Or so I was told this afternoon while cycling home from campus. Someone, a student of ours I suspect, hung out of the window of a passing pickup truck and screamed at the top of his lungs: "Heeaw! Heeaw! Heeaw! You're a faggot!" I wish I could come up with the onomatopeic spelling of the yell that preceeded the slur, but I'm not going to dwell on that as it isn't all that important.
For some reason my initial impulse to flip the person off and make some smart remark (the best of which didn't come to mind until the pickup was well down the road and out or earshot) was so short lived I didn't have time to take my hands from the handlebars. And then, as I'm wont to do when biking, my mind drifted into a variety of tangents on being called a faggot.
It's been a long time since someone called me a faggot. The implication is that I'm a weenie of sorts, I guess, for riding a bike. The thing is, I think I'm not much of a weenie for riding my bike in sub-freezing weather. This morning the temperature was about 14F when I set off for campus and maybe in the mid-20s on the way home. Hardly softie weather. Not that I'm particularly butch, at a pudgy 200 pounds and the age of 50. Anything but. Still, a weenie, a faggot, for riding my bike in the cold, ice and snow? Whatever.
This kind brings me around to the perils of being a bicycle commuter. Generally speaking, with snow and ice covering half of the lanes, esepcially on two lane roads, I get a whole lane to myself. It's actually a bit safer because cars don't feel like they have to get by me and squeeze me into the gutter. But for some, even when I'm not even close to being in their way, they seem, or act, threatened by such a simple act. Maybe they've bought into the tyranny of the majority in the way John Stuart Mill and Alexis de Tocqueville describe it, so much so that they don't even know it. They've been cowed into thinking manliness comes from driving a pickup and only faggots ride their bikes, in the cold and snow in particular. Who knows. Maybe he was just a closeted faggot himself. Me? I'm just a bicyclist.