Chicago Gay Couple Says Kiss Got Them Ordered Off City Bus
Two gay men in Chicago weren’t ordered to the back of a city bus--they were ordered to get off the bus altogether because they were holding hands and kissing, reported CBS Chicago on Nov. 3.
Twenty-two year-old Christopher Buchanan and Derrell Hughes, both African American gay men, described how the bus driver ordered them to get off the No. 146 Inner Drive-Michigan Express bus after a white woman complained to the driver about them holding hands and kissing. Buchanan said that a white gay couple was also kissing, but no one seemed to mind.
When the two responded that they were not getting off the bus, the driver summoned the police, who, in turn, were unable to do anything about the situation because the two men were not breaking the law.
But Buchanan said he and his boyfriend went through two hours of hassle without getting any closer to their destination, and so they finally got off the bus on their own.
The denial of service took place on Oct 22, reported GLBT publication the Windy City Times. The article also said that the bus driver subjected the young men to profanity and to anti-gay and sexist epithets.
"He said, ’You bitches need to get off the bus,’ " Buchanan recalled. " ’I can’t stand fags.’ "
Buchanan went on to note that not only had he and his boyfriend not broken the law, but also they had been subjected to standards of conduct that were not uniformly enforced.
"Where does it state on CTA we can’t kiss on the bus?" the young man asked. "Straight people kiss on the bus all the time."
"A similar incident happened in New York in July when singer Ari Gold and his boyfriend were told to move to the back of the bus because they were holding hands," reported Advocate.com in its Nov. 3 article.
EDGE reported on July 15 that on the previous Sunday, "Gold had a confrontation with a New York City bus driver who reacted negatively when he saw Gold holding hands with boyfriend Timothy Nelson.
"Nelson and Gold were en route to the Catskills to visit Gold’s parents when the incident occurred," the EDGE article continued. "The pair were sitting holding hands in the front of a bus not, according to Gold, in view of the bus driver. The driver had come on board to take over the route from another driver and likely noticed the couple when he boarded the bus. He then asked Gold and Nelson to move to the back of the bus. Gold was astonished and told the bus driver they weren’t going to move. The bus driver then pulled the bus to the side of the road and called the police."
"It was clear to everyone on the bus," Gold told EDGE, "including the police that were called onto the scene that our civil rights were being violated... and to be told to move to the back of the bus. It was just strange."
It wasn’t just Gold’s rights that the driver dismissed; every passenger on the bus was denied service for the time during which the driver was occupied with contacting the police and then fruitlessly attempting to coax the responding officer to deal with the couple, despite the fact that they had not broken the law.
"The bus was stopped for fifteen minutes while the driver spoke to the state trooper who responded to his call," the EDGE article reported. "Gold told the Advocate about what happened next," the article continued.
"He (the trooper) said that nothing we were doing is illegal," Gold related. "The bus driver kept asking the trooper, ’Is there nothing you can do?’ The trooper said ’no’. Then the state trooper again gave us the option of moving to the back of the bus.
"Even though the trooper didn’t arrest us, we didn’t feel particularly protected by them because at that point I asked if we could file a report so it was all written down," Gold continued. "It was so clear that the driver described that his problem was with us sitting there. It was clear that it was the fact that we were two men holding hands. We hadn’t been kissing or anything like that. Since we had the trooper as a witness I wanted the report to be filed, but he wouldn’t file it."
In both instances, superiors to the drivers promised investigations.
Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor, writing about film, theater, food and drink, and travel, as well as contributing a column. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.