Nice Purse, Faggot. No Wonder You’re Crippled.

Purse“All parents should be aware that when they mock or curse gay people, they may be mocking or cursing their own child.” – Anna Quindlan

So, yesterday my wife and I took our niece and nephew toddlers to Chuck-E-Cheese so my sister-in-law and her husband could celebrate her birthday. I actually like Chuck-E-Cheese, as well as arcades in general. The Chuck-E-Cheese closest to my house is relatively new and very handicap accessible. All the spots in front of the establishment are painted in that oh-so-welcoming blue, and there isn’t a step, stair or bump in sight. Getting in and out, as well as around the establishment in a wheelchair is extremely easy, and the place is clean as a pin. But, yesterday was Sunday, which means the afternoon patrons were mostly the after church crowd. That’s when I ran into

The Bigots…

First, a back story. As many of you know, I carry a purse. I’ve got a few of them, including the black lambskin leather one pictured above – which is what I had with me at Chuck-E-Cheese. I’ve carried some sort of handbag for many years. I don’t like filling all my pants pockets with all the stuff I want and/or need to carry, and asking my wife to cram all of my stuff into her purse is not really fair, as she has her own stuff to carry.

As well, I sit down a lot. Sometimes in a wheelchair, sometimes not, but I don’t do that whole “stand” thing very well. Consequently, I am willing to endure our society’s rather silly issue over men carrying a purse so I do not have to deal with,

  1. Having to dig through my pockets while sitting.
  2. Losing stuff by having it fall out of my pockets.
  3. Breaking or crushing things by sitting on them.
  4. Not carrying something with me that I want to.

In case you are wondering…

  • Wallet
  • Cellphone
  • Charger
  • Headset
  • Checkbooks
  • Cigarettes
  • Lighters
  • Handicap Placard
  • Medication
  • Medical Alerts
  • Digital Camera
  • Electronic Cigarette
  • Eyeglass Cleaner
  • Pens / Notepad
  • Business Cards
  • Other Stuff

Fedorable2I’ve long since gotten used to the strange looks, which gives me a certain amount of freedom in my choice of other aspects of wardrobe, such as my penchant for fedoras, my love of loose-fitting shirts with floral prints and the ability to not only match my accessories to what I am wearing, but to coordinate my entire outfits with what my wife is wearing. Hence, when we go out, we are utterly adorable together.

Besides, carrying a briefcase while not conducting business is a tad pretentious and any other form of baggage, like a knapsack, is pretty much luggage and completely impractical given the amount of stuff I carry with me. Plus, there are some really cool purses out there. One of my favorites in my collection is the replica of the bag that Zach Galifianakis carries in the uber-hilarious movie, “The Hangover.

But I digress…  

Back to Chuck-E-Cheese. I am happily playing Skee-Ball, sitting in my wheelchair with my purse on my lap, along with a digital camera (I was taking pictures of my niece and nephew), and a little plastic cup full of tokens – when the church van pulls in. I knew it was a church van, even though I couldn’t read the writing on it (I was below the window sill level), as out poured about a dozen youth that looked to be about eight or ten years old, three older teens that looked to be about 15 or so, and a pastor that eerily resembled Reverend Kane from the Poltergeist movies.

KaneOne of the younger kids wanders over toward where I was sitting and stops dead in his tracks. He is staring at me. At first, I just chalked it up to the fact that young kids tend to stare at people in wheelchairs. That fact has been the catalyst to some very insightful conversations with children and their parents about disabilities, etc. This was not one of those times, apparently.

The kid runs away and comes back with another little boy. They are standing there, giggling.  They wander off after a few minutes, but the original one returned a short while later with one of the older teens, a girl who looked to be about fifteen. This got my attention, particularly when she bent down and whispered into the young boy’s ear while making the international sign for “the gay,” which consists of making a limp wrist.

Big Brother…

After about five minutes of peace following the departure of the teenager and her charge, the girl returns with another teenager. He looked to be slightly older than her, and upon gazing at me, scrunched his face up as if he just unknowingly sucked on a lemon. Then they proceeded to giggle, followed closely by the sign language I describe above. At the very moment I was about to get rude, they left. I was joined by my wife and we spent the next twenty minutes absorbed in each others company while trying to see who could hit the 10,000 point mark.

SkeeBallinShe went to find the kids, and I rolled my shiny red chair (pictured, while playing Skeeball – my wife took this) over to what can only be described as a giant, vertical slot machine. I was depositing tokens and tearing off tickets when I noticed all three of the older teens standing off to the side, where the giant rat comes out for the big show. I glanced over at the teens rather quickly, hoping to make them uncomfortable by catching them in a stare. Didn’t work. They just glared at me for a few seconds and left the area.

Couple minutes later, I see the older boy out of the corner of my eye. He had come back with Reverend Kane in tow. The boy whispered something to the Pastor and made a “patting” gesture on his side, which I can only guess as the international sign for “purse.”  However, I was at an odd angle and was in no mood to put on a show, and continued feeding tokens to the machine. About a minute later, I see Reverend Kane peeking from behind a free-standing game, but from my other side – apparently seeking a better view of the offending accessory. He scowled, and wandered off.

Parting Shot…

While taking a picture of my little nephew riding a roller-coaster simulator, the older boy approaches me from behind, leans down and whispers into my ear,

Nice purse, faggot. No wonder you’re crippled.

Apparently he’d lingered back specifically to tell me this, because the rest of the group had already left the building, loaded into their van and was waiting at the curb. By the time I got the camera put away and made sure my nephew was safe and sound at the table with his sister and my wife, the little urchin had enough time to climb into the van and leave. All I got from the van were the words “Baptist Church,” as the writing that depicted which particular church it was and their location was too small, and in script.

Great, all I need to do is find a Baptist church in the greater Atlanta area that owns a light colored church van manufactured by either Chevy, Ford or Dodge. Easy peasy. For all I know, they could have been visiting from another city, or even nearby Alabama. I didn’t tell my wife what happened, but she knew something was wrong because I was noticeably irritated. She probably just figured I’d grown weary of a few dozen screaming toddlers and the foresight of knowing the level of indigestion I would be later experiencing for eating a half of a pizza – which would have been accurate on any other day. No sense in ruining her afternoon, and I have this here blog which is handy for expressing myself.

Final Thoughts…

BigotryBigotry is learned. The smaller children were probably just curious because in their world men never carry a purse. I doubt they had the moxie to think it anything other than odd or childishly amusing, however they did know enough to “report it.” No, it was the older teens who appeared to have had their bigotry training already well under way, and the parting shot I got from the older boy only solidified my disdain for religious indoctrination.

“Anti-gay bullying is a theological issue because it has a theological base. I find it difficult to believe that even those among us with a vibrant imagination can muster the creative energy to picture a reality in which anti-gay violence and bullying exist without the anti-gay religious messages that support them.” – Dan Savage

No doubt I was the subject of much laughter as the group from “Typical Baptist Church” made their way back to their home base. Shame on them. Shame on them, indeed.

  155 comments for “Nice Purse, Faggot. No Wonder You’re Crippled.

  1. Coragyps
    July 30, 2012 at 10:53 am

    Feel that Christian love, indeed.
    Disgusting.

  2. July 30, 2012 at 10:59 am

    That is terrible. The dehumanization of LGBT people that gets drilled into their heads so young horrifies me. Sure, this was just staring and some words, but the fact that the one boy felt justified and comfortable saying such a thing to an adult implies anyone he viewed as a peer would be subject to far, far worse.

  3. July 30, 2012 at 11:03 am

    Simple ignorance.

    • hexidecima
      July 30, 2012 at 12:10 pm

      no, I disagree. It was not “simple ignorance”, but intentional hatred. Teens can think, no matter how poorly sometimes. And they need to be called on their “good Christian” lies and nonsense.

      • Happiestsadist
        July 30, 2012 at 8:54 pm

        Yeah, that’s going out of your way to be vile, and threatening as hell.

  4. July 30, 2012 at 11:05 am

    “Nice purse, faggot. No wonder you’re crippled.“

    What does that even mean? Purses are crippling attire? That you have been punished by God for carrying a purse?

    • July 30, 2012 at 11:26 am

      My automatic interpretation was that the kid was implying a gay man (because of course only a gay man would carry a purse) would be the victim of a well-deserved violent crime which might leave him in a wheelchair.

      I can’t mind read, but sneaking up behind someone to whisper something like that just makes me think “implied violence.”

      • astro
        July 30, 2012 at 12:59 pm

        These kids must be from Deep Bumfuck Wherever. I mean, the isolation you’d have to be in to be freaked out over a man’s purse. Those have been common as milk since the late 90’s at least. I’ll tell you one thing, they sure as hell ain’t livin’ in no college town

      • Happiestsadist
        July 30, 2012 at 8:58 pm

        That’s how I read it too.

    • July 30, 2012 at 3:39 pm

      I read it to mean that, from this kids obvious Baptist upbringing, he felt that the purse meant he was gay, which in turn would mean that their Christian made up god had punished him by crippling him. would’ve been funny to stand up and scare the shit outta the kid, since it says that Mr.stefanelli is able to stand. I’m quite certain this kid wouldn’t have had the nerve to do this if he’d thought he could be caught. truly nauseating behaviour. love the comment about Spain and men with purses, and about college towns. Obviously these kids don’t get out much.

      • AnyBeth
        July 30, 2012 at 6:45 pm

        This would be my guess. Put a little differently, disability is being seen as evidence of sin. Stop the sin and repent by doing some magic thing, saying some magic prayer–*POOF* no disability. Yes, this means that people with disabilities are very likely more evil than able-bodies people. No, I’ve no clue how they square this with the bible, gospels especially. But both my boyfriend and I have been told our disabilities were because of our sin, even by complete strangers. Evidently it’s not that odd, at least in some parts of the country.

    • ratajewie
      July 30, 2012 at 6:09 pm

      I think it has something to do with both the fact that they thought he was gay and possibly thinking back to deuteronomy 22:5, which states that a man can’t wear women’s clothing (even though a purse is hardly restricted for just women, especially if it’s not one of the pink flowery ones).

    • Buffy
      July 30, 2012 at 7:01 pm

      Typical RW Christian attitude. People who are suffering *deserve* it because they’ve “sinned” in some way. Obviously Al is in a wheelchair because God is punishing him for being gay, at least according to the ignorant gits he encountered. It’s all part of that “Christian Love” thing.

  5. Don Quijote
    July 30, 2012 at 11:13 am

    If that little bigot ever comes to Spain he will find many ablebodied men walking around with purses. I doubt he get away with a remark like that so easily.

    • Tualha
      August 6, 2012 at 1:21 pm

      As if fundies would visit a country with so many Catholics…

  6. July 30, 2012 at 11:22 am

    Matthew 15:30
    A vast crowd brought to him people who were lame, blind, crippled, those who couldn’t speak, and many others. They laid them before Jesus, and he healed them all called them faggots.

    • Anon
      July 30, 2012 at 6:36 pm

      This reply is too perfect for me to express in words.

      • buddyboy
        July 31, 2012 at 12:15 am

        i second this notion with great enthusiasm

    • Dita D
      July 31, 2012 at 7:45 pm

      Brilliant comment

    • Karl
      August 1, 2012 at 7:56 pm

      sheer genius

  7. July 30, 2012 at 11:44 am

    A teenager can be forgiven, since they have such an overwhelming tendency to say and do stupid stuff – the ones responsible for instilling this bigotry (which wasn’t even close to being directed accurately) in a young man are those who should be held accountable. Likely both the parents and the vast majority of those in that baptist congregation, as well as this dolt’s schoolmates, contributed to creating a bigot from the clean slate that a child represents. I learned long ago that I don’t usually get to see justice being visited on those who earn it, but I like to think that what goes around, comes around.

    • astro
      July 30, 2012 at 1:02 pm

      I disagree. There were lots of religious bigots where I grew up, and my peers, unchosen by me were largely and vocally bigotted. I never once felt compelled to join in their reindeer games as it were. You can be somewhat forgiven at that age, but that age is where the stains don’t come completely out anymore.

      • July 30, 2012 at 6:04 pm

        Good for you – some of the adults in your life must have taught you well. But I trust your range of forgiving is broad enough to appreciate that teenagers still can learn from their mistakes and come to a new position. I’m considerably less willing to forgive those adults who would instill such attitudes in a young man.

    • Terrie
      August 2, 2012 at 1:46 pm

      The problem is that this wasn’t stupid. It’s was cruel. Apparently, the kid has had basic empathy trained out of him.

  8. July 30, 2012 at 11:50 am

    More of that Christian love I guess. Purses are awesome. I don’t carry one now because I’m in school and I have a backpack. But when I become a professor? Totally going to carry a satchel purse.

  9. Onamission5
    July 30, 2012 at 11:54 am

    I have been sitting here for what seems like forever, trying to find words which can overome my sputtering indignation and approach something resembling wit or insight. No such luck. I just.. can’t.. even…

    The mind boggles. The fact that the child waited until his church group was on its way out and then whispered sneakily tells me he knew that what he was doing was wrong and his last actions wouldn’t have been accepted by even them, but still, whether the actions themselves would have been accepted or not, the attitudes leading to such behavior doubtlessly are widely promoted. That people cannot seem to draw a simple connection between teaching children negative, hateful attitudes and their resulting negative, hateful behavior, like I said, it boggles. Kids don’t come up with hateful that stuff in a vacuum. It’s got to be spoon fed to them by people in influence.

    • Onamission5
      July 30, 2012 at 12:06 pm

      read: that hateful stuff, not hateful that stuff. Boggled minds come up with interesting word orders.

    • July 31, 2012 at 9:01 pm

      I got the impression that the pastor and other teens were complicit, just waiting in the getaway vehicle for the chosen guy to complete his mission.

      • Onamission5
        August 4, 2012 at 12:29 am

        That is entirely possible and I wouldn’t put it past someone, revolting as that thought is. Drawing from my own youth group experience, though, the action taken by that kid would not have been condoned, but the attitude behind those actions definitely was actively promoted. The youth group leaders were more of the sort who would have encouraged that youth to tell Al that they’d pray for him condescendingly than the kind to outright call people names.

  10. Dunc
    July 30, 2012 at 11:54 am

    That’s a truly remarkable amount of wrongness to condense into 7 words.

  11. July 30, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    More of that Southern Bigots — erm, Baptists — love in action:

    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/07/30/church-refuses-to-marry-black-couple-in-mississippi/

  12. hexidecima
    July 30, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    as I said in a reply above, there is no reason to excuse teens. They can think and they can learn. It’s up to everyone to teach them better. A little direct action demanding their responsibility can work wonders.

    I would like to think I would have had enough quickness to say very loudly “What dear? You said “Nice purse, faggot. No wonder you’re crippled.”? Golly what a nice child you are.”

    • July 30, 2012 at 6:08 pm

      The idea is not to “excuse” teens – they’re responsible for everything they say and do from the very beginning. The idea is to forgive them and seek to find ways to show them how wrong this sort of behavior is. Is there nothing in your teenage past that is embarrassing, for which you would hope to be forgiven? I can think of several things in mine …

  13. Alverant
    July 30, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    I hope word of this gets to him or his parents eventually and he has to confront his ignorance and assumptions. I would hope he would feel guilty, but I don’t think that’s possible for him. He’s just trying to make himself feel tough at the expense of others.

  14. Thesir
    July 30, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    Oh boo fucking hoo. Ditch the purse and have the female carry the damn purse.

    • Mr.Kosta
      July 30, 2012 at 2:16 pm

      Obvious toll is fucking obvious.

      And disgusting. Go back under your bridge, you moron.

    • A 'Nym Too
      July 30, 2012 at 4:01 pm

      … the female

      I hope your shriveled little testicles spontaneously combust, you pathetic, smegma-brained weasel.

      What’s wrong, pissed off because Al insulted your Sky-Daddy brigade, or jealous that you can’t quite pull off carrying a handbag?

    • July 31, 2012 at 10:12 am

      That’s his wife you’re talking about. She’s a person, and not to be defined by her gender. Nor is she Al’s skivvy. I suggest you learn some manners.

  15. lawrence
    July 30, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    When I am King, ‘religious education’ like any other form of child abuse, will be punishable by death.

  16. Cuprohastes
    July 30, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    I have a bag too – But its canvas and “manly” so people don’t stare or act strange, even though functionally its indistinguishable from a handbag.
    That said, I once painted my nails just to see if I liked how it looked (I did!), but I got so many stares and people made such weird assumptions that I haven’t done it since!
    I say – Good for you for acessorizing(sp?) the way you like. Its people who have the fortitude to challenge convention that change culture!

  17. Jon
    July 30, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    So a little kid called you a name? Well, at least you didn’t let it get to you.

    • July 30, 2012 at 2:59 pm

      Aww did Al’s post hurt your poor lickle feelings, Jon?

      I know, it’s so unfair of Al to talk about religiously-motivated homophobia and vile sentiments towards the disabled on his own blog when these are things he has made clear are within the remit of his blog when he chooses to write about them.

      Turn off the computer, buy yourself an ice cream, and enjoy the rest of your day safe in the knowledge that you never have to think about it again! Or anything else, if you like!

    • Erin
      July 30, 2012 at 3:24 pm

      A young adult verbally harassed him. And even if it was a small child, that’s not the point.

      We still haven’t learned from the story of Matthew Shepard. There are stories coming out frequently, of gay children and teens being beaten, harassed, and even killed and *that* is a problem. The point of this article is that anti-gay hatred inundates our society in a dangerous way. A comment like this is a gateway to physical harm of innocent individuals.

    • ksim
      July 30, 2012 at 3:28 pm

      It wasn’t a little kid. It was an teen who is a few years from being declared an adult. And he didn’t call him “a name”; the little a$$hole (see, that’s calling someone a name) packed a whole lot of misanthropy in one very concise sentence. I think most people would be bothered by an unmotivated insult from a total stranger, let alone someone who is already in a vulnerable position as to be in a wheelchair. The teen was at the minimum incredibly insensitive, as are you to minimize it to “so a little kid called you a name”

    • Karl
      July 30, 2012 at 7:05 pm

      Another dumb Christian insulted him? Yeah, he should be used to that by now. Because the bible tells us so.

    • smhll
      August 1, 2012 at 3:14 pm

      While teenagers are technically kids, hardly anyone puts them in the category “little kids”.

  18. July 30, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    As a Christian I wanted to state my apologies. These people are not speaking for Christianity, MY God and especially not Christ. Its horrifying to me that they so greatly misrepresent everything I believe in and turn people away from God. I’m sorry you had to go through this on a day that was meant to be enjoyable.

    • July 30, 2012 at 3:49 pm

      These people are not speaking for Christianity, MY God and especially not Christ.

      What are you doing to stop people from dragging your god’s name through the mud, apart from telling people your god isn’t really like that? Why should we believe you are an authority in what your god is and is not, when bigots say that they are the authority, and they say it so much louder, from positions of authority within churches and from some of the highest government offices in the land?

      • BlooBayoo
        July 30, 2012 at 5:15 pm

        So by your logic, Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant), I should assume as a man, you’re not really sorry when some woman is raped? I should hold YOU responsible for all rapes? Why should I believe YOU when you say rape is wrong?

        She didn’t have to apologize for something she didn’t do. She did so because she wanted to increase goodness instead of fear and hatred.

        If you don’t believe in God, fine but don’t be an asshole.

        • Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)
          July 30, 2012 at 7:51 pm

          I, as a man, have a moral code that says rape is wrong.

          If you need to be told rape is wrong, then you are a despicable human being. Are you seriously going to try “but without God, how do you know it is wrong?”

          You know what book actually says women can be raped – and kept – for a one-time fee?

          If a man is caught in the act of raping a young woman who is not engaged, he must pay fifty pieces of silver to her father. Then he must marry the young woman because he violated her, and he will never be allowed to divorce her.

          Look it up, it’s not hard. I remember it from when I was a christian, and I remember thinking “well, it must be moral because god is good, so I just don’t understand that passage with my poor human brain and modern morals, let’s hold hands and pray for insight!”

          See someone you like, have your way with her by force, pay your fifty silver and she’s yours by divine decree! That god is so FUCKING! WONDERFUL!

          As for being an asshole about it, the post I responded to is the direct equivalent of a man saying “yeah, women get raped by men, but I don’t rape women!” Good. Great. Have a cookie for not raping/being bigoted. Well done for having better morals than your god.

          Isn’t it weird how easy it is to be more moral than your omni-wonderful god?

          • buddyboy
            July 31, 2012 at 12:20 am

            are you actually defending that biblical passage? what kind of sick fuck are you?

          • July 31, 2012 at 10:14 am

            No, not defending it, actually the opposite – trying to point out that Christians, no matter how well-meaning, implicitly endorse all the bad as well as the good, and that modern, human morality is superior to that of their omni-wonderful God.

            However, I take responsibility for the lack of clarity that might have led you to take away the meaning you did from what I wrote.

          • smhll
            August 1, 2012 at 3:17 pm

            Z – When someone repudiates bigotry, that suggests that they do not endorse it, even if there are bits of it in their holy books.

    • A 'Nym Too
      July 30, 2012 at 4:12 pm

      Yeah they are. Same god, same Jesus, same book, same religion. Your religion.

      You don’t want to hear it, that’s natural. I was once there, a gay christian convinced I could change it from within. I was fooling myself.

      Christianity is toxic. It’s misogynist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist, racist, and destructive. It enables and supports the abuse of women and children, and sanctions the harassment and hatred of people like me.

      They are you, and you are them.

      • August 3, 2012 at 1:33 am

        Not to mention it being absolute nonsense.
        Religious doctrine could be truly NICE and even beneficial and it would still be bullshit.

    • JJ7212
      July 30, 2012 at 8:29 pm

      ‘As a Christian’ you want to say what?! Why can’t you say ‘As an adult’ that you agree with the moral teachings of the Bible. You can’t. The ‘as a Christian’ gimmick is not a get out of jail free card. It’s more like, ‘As a Christian’ you support the immoral teachings of the Bible and all of it’s bullshit stories. Stop apologizing ‘as a Christian’ and think for yourself like a responsible grown-up. I don’t want to be mean, but there’s no nice way to tap dancing around your bigotry supporting comment. I’m saying that ‘as an adult’.

    • isilzhaveni
      July 31, 2012 at 4:37 am

      There’s always one of you that shows up to say just that. Know what, it’s complete BS. Since what you all believe is just made up crap anyway if you call yourself an xian, well, you ARE an xian. Now, we may find some of you a bit less vile than others, but for the most part, it’s all just semantics.

    • July 31, 2012 at 10:50 am

      @Angie:

      See, the problem is those people think they are speaking for Christianity, your God, and your Christ. And as I’m not God (neither are you I suspect,) I take them at their word that they’re doing so. They are Christians. You’re playing a No True Scotsman fallacy, which is the thing that bugs the heck out of me when talking to Christians.

      You’re all Christians. And just like people in general, some Christians are assholes. Some Christians (like people in general) speak their assholery from the pulpit, from a position of power. Some Christians (like people in general) take this person’s (often self-applied) authority as a reason to treat other people with the same kind of assholery.

      So yes, there are asshole Christians, and there are asshole people. But what you can do, and what we can do, is to make it so that people who treat others this way are called out on their poor behavior. Teaching, shaming, and ridicule (in that order specifically) ought to be our response to anyone who treats another person in a bad manner.

      So stop apologizing on behalf of some God who we (largely) don’t believe in on this blog, and take up that kind of torch against your fellow Christians who speak that kind of way. Teach them it’s unacceptable to be a bigot. Shame the ones who continue to be a bigot. Ridicule them if they persist.

    • August 3, 2012 at 2:06 pm

      Then why are you here lecturing US about it instead of THEM?

    • Brian M
      September 18, 2012 at 8:58 pm

      How do you know? Your own Holy Bible is full of far crueler actions by YOUR God. The very concept of eternal hell so loudly proclaimed by your Jesus is infintiely worse than any relatively petty human cruelties.

      “…he has a special place full of torture and pain and suffering for ever and ever and ever. Because He LOVES YOU. He loves you and he needs MONEY.”

  19. Matt
    July 30, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    Nice purse, friend. No wonder why you’re awesome!

  20. smarter
    July 30, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    When I was a boy we were taught by the church that gay people were sinister predators who would likely rape you if given half the chance. I would have been terrified of you. A friend’s brother gave me a ride across town when I was around 12 or 13, and I found out later that he was gay. I felt like I dodged a bullet. The thing was that he was a very nice guy, and we got along great. It put the first seed of doubt that the church might be mistaken. Now 30 years later, I am a proud and tolerant atheist.

  21. Erin
    July 30, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    I don’t understand why our society has such an issue with purses. Can we just call them something gender neutral, like “bag,” and be done with it? People needs something to carry their daily items in. I don’t understand why men insist on cramming their things into their pockets. Just “man up” and get a bag already. Geeze.

    • A 'Nym Too
      July 30, 2012 at 4:24 pm

      This, and the thing is that if you use a manual chair, you really need a bag. I’m a woman so I can get away with it.

      Wheelchairs usually have no decent storage. If it’s in a pouch on the back, or under the seat, it might not be accessible to the chair user.

      Let’s see… phone, purse/wallet, keys medication, a drink, and a light jacket (tried holding an umbrella while propelling? Haha!) That’s usually the bare minimum of stuff. You’d need pretty big pockets for that!

      So yeah, bags for all, plus points if you’re trundling around in a chair!

      • July 30, 2012 at 9:19 pm

        This is exactly why I have both a fanny pack (for packing around the light version of my stuff), and messenger bag (for the not-so-light version of my stuff), and then there are various bags and pouches on my power chair.

        • A 'Nym Too
          July 31, 2012 at 4:10 pm

          I’m having to switch from outside-only manual self-propelled, to full-time powerchair use. Yay for hospital-acquired infections that accelerate nerve damage! *cough*

          My sadness about not using my beloved spangly blingmobile has been somewhat tempered by the thought that “Hey! More bag space!” Not to mention that my girlfriend can carry MOAR THINGS if she’s not having to shove me around.

          She’s not keen on toting my pink hearts rucksack though. Doesn’t match her sensible shoes 😀

    • kurt
      July 30, 2012 at 8:05 pm

      I have a shoulder bag because I hate carrying stuff in my pockets (and it’s just big enough to hold a Kindle, too) but I’m a little too self-conscious about it to use it on a regular basis. I’m not sure what it would take to change attitudes about purses, but fashions can change pretty quickly. Maybe if some bastion of “manliness”, like George Clooney, started using a purse that would do the trick.

      Changing religious bigotry will be much harder, unfortunately.

      • A 'Nym Too
        July 31, 2012 at 4:18 pm

        I will declare you all victims of Manbagism, and sponsor your entry to Europe. Here in the UK most lads have bags. Like a lot of us say, ‘Patriarchy hurts men too ‘.

        I think, thanks to religion, that the US zealots apparently view any deviation from rigid binary roles as some sort of heinous transgression. It seems so deeply carved into the nation’s psyche. I hope it can be changed for everyone’s benefit.

    • July 31, 2012 at 9:33 pm

      “Purse” is gender neutral (and is generally used to refer only to a coinpurse in British English). It was only after pockets came into fashion that men stopped carrying them regularly. “Pocketbooks” and “handbags” started out as male accessories and later got applied to female ones. “Clutches”, “reticules”, and “evening bags” have always been feminine articles as far as I am aware.

      • katansi
        July 31, 2012 at 10:11 pm

        That was exactly what I was going to say! We’ve added gender to words that didn’t have them or didn’t have the ones they have now. Maybe etymology lessons would clear up some asshattery.

  22. James Gavin
    July 30, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    The best way to deal with bigoted kids is by beating them.

    • Badland
      July 31, 2012 at 1:08 am

      *rolls up newspaper*

      No! Bad troll! Bad!

  23. July 30, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    I’m reading this blog to my boys, ages 4 and 7. I’m doing my best to teach them to be the exact opposite of these little assholes. Parents and religion are a huge part of why bullying is growing in this country. all this issues being brought to the forefront and out of the closet, so to speak, are bringing the bigots out in full force. I’m sorry this happened to you. you look absolutely fabulous and my godfather has MS and a purse is very practical. the matching and cool fedoras is just you having a keen fashion sense. 🙂 going to Amy place filled with kids these days is a true window into what kind of parents are out there. its sad for me cuz I thought my generation would surely do better. guess not. Take care and best wishes to you and your family.

  24. July 30, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    From the comments: The solution is killing religious parents and beating children?

    Yeah – not so much.

    • CT
      July 30, 2012 at 4:47 pm

      Yeah, some real gems out there in the commentariat today.

      • July 30, 2012 at 5:23 pm

        YEP – and more. Now we have comas.

        It’s not untrue though, if this young person continues this sort of behavior and uses “fighting words” like those someone is going to take him up on it some day.

        A better solution, of course, is to write a letter to the church (if it can be found) and see what happens from there. Even just calling him out on it might do some good.

        You’d think that the church wouldn’t be surprised at this behavior, since the bible point-blank says that homosexuality is an abomination. Even if the message doesn’t happen to be part of their overt theology, that message is supported by Christian scripture and is communicated to children.

        The idea that God judges and punishes sinners is classic prosperity doctrine. They might be from a prosperity doctrine church.

        The bluntness of the message the teen articulated though, might give them at least a moment of pause. Children are often a mirror for the adults who raise them.

        The cognitive dissonance of attempting to explain to the teens in their church that “this is not what we teach” when it actually very much is, can be useful in helping them realize their error or, at least, moderate their rhetoric.

        I know – fat chance – but it’s worth a try.

        • CT
          July 31, 2012 at 2:04 pm

          Well, today seems better, just atomic bombs so far.

  25. Eric H
    July 30, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    As a Georgia resident I can’t say I am surprised, though I wish I could. One thing though if you get grief for the purse thing, I carry a messenger bag for that reason, I know its not great to compromise, but its usually considered a male friendly accessory.

    • isilzhaveni
      July 31, 2012 at 4:43 am

      You do realize that a purse and a messenger bag are both large objects, made of material and shaped to form some semblance of a pouch and used to hold a variety of smaller objects within.

      It shouldn’t matter if you call it a purse or messenger bag.

      • Eric H
        July 31, 2012 at 9:00 am

        Yes I do realize that, as I carry a messenger bag as stated in my comment. But a messenger bag does not look like a purse and usually doesn’t carry the same stigma as a purse. Its a sad state of affairs and it shouldn’t matter what anyone carries, but most messenger bags have a more masculine design and aren’t usually referred to as a purse by bigots.

  26. Rignite
    July 30, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    Just wanted to say that you are an impressively patient and strong willed guy to deal with such shit while being above it all the entire time.

    Way to show the holier than thou what it means to actually be a good human being. Good show sir.

  27. Bodhi
    July 30, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    The pastor from Westboro Baptist Church matches that description.

  28. BigotsGetBullets
    July 30, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    You may be crippled but let one of those fucking urchins try that over on this coast some time, we’ll leave them in a coma. West Coast don’t play that way.

  29. smrnda
    July 30, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    Wow, men with bags isn’t something that anybody notices anywhere I’ve ever been, though we’ve had a lot of discussions at which point a bag becomes a purse. The rules I think was when you put your keys in it… but I digress.

    The kid is old enough to know what he was doing, plus, given that he waited until the end, when he was on his way out, after everybody did the point and stare, means that he was probably thinking of making his obnoxious, bigoted comment the entire time. He was probably bragging about it and getting everybody hyped up for his big performance scheduled for on the way out, when everybody can run away if they cause any trouble. Seems kind of premeditated to me.

    Some teenagers are decent people, but there are always the ones who are behind the bullshit, behind the bullying, the one who think it up and encourage others. I know peer pressure does it, but somebody has to start applying that peer pressure.

    As for this being small, would a kid making an offhand racial slur on his way out be a small thing? Calling names isn’t some totally separate issue from the actual violence against minority groups. Where names are tolerated, so will violence.

  30. Bob
    July 30, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    I recommend a google image search if you want to contact the churches nicely. The nearest baptist church has this van, which matches your description:
    here

  31. Steve
    July 30, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    Yeah queer, why can’t you marry your sister like normal folks!?

  32. Gvlgeologist, FCD
    July 30, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    Please, PLEASE send in this post as a guest column to the local newspaper and shame these assholes. Although the teen may have stuck around to insult you, certainly the behavior of the pastor shows that the teen’s actions weren’t unlikely in his in group.

    Let’s see. What would have happened if this group hadn’t been poisoned by homophobia? The little kids might have gone to either their pastor or the teen and asked why you were carrying a purse. They might even have asked you in person, without assuming teh evil gay. If they asked, say, me, I hope I would have gone to the obvious conclusion and suggested that it was easier for you to do that due to your disability.

  33. Hank Fox
    July 30, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    Well, hell. Sorry you had to go through that.

    If you CAN find them, it would be cool to see some names in print.

  34. freedoom
    July 30, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    I have posted a link to your story on edcforums.com. We are an entire online community of men who carry bags.

  35. Kevin
    July 30, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    Before he went blind, my dad used to sew “handbags” for wheelchair-bound veterans. They slid over the back of the chair and provided easy access to the various and sundries. And he would find the gaudiest, most outrageous cloth possible. Often, the fabric stores would give him remainders and tail-ends, which he would stitch together in a kind of crazy-quilt look.

    The vets loved them.

    You’re right about it being a learned behavior. Anyone “different” is to be feared and hated. Sadly, the kid probably got a pat on the back from his buddies for confronting you. Christians. Amoral assholes. Same thing.

    There’s only one thing I have to add and that’s — cigarettes? Really? Cut that shit out right now.

  36. John
    July 30, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    I must be understanding this all wrong… Maybe I am messed up but even the way you told this whole story was more like how I would imagine a woman telling it (just full of emotion). You also show, very clearly I might add, that you actually like hand bags which would mean your fondness is not strictly out of need. I might still think you’re gay if you wore a fanny pack but at least guys did that at one time. I know for a fact that that wasn’t the first time someone has made that statement to you and at what point would you ask who is actually mistaken… Oh, and the fact that they were Christian makes no difference sir and only makes you look like you’re trying to use their religion as a basis to attack them just as you feel you were attacked. FYI – If you do something that is not normal then you deserve and will be exploited. I would say the same to all that do things that go against the grain of society. I am not a religious person either so don’t get it twisted… I am something called Logic. Why is common sense so rare these days?

    • July 30, 2012 at 6:23 pm

      You say “I must be understanding this all wrong… Maybe I am messed up …” Maybe? Really? No maybes about it – you ARE messed up, badly!! If you think that liking to use a handbag equates to gayness, then you’re one pathetic individual who needs to cure a severe case of cranial-rectal inversion (or, more directly, “You have your head up your ass!”).

      Your comments illustrate in a most compelling way, you have no clue what constitutes common sense or logic.

      If I’ve misread this, and your remarks are simply a parody, then I salute your creativity and convincing acting skills. Otherwise, do us both a favor and STFU!

    • Christopher Gates
      July 31, 2012 at 2:28 am

      Yes, you are “understanding” this wrong. Yes, you are “messed up” for lacking both empathy and imagination. Your condescension of women is noted. Liking handbags is not a vice nor weakness for ANY person of ANY group, and Al stated in HIS blog that for HIMSELF there was very strong NEED. think that ‘Once Upon a Time’ is a rather poor way for Al and others to live THEIR respective lives, especially for something as grotesque as Fashion (per Oscar Wilde)… 

      I could go on disecting your own typed words, spelling out each instance of your narrowness, ‘preaching to the choir’ so to write… but I think that would be futile. I will instead leave you with these words: YOU ARE NOT THE CENTER OF THE WORLD.  OTHER PEOPLE MAY THINK DIFFERENTLY THAN YOU. MONOCULTURES MAKE FOR FRAGILE, PEST-RIDDEN CROPS.  TIME AND CURRENT DEMOGRAPHICS ARE NOT ON YOUR SIDE.  AL IS WELL WITHIN REASON TO BE UPSET WITH THE BAD BEHAVIOR OF MANY (MOST?!) MEMBERS OF A PARTICULAR GROUP.  Your attempted defense of said individuals with your tired ‘Blame the Victim’ words is… not so good. 

      Thanks for leaving an anonymous comment here on a Freethought blog under a first name that is commonly understood in our culture as meaning ‘prostitute customer’!

    • isilzhaveni
      July 31, 2012 at 4:47 am

      Wow, John, what a horrible, nasty person you are.

      Here’s the bottom line–there’s nothing gay, abnormal or wrong about someone (man or woman) carrying a purse.

      You’re the one who’s fully of petty hate and I think THAT’S just downright NASTY.

    • July 31, 2012 at 10:40 am

      Seriously John? Only women can relate stories in an emotional way? Men have to be robots?

      Fuck you. No seriously. It’s men like you who cause young teenage boys like I was untold grief. I showed emotion, I was sensitive and kind, and you could clearly see that when you were with me. I got harrassed and beat up and insulted for all that. And when I went home to my parents, people who should accept me for who I am and for all my ways, I got the same kind of retorts ‘stop crying, be a man.’ (Bully for them, I’m transgender!)

      Well fuck you and fuck that noise. Men can be emotional, sensitive, and caring. It’s not gay or feminine to show off that you have a heart.

    • kraut
      July 31, 2012 at 10:47 am

      “If you do something that is not normal then you deserve and will be exploited.”
      Oh look, another arsehole.

    • August 1, 2012 at 12:06 am

      Waaaaaaaaaaaah! Someone is going against the “grain of society”! He’s not normal! Someone make fun of him! He scares me, God! Waaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

      Oh boo-fucking-hoo. Grow up, you fucking peon.

      “I am something called Logic.” Bullshit.

  37. Lou
    July 30, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    Hate- the one universal thing that ties the entirety of Christendom together.
    You are proof that a straight man can have style and class!!
    Rock on, man!!!

  38. Rick
    July 30, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    “the older boy” – Well, to be fair, I wouldn’t say that this has anything to do with religion or the like. I’ve seen people called horrendous things before, with no provocation as to the words that were uttered, such as “faggot”. You do not have to be gay, or thought to be gay, or anything to do with gay, to have someone call you a “faggot”; Especially by a younger male. Personally? I believe some people can just be straight up cunts, and just do it to get a rise out of you, probably brought on by the group of them.

    With that, I say don’t sweat it. There will sadly always be a cunt out there to try and ruin your day, and you just have to ignore them and continue on with your life!

    Have a great day everyone. Really.

    • NancyNew
      August 3, 2012 at 12:32 pm

      Yo, Rick. Let’s try not to use “cunt” to discribe “asshole.”

