there's smtg to be said about that difference.— Døkølø the Dyke (@thiccnsapphicc) June 8, 2019
Many pointed out that the attack, though disturbing, was not very surprising as a it was a direct result of the constant fetishisation on lesbian women. While many sections of the global queer community argue that lesbians have more acceptance than other strands of sexual orientation, netizens pointed out that sexualisation and fetishisation as popularised by porn is not acceptance.
There are lots of men who are outraged about the lesbians getting beaten up on the bus who have also made jokes to queer women about watching them/filming them/having threesomes with them. This is an extreme manifestation of a very, very common behaviour.— Niamh Ní Mhaoileoin (@niamhsquared) June 7, 2019
full offence but if you think lesbians are “more privileged” than the rest of the lgbt community please educate yourself, fetishisation ≠ acceptance https://t.co/w7CDKpTWIh— not kate (@vclkyric) June 7, 2019
Yet others expressed their support for the couple and commented on the bravery of the two in the face of discrimination and abuse.
Our thoughts are with Melania and Chris. We send a strong message of support to the pair and stand full square with them. Hate Crime cannot and will not be tolerated and the perpetrators must be brought to justice.— forum+ (@forumplus) June 7, 2019
God bless you both. #sobrave— kumar (@mahendraila1955) June 7, 2019
Speaking to Metro UK after the incident, Geymonat who moved to UK earlier in February said: ‘What upsets me the most is that violence has become a common thing, that sometimes it’s necessary to see a woman bleeding after having been punched to feel some kind of impact."
Meanwhile, her partner Chris told the BBC that she was not scared to be queer, despite the horrific assault. When asked if she would still hold hands with her partner in public, the woman said, "I am not scared about being visibly queer. If anything, you should do it more." However she did add that though she was angry and scared, this was "not a novel situation".
London's Metropolitan Police tweeted that two persons have so far been arrested in connection to the crime.
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