He had been comparing the stench of those who partake in, and those who marry couples in gay marriages as "rank with the scent of a dead dog" along with all the usual fire and brimstone. I finally lost my cool and hollered at him to shut the hell up, and that nobody wanted to deal with his hate speech, probably at all, but definitely this early in the day. If anyone, of any creed, had been making any of the comparisons he was, blandly, with religious righteousness, about any racial group or gender, it would have been a hate crime. This guy, instead, was hollering and getting away with it.
The subway car was packed, and I was sitting on the far end of the car from where he was stationed. I hadn't seen the guy, but as soon as i hollered back, several other people started shouting him down as well. He was quiet for about 30 seconds, and i thought to myself "Good, he has the sense to stfu".
Instead, he broke his brief window of silence as we were coming into Chambers St., and shouted "Don't be mislead by the shouts of the devil! He is the mad dog who would lead the flock astray, then tear out their throats..." He then continued on about how me, my sins and lack of faith, and my obvious homosexuality were going to lead me to hellfire and damnation for all eternity, and that transgressions against the Holy Spirit cannot be forgiven.
I put my book away, got up, shouldered my bag, and forced my way through the train. I hate moving in packed train cars, and I tend to try and find someplace to sit, where I take up less room than I do standing up. I always worry about hitting someone, crushing someone, or stepping on someone's feet. I've unintentionally hurt a lot of people over time doing this, so I try, whenever possible, to hole up and _not move_. The whole time I'm struggling past people in dumb mute, this guy is getting louder and higher-pitched about how the tools of the devil will lead people astray. The few people who got a backbone and started shouting at him to shut up when I broke the ice moments earlier all got quiet as I forced my way into his view across the packed car.
I got a look at him as I squeezed past the last fat white guy in a too-small suit. The preacher was a clean-shaven black man, probably in his mid-30's, fit and well muscled, carrying a cane he clearly didn't need (which immediately got my spidey sense tingling - if this got physical, he was armed). I thought to myself "it's a god pimp" until he turned and looked at me with with the crazy eyes. By crazy eyes, I don't necessarily mean cookie monster eyes, but I do mean that he couldn't look anyone straight in the face, between his manufactured rapture, and his ocular disabilities. This guy was kinda gone, and probably wasn't going to listen to reason. I was committed though, and was either going to shut him up or toss him off the train at 14th.
I got right in his face (he was about a foot shorter than I was) and said, very lowly, trying not to make too much out of it "Look, I'm trying to be nice here. It is too early for this crap. Please either give it up, or move to another car."
He screamed/spat in my face "Don't be nice! Don't be polite!" Then started foaming about the devil in his midst. I took a step closer to him, which he backed up from (which basically forced him up against the subway door, and also forced his cane hand up against the little wall of handles at the end of every seating section in the new trains) and told that I was being nice because I didn't want a scene, but if he wanted a scene, I could give him one.
At this point, half the people who were trying to ