Jeremy threw a nice little Labor Day party last night. About 10 of us from the chorus sat around talking and drinking and singing along with CDs for a couple hours, and then we all headed out the door to walk to the new sports bar that just opened up about five blocks from his house.
We had barely all gotten out his door and onto the sidewalk when two black women standing at a window on the third floor across the street saw us and yelled "FAGGOTS!" down at us.
Now, whether or not they could tell we were gay -- hell, whether or not we actually were all gay -- is of no importance compared to the fact that these women knew it was perfectly OK to yell "FAGGOTS!" at a sizeable crowd of complete strangers in a population-dense neighborhood and that they would suffer no repercussions. No significant reaction from us. No threats of violence from other gay people in the vicinity. No horrified stares from their more civilized neighbors. Nothing.
And they were right. We just ignored them and kept on walking.
But had we yelled "NIGGERS!" back at them -- which none of us would do, of course, though we would be perfectly within our rights for doing so, and it would be the most logical retort in an insult war since all we knew about them was that they were black (and obviously combative assholes) -- we could very well have set off a scene that could realistically involve angry neighbors pouring out in the streets, threats and/or acts of violence, police involvement, and maybe even coverage on the next night's news.