  39. Man_Who_Stares_At_Goats
    July 30, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    As a gay, 19 year old atheist, this is nothing new to me. I am leaving for boot-camp in 3 days, but still get messed with about being gay. I know you are not, but my point is that all of the anti-gay bullshit that us actual gay people have to deal with is one of two things: Either people are so desperately in need of attention that they see someone act hostility towards gay people that they jump the bandwagon to conform or fit in, or people are just so hateful down to their core that maybe they shouldn’t have a place in society. Do I have conservative, homo-phobic, bible-trumpeters because they take their book and use it as a base for their hatred of me and mine? no. wish i could say the same about them…

  40. July 30, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    Some comments have been supportive of the false notion that Al is upset for being called a name/s. I can assure you that Al’s skin is much thicker than that. Al is a former Marine and is far from being incapable of taking shit.

    The real issue here is the fact that the bigotry taught to children has the potential to produce bigoted adults who have will have influence on political and social issues, and as a result, CAN promote more than just name calling. Bigotry, left unchecked, has a nasty habit of growing like a cancer and devouring its victims. Yeah. How many people have died as a result of bigotry throughout human history?

    It’s not about name calling. It’s about the rampant breeding of bigotry and hate. It’s about brown-shirting children in the name of a deity that doesn’t exist.

    RJ Evans
    American Heathen®

  41. GvlGeologist
    July 30, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    So much wrong in #36.

    1. “more like how I would imagine a woman telling it (just full of emotion).” – sexist assumption that women are more emotional.

    2. “you actually like hand bags” … “I might still think you’re gay if you wore a fanny pack” – assumption that you can tell something about sexual preference from clothing accessories. And the implication that there’s something wrong with it.

    3. “I know for a fact that that wasn’t the first time someone has made that statement to you” – well, no, unless you personally know Mr. Stefanelli or you’ve personally seen this happen to him, no you don’t.

    4. “the fact that they were Christian makes no difference sir and only makes you look like you’re trying to use their religion as a basis to attack them” – no, the point of this post is to point out the hypocrisy of these xtians, and how homophobia is endemic among at least some groups of them. On the contrary, it is common for xtians to use their religion as a basis for their homophobia.

    5. “If you do something that is not normal then you deserve and will be exploited.” – really? You’re justifying this contemptible behavior? By the same logic, we can now justify the killing of any member of an out group. And “normal”? You can say atypical or unusual, certainly, but it has been shown MANY times on FTB, Panda’s Thumb, and the old Scienceblogs, that homosexual behavior is common among the animal world.

    6. “I would say the same to all that do things that go against the grain of society.” – You’re just an asshole. Justifying all bullying. I can’t believe it.

  42. Matt
    July 30, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    So unfortunate that this behavior runs parallel to what they would call ‘good deeds and morals’. And we wonder why some people lack the most basic of logic. I would be angry as well; I think the hard part is starting a dialogue to point out this inconsistency in bigoted behavior. I hope you have a chance to change someones beliefs and attitudes about other people if this happens again.

  43. GvlGeologist
    July 30, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    And I might add that for my point #1, why even bring this up unless you are implying that women’s emotions somehow make them less valid than men?

  44. JJ7212
    July 30, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    Good on you, Al, for eating at Chuck E Cheese instead of Chic Fil-A.

  45. luke
    July 30, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    You sir, are an EDC’r – everyday carry. I too carry a world of gear and I hate things in my pockets. There are thousands of us out there who employ some sort of bag or another, there are forums as well.

    As for the hatred you suffered, its sad, sad that supposed christians do not practise the most important commandment – love thy neighbor as you love yourself.

  46. Thom Shouse
    July 30, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    i am on weels as well and you need to keep your stuff in something.and what is with some people?

  47. mikewelsh
    July 30, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    Love the Poltergeist reference!

    I came here via Dan Fincke’s link.

    I’m sorry this happened to you. It sickens me to think of anyone being taught such bigotry. I was very fortunate in that when I was brought up in the church it was a Presbyterian USA church, so I learned none of this bigotry. It wasn’t until later, when I became more fundamentalist that I began to think of homosexuality as a sin. I’ve been an atheist going on five years now, so I no longer hold that view, but it still upsets me when people who claim to follow Christ act in such a hateful manner, even if they are kids.

  48. Dan
    July 30, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    Fuck ’em. Seriously, though: nice purse (faggot). Guess you should have gotten rude when you had the opportunity- there’s no point in showing any tolerance for religious folks as you will receive none in return. Let them pray to their god to smite us, though I’d prefer to use science and an atomic bomb on them.

    Do not tell me to tolerate religious people like this: there is no room for this kind of ignorance in an already-backwards world.

  49. Jonathan
    July 30, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    I remember a Guy in high school who was unmerciful to the effeminate kids in our class. It was interesting for me to find out a couple of years ago that this same bully is gay. The same is true of Ted Haggard who spoke hate from the pulpit and was found with a gay prostitute. This same scenario has been shown in the media and Television everywhere from Glee to American Beauty.

    The Baptist church is oppressive. I wonder if this teenaged kid is struggling to come to terms with the fact that he might be gay. This does not make his actions inexcusable but it would give some creedence to why he would go out of his way to be so hateful. The Church does a great job of teaching people how to deny, deny, deny. At what point does that denial manifest itself into self protecting and hateful name calling?

    I can’t find any evidence that proves any of this. Just anecdotes that show me that a teen, struggling with his sexual identity, may invoke hate because it is more tolerated in his church than a same sex attraction.

    • Jonathan
      July 30, 2012 at 11:16 pm

      “This does not make his actions excusable”. I’m guilty of poor grammar.

  50. Stevarious
    July 31, 2012 at 12:49 am

    I use a small netbook-sized laptop bag – it’s slightly larger than the purse in your picture but has a very ‘functional’ appearance, I supposed now that I think of it it’s probably very carefully designed to look as not-like-a-purse as possible while still performing an almost identical function.

    Jerks don’t have to know that there’s no laptop in there, just my miscellaneous junk. Plus I’m a computer geek for a living so anyone who knows me a little bit would find it completely normal for me to have one with me at all times and the few people who know me well don’t care about crap like this.

    I guess it probably fits in your category of ‘luggage’ but I’m pretty sure with my social anxiety I wouldn’t be able to leave the house holding a purse. I envy you a lot on that point, Al.

  51. Elaine
    July 31, 2012 at 1:27 am

    Al,

    Thank you for posting this. It highlights one of the biggest issues I have with todays preconceived notions of what a man or a woman “should” wear or use in regards to fashion.

    You know what? Your purses make sense. They serve a purpose. I doubt that many other carry bag style items would serve that purpose quite as well.

    But, society has declared that men shouldn’t carry bags that even loosely resemble the bags women carry to serve the same purpose. But, you know, women can use satchel bags that men sometimes carry. It’s silly.

    Also, If I saw you in a Hawaiian style shirt, fedora and shiny, red wheelchair, pulling things out of a purse, I would probably smile and privately applaud your quirky fashion sense and fun, playful look. I wouldn’t come up and say so (I would want to let you have your privacy etc as people who dress in an extraordinary way tend to get more attention and this can get annoying in large doses)but I would certainly smile and give you a thumbs up if you smiled back.

    Dude, you can’t please everyone all the time, but those who aren’t pleased should have the decency to keep their mouths shut about it. I hope any other encounters like this don’t dampen your wonderfully eccentric style. Keep on keeping on.

  52. Jeremy
    July 31, 2012 at 1:48 am

    I love your attitude in the face of a very ugly encounter, how sad that those poor kids might never even realize how much their actions hurt good people.
    Thank you for sharing, great blog.

  53. John
    July 31, 2012 at 2:00 am

    I too am disabled, I had a brain hemorrhage that required surgery and left me paralyzed on the right side of my body. Unfortunately it has also effected my left side, It now has this completely uncontrollable desire and requires me to knock the shit out of smart-ass little teenagers that make rude comments like the one this teen did…
    I think it was very honorable that Al handle it the way he did.

