And so a man got on the Q train, and in loud and ponderous tones began to deliver his version of the word of Jesus Christ. I turned up my headphones and looked back down... at Dr. Who.
And what is the point of Dr. Who, if I don't stand up against what I see as wrong?
I looked around at my fellow passengers: headphone'd, or looking away. I looked at him: African-American, greying, advanced middle age. No bag or pack. I timed it such that I would have maybe half a minute, before Union Square. (Because I am a coward, and need escape routes.) And as he got to the bit about the One True Savior, I raised my voice.
Four people looked up at me. The preacher did not detectably miss a beat.
"Please stop." I can be heard when I want to. "Please stop." He was still preaching to the other half of the car, but most of them were looking up now. "This is a public train. Please stop." He did a slow turn back to me, made eye contact, kept going. "We have a right to a public space without private religion. Please stop." By now the train was pulling in, and it was gratifying when so many stood up with me even though it was probably their station.
Once more, to them as much as him. "We have a right to a space without this."
As we left, a young man muttered to him, loud enough to hear, "dude, nobody cares."
I stopped at the train attendant's window, asked if anything could be done about the man preaching so upsettingly in the car ahead. "He's got free speech." I pointed out the bit about public transportation, and he said unconvincingly that he would call a police officer if he saw one. He was perfectly happy to let me on the next car down, though, so that was nice.
I'm still unpacking the non-confrontation, to myself. A bit of relevant context: I'm slim and white and young. I wear indie jewelry and black sneakers, and my haircut looks not far from Rachel Maddow's. It's not difficult to draw conclusions about my sexuality, and either way it's not difficult to imagine that my crowd support - such as it was - wasn't based completely on merit.
I still did it. I'd do it again. It didn't affect much, visibly. But it's a big deal to me.
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