Last weekend I went dancing. I walked into the bar, trying not to feel intimidated by the crushing press of women around me. It was Dyke Night at the Milky Way in JP. I pushed to the small room where women were dancing. Sure, I’d rather dance to funk, or some live rock, but I can get down to the top 40s if that’s what’s on. I danced until I was exhausted, sweat dripping down my back.
I ventured outside, where the air was wild with the proximity of a hurricane. Desultory rain drops cooled my face as I walked up the block and back. As I approached the front of the club, I saw something that made me do a double-take: A well muscled man had his arm around a slender woman’s neck, squeezing tight as her face turned red.
I looked around. Five or six people including the bouncer stood watching. Uh uh, no way! I thought, as I ran to the overhang.
“What are you doing?!” I yelled, and he instantly let go of his choke hold. The woman sagged in his arms, sobbing and gasping.
“Stay out of it, she’s his boyfriend!” Yelled a woman from the sidelines. Galvanized into action, the bouncer grabbed the woman, holding her up and immobilized against the wall.
“What do you need?” I asked, putting my hand over hers on the wall.
“Stay out of it.” The bouncer said. Now from her boyfriend dominating her, he was. At least he wasn’t hurting her. “What’s going on?” He asked her ‘friends.’
“She’s really drunk and he’s her boyfriend. He’s driving her home.” Opined one of the bystanders.
“So they came here together?” He asked. A bull dyke who I believe is one of the owners came up, supporting the woman from behind as she wailed and sobbed.
“I know her.” She said.
“What do you want?” He asked. “Do you want to go home with him?” She sobbed incoherently.
“Help me! Help me! ” She pleaded.
“How can we help you?” The woman holding her asked. The slender brunette staggered in her arms, sobbing drunkenly.
“She came here with her boyfriend. She needs to go home with him.” Put in a bystander.
“You don’t have to.” I said. “Do you want a taxi home? You don’t have to let him abuse you.”
“He wasn’t abusing her. He’s her boyfriend!” She said scornfully. “They’ve been together for like a year!”
“I was with my abusive boyfriend for more than a year!” Her eyes widened.
In the end they calmed her down and talked her into going home with her boyfriend. Her boyfiend, who had been silent during much of this, pitched in by threatening to have her committed if she didn’t go with him. I tried to stand up for her, but I was too outnumbered. All these people claimed to know her, claimed to be her friend, but they just stood there as she was being choked and then sent her home with her attacker.
As she got back into the car I went in the club. I felt shaken, but I wanted to say goodbye to some friends before going home. Somehow I didn’t feel like dancing anymore. A thin woman with shoulder length dirty blond hair walked up to me.
“Is that woman alright?” She asked. I explained what happened. “I’m a social worker. I got there when you did. I saw him choking her. I wanted to tell her I would pay for her to get a cab home!”
“Why didn’t you?” I asked, even one more person might have tipped the balance.
“Well, you were there.”