  54. Taxiphyllum
    July 31, 2012 at 3:41 am

    I’ve honestly never seen a guy carrying a purse, aside from displeased and defeated looking men shopping with their wives.

    I used to have an antique army surplus medical bag, canvas with a shoulder strap. When I was a kid I always had it on me, for collecting rocks and other curios of nature and what have you. Until, one day, a group of older kids made fun of me by calling it a purse, and me gay.

    I wasn’t older than 12, but I remember being made to feel very small. I threw it away because I was upset, and I really wish I had it back. I feel bad for someone who will grow up in a life where they would take the time out of their day to heckle someone for something completely insignificant.

    Fuck ’em. We got better shit to do.

  55. left0ver1under
    July 31, 2012 at 5:21 am

    If I saw a man in a wheelchair, it would be obvious to me why he had a purse rather than a backpack: because his back is preoccupied with something. (I have seen wheelchairs with bags built into them, but that’s another matter.) The insecurity of some people is just amazing, it’s as if they want to display their ignorance, and they’re proud of it.

    In a redneck town I once lived in Canada, I used to hear that garbage for having a belt pouch around my waist. (They are not “fanny packs”.) I would even hear “gay” for having a backpack, fer cryin’ out loud.

    It makes me glad I live in Asia now. In most countries, many men carry a bag or pack and nobody bats an eye. That’s even true of businessmen with a bag instead of a briefcase.

  56. Tyrant
    July 31, 2012 at 6:24 am

    By the way, Al – VOT A NIZE HAT!

  57. July 31, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    There is a commercial for a whiskey where a man holds a woman’s purse while she goes into a store. As soon as she’s out of sight, he drops the purse like it’s radioactive, takes a plastic bag out of his pocket and picks up the purse like he’s cleaning up dog poo, then is able to hold it like he’s just gone shopping. After completing this, a group of men who were watching toast and applaud him.

    Seriously? Yes, there’s nothing more horrifying than a man touching something feminine…

    In fact, here is the whole commercial in its… gay panic?… glory.

  58. jnorris
    July 31, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    Now that you’ve told us this, those Christian children are officially being persecuted. Hurray for them! They’ve earned ten Get Into Heaven For Free points. snark

  59. R
    July 31, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    Thanks for taking the time to write this story, that alone took courage.

  60. Stephen
    July 31, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    I grew up an independent baptist. They have a very strict code of gender, that is, women do not wear pants, men do not have long hair, men do not wear anything “intended” for the other sex, and vice versa. The child was ignorant, and made the assumption you were gay because of the violation of this code. They’re also hateful, prideful bastards (since they’re the only folks who “get christianity right”), so none of this is surprising. At all.

    • hypatiasdaughter
      August 2, 2012 at 9:37 pm

      So what do they say about Jesus – long hair, dress?

  61. July 31, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    You guys ARE utterly adorable!

  62. July 31, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    That sucks. I’m in a wheelchair too, though I don’t carry a purse. I’m sorry. I could never live in the south, far to much religion and conservatives. Good luck.

  63. Dita D
    July 31, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    Unfortunately this is not just a problem of the south. I live in L.A. and although there are many progressive individuals and surrounding cities, we still face ignorance and intolerance. I am both gay and disabled. To assume one is related to the other is odd. And this gentleman was with his very female wife. I guess purse trumps wife in sexuality. I am beyond frustrated, overwhelmed and can’t help but feel hopeless. Day in and day out I continue to read about man kinds disrespect and general bullying of one another on simple differences and the inability to take the time to be truly compassionate. I would never have imagined as a child having the guts to go up to a grown adult and say anything disrespectful. And how tough are you to pick on someone in a wheelchair!?!? Feeling shame for the human race.

  64. July 31, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    Wow. There is so much of your post that I could have written – not from your perspective – I’m not in a wheelchair carrying a bag – but from the perspective of a daughter who has seen this happen to her own father. He’s gotten looks and comments, as well.

    At my dad’s request, I made him a bag to carry all of his things in because, as you said, digging in one’s pockets while in a seated position is a bit of a chore. The bag was a dark brown duckcloth (similar to canvas) and I made it so he could use it with his beloved leather guitar strap. I’ve even got a picture of him wearing his bag while holding my youngest son (then 2 yrs old) and my daughter (then 8) pushing him in the wheelchair. (She insisted on giving it a shot.) He’s proud of that bag and I’m proud of the fact that I made it for him.

    I have chosen to raise my children to accept everyone as they are, no judgement. I also raise them to ask questions if they don’t understand something. My children will not be raised with bigotry and hatred. I can only hope that the children who are will see the error in that and make changes for their own children one day.

    • Christopher Gates
      August 2, 2012 at 6:25 pm

      Amen to that..l I mean right on…

  65. Annmaree (Emu)
    July 31, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    I cannot tell you how angry what happened to you makes me feel! I am just at a loss for words that don’t contain expletives!

    I am just so sorry this happened!

    Love and Light! xoxo

  66. xjustos
    July 31, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    you need to search your name on youtube

  67. July 31, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    Religion–The only socially acceptable form of insanity.
    Hatred–Only becomes socially acceptable under the “protection” of religion.

  68. David
    July 31, 2012 at 11:20 pm

    You sound like a nice guy. Thanks for calling out yet another example of “the shit things religion brings us”. It all helps to raise awareness about, well, the shit things that religion brings us.

    And keep rockin’ those handbags, dude, I especially like that of Galifianakis! 🙂

  69. July 31, 2012 at 11:21 pm

    I’ve also reached the conclusion that Baptists just flat out suck. I can’t tell whether it’s worse than Evangelicalism.

  70. Ali
    July 31, 2012 at 11:22 pm

    Baptists are notorious for their many rules and regulations. I have noticed that they seem to be the most judgemental and intolerant of any of the “Christian” groups, especially the Southern Baptists. Religious groups being judgemental, intolerant and having a holier than thou attitude is one of the reasons I have not set foot in church in probably 13 yrs and have not attended church in about 23 years.

  71. Elaine007
    August 1, 2012 at 1:41 am

    I am so sorry you had to experience such rude and inconsiderate behavior, even from an age group well-known for it. I must admit to some unseemly breaches of civility as a youth, very regrettable stuff. I can’t use drunkenness as an excuse in *all* of the incidents either. 🙁 One only can hope that maturity will instill empathy and kindness, regardless of their religious affiliation.

    I’ve known many kindhearted religious people, kindhearted atheists, mean religious, mean atheists. I’ll offer this-kindness and only kindness can defuse most situations. Two wrongs really don’t make a right. If we lower ourselves to the spiteful standards of the mean religious, we become mean atheists. Guess what, that plays right into their hands. I don’t mean “acting” nice either, but genuinely BEING nice, even in the face of hate. Imagine the damage atheists can do to the stereotypes if never a negative comment was posted on this or any other atheist blog? Imagine if we, secular, express empathy for the religious and their plight, instead of stereotyping in return? Debate Jesus’ existence all we want, but imagine if both religious and secular adhered to the ideal of “turn the other cheek”? As John Lennon noted, it can be if we let it be.

    Call me a tone troll, I just don’t care. Tone matters, like it or not. How we present ourselves will influence how many doors and minds open up.

    And yes, this chick is something of a minimalist who carries a wallet instead of a purse. Guess that makes me a dyke, huh? [I’m being sarcastic there.]

  72. fastlane
    August 1, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    Hey Al, I still wear a fanny pack (bumpack, I think, to the Yooro-peans 😉 ). I occasionally get…feedback… for it, but I’ve long since quit caring.

    Even though I’m straight, whenever someone thinks calling me gay, or faggot is an insult, I’ll usually play it up, ask them if they wanna make out, wink at them, etc. Puts ’em off their game real quick. I’m a bit of a bastard that way, though.

    …and you shall know them by their love. I think that’s written somewhere….

  73. Barbara
    August 1, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    You know, I always wonder how men manage to get around without purses. You sir are clearly wiser than most. And brave. Kudos.

    • Dan M.
      August 2, 2012 at 5:53 am

      Cargo pants. I’ve stopped buying trousers that don’t have at least six pockets.

  74. eric
    August 1, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    They took offense at a guy in a wheelchair using an armbag to hold his stuff? In a wheelchair? I don’t think I’ve seen a regular wheelchair user without some sort of bag. It just makes sense; if you’re forced to bring a cart along with you, why not take advantage of the extra carrying capacity it provides?

    If its any consolation, they sound so provincial they’d probably giggle and make limp-wrist gestures to a Scot in a kilt. Heck, they probably giggle at karate students in their gi.

  75. August 1, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    The older teen is the one who claims that if he himself were beaten and crippled, he would still go to Heaven.

  76. andrewflenniken
    August 1, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    Ah yes, another shining example of the ugliness of the Just World Fallacy in action.

  77. August 1, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    I don’t think I could ever keep up with running a blog like yours! Fantastic job and I just would like to see you keep up with it for a good long time.

  78. una salusvictus
    August 2, 2012 at 2:39 am

    Heh, well, I am disabled(fighting to get disability sucks), I have severe psoratic arthritus, I have yet to get anything more then a basic wheel chair for those times I cant walk or those times we go do something where I wouldnt be able to stay on my feet that long or walk that far.

    the I tend to carry a camara bag around, but I have done this since i was a kid, I rarely have gotten crap for it, and when I have, i just show people the kinda stuff I carry and they tend to get envious, I use it much like a purse/hand bag, but find the longer adjustable strap to be handy.

    Im strait, I have however gotten crap at times funny enough mostly when using the chair when fighting off a bad flare up……some people are just assholes, tho, I have noticed, 99% of the time the people who give me dirty looks or talk shit to/about me, are “christians” (crosses around necks and other overt signs they are religious) note the “” marks, because I also have met what I would call “True” christians like my aunt who truly live by their words and beliefs(like treating others as you would like to be treated and such)

    I was raised in the nazerien church, I worked in one for a time, also worked in another non-denominational church for a short time, and what I learned being around those hypocrites is, they are all great at the talk, but very very very few walk the walk, and very very very few are truly good people.

    on the other hand most people I know who are either athiests or not really religious have really been good people, not because the fear or because a book tells them to be good, but because its the right thing to do…..

    this kids lucky it wasnt me, I would have done 1 of 2 things if not both, 1. get a picture of the little prick, 2. get up and gimp my arse to the van to have a word with his group leader…(3. would have been to have had a talk with management about what they did, I also would have had an image of the van to share with them so they could tell them they where not welcome when they came back)

    Im VERY even tempered….infact its very hard to get me truly angery, despite what people say about “gingers”, I have thick skin….like most publicly educated people I know(specially other gingers….)

    but theres some crap I just dont tolerate, I dont get mad, I get determined to stop this kind of action.

    If you let this stuff slide, it never leads to anything good, if you call people on their actions, you may force them to rethink how they treat others, I once made a woman so upset by calling her on a rude comment she made about an indian (from india) waitress we had at a networking event that she couldnt talk for around half an hour, when she could, she was much more humble, later I found out she had gone to great lengths to apologize to the girl AND she left a large tip….

    it was a racist comment AND sexist, (complaining about how service was slow and how “they need to hire people who speak proper english not gobbledogook” (the girls english was VERY good, just an indian accent)

    I have also called teens on their actions many times, so much so that a few times I had to deal with angery parents, once one father was so mad that I had scolded his son that he threatens me with violence…..im a big guy, around 6′, 340lb…..i dont scare easy….it was all over me correcting his son on how he treated girls/women(the father was/is a sexist pig his son was becoming one), in the end, the kid saw his father back down and even show fear, it was interesting how over the next few weeks his attitude and treatment of the girls in the group changed…..he started to show respect….the even more interesting thing was when i talked with his mother and found out that he had not treated her with respect since he was fairly young, and he had now started treating her with respect, and even her husband was treating her better….

    It felt good to actually see change, this kid and his gang need corrected before it becomes the group norm.

    well, I wish you well (the OP and the reasonable posters here) Im headed to bed, I have to get up in a few hours….

  79. August 2, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    Sorry you had to go through that Al; what a little bastard.

  80. jnorris
    August 2, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    It has just occurred to me that the young kids in the van will hear about the older boy’s comment and may assume that any fellow parishioners in wheelchairs are gay.

  81. August 3, 2012 at 5:58 am

    “nice purse, faggot, no wonder you’re crippled”

    Response: “Oh my God, what is that? Is…. that…. (shakily stands up) It’s a miracle! I’m cured! Thank you Jesus! Hallelujah! (Points at the dumbstruck teenager) And YOU! God is very, very angry with you! He has cured me to deliver you a message, your spiteful hate will earn you an eternity in the fiery pits of Hell! Take heed, lest you follow in the footsteps of that pretender straight into the grasp of Satan Himself!!”

    Too soon to laugh at it? Too soon, I apologize, just amusing myself at the possibility of shattering that little shit’s entire reality in about thirty seconds

  82. Richard Chapman
    August 3, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    That teen will either never awake from his bigotry and spend the rest of his days in the swill of its ignorance, or, he will come to realize the true evil of his teachings and be shamed by his actions. Either way he suffers.

  83. Remyjaydot
    August 4, 2012 at 7:32 am

    Omg _ bring on the world where being GAY or FEMININE will not be an insult or b in any way shaming…. I can only hope that increasing awareness will spread and make gender stereotypes less and less effective… anyway lets all hope this particular douchebag teen gets a few lessons in empathy and just plain old rational thinking along the way somewhere. I am going to tout my own handbag out this weekend and will pick a fight with any selfriteous fuck that takes issue … In fact can we make a handbag day where all conscious males tout a manbag to break down this particular offensive and obnoxious steriotype? Who’s with me?

  84. jbrock
    August 12, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    Quoth mariorodgers:

    Baptists just flat out suck. I can’t tell whether it’s worse than Evangelicalism.

    Technically, probably not, considering they’re a subset of Evangelicalism. In fact, the Southern Baptist Convention is the largest Evangelical body in the USA, and therefore arguably the dominant voice in that movement.

    Which means that one of the two real political parties in the US today is controlled by people who are not only bigots, but who also think they can bring Jesus back by having a nuclear war in the Middle East.

  85. Brendan
    August 24, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    Hey, I’m a first time reader. I accidentally just stumbled across this blog, and kept reading because of the gentle wit wrinkled throughout your writing. Everything about you in your writing is just cool. Anyways, I’m both crippled and a bisexual. I also used to be a transvestite– I say used to in the sense that I no longer go into public in dresses, not that my eyes don’t still look fantastic with some liner– so I have very intimate experiences of the homophobic violence that is typical of adolescent males.

    Because I’m crippled, and have had neuropathy since birth, I use the internet obsessively and always have. The gain is that I’m exposed to some pretty severe cultural differences. This was not an instance of Christian hate, or more it was not an instance of hate resulting from Christianity. In my mind, this was American Christianity. I’ve always been an atheist, so don’t worry about me playing apologist. I only thought it relevant that outside of America, I’ve never encountered this nonsense. Most homosexuals and trannies will be abused, both physically and emotionally, multiple times before they become an adult. But it’s very unique to America that it is so commonly religiously motivated.

    Point I’m trying to wander around here is:

    A) Christianity is still a good faith and it’s not fair to hold them accountable for every redneck pasture with a flock of malice in his pocket

    B) I wish I too had a badass cherry red chair

    C) Come over to Canada, dude….who the hell tries to bully a fully grown handicapped man?

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