My name is Michael Weferling and I’m from Camden, Maine.
One night earlier this month, I was walking down to the train platform to get home. I needed to put money on my Metrocard and after I did that I was approached by two men at the turnstile, one of which still needed to get through the turnstile. They asked me for a swipe. I didn’t have one and I just said no and continued to go through the turnstile down to the train.
Then I heard one of them yell “Stupid faggot!”
They may have seen me as an easy target because I happened to be wearing a glittery backpack.
I turned around and replied, “I’d rather be a rich faggot than a poor hetero.”
They did not react to this well and it may have been because they took it the wrong way and did not understand the layers to what I was saying. But what I meant by “I would rather be a rich faggot than a poor hetero” is that I am rich in my self-respect and my self-love. And I have my self-worth. I have people that love me. I have people that care about me. I have people that care about my self-love and my self-worth and that they would be deeply concerned if anything were ever to threaten that.
I continued to walk down to the… my specific train platform. And I could hear the men following me.
The men were saying things like, “Where are you sweetness?” and “Let’s get him.” I tried to figure out the best way that they would not be able to find me and see which train I was getting on to. Right as my train arrived, the two men saw me board on to the specific subway car that I had chosen. The man then went to a vantage point where they could make eye contact with me and mimed to curb-stomp while making eye contact with me as a means to intimidate me.
I looked down at my phone and began to play some music to calm myself down. I then looked up from my phone and saw four women in pink multi-colored jackets and I knew that they could help me in this situation. I stood up. I walked towards the women with the four multi-colored pink jackets and I asked them if they could see the men at the other end of the subway car. They said that they could. I then said to them, if anything happens to me please remember the faces of these men.
One of the ladies then had a great idea and said that it would be best to walk me all the way to my apartment. I quickly agreed with whatever idea they had because I was quickly running out of them as we were approaching to stop, my subway stop.
We reached the stop. I stood up with the four women. We walked out of the subway car and onto the platform. All I could hear where the two men following the man that had it out for me to get his revenge, and his henchman, his follower.
And all I could hear was one of the guys say, “We’ll get you next time.” And all he ever got as a response were the four women in the pink multi-colored jackets and the young man that they were escorting with the glittery backpack.
I sat down with the ladies and thanked them for their help, for their assistance. And I went and recapped, I went and retold everything that had happened that night leading up to that specific situation. And we hugged each other and went our separate ways. I just went to bed that night being reflective and a little more grateful for the fact that I was able to stand up for myself, I was able to ask for help when I needed it, and I was able to send, more importantly, a clear message to these bigots that they were not going to get their way.
I think that now more than ever, people need to know that if they feel like they’re in danger because of things that they cannot change and for simply being themselves, that they need to know that they can ask for help from somebody that they trust, whether it be a family member, a loved one, a friend or a stranger on the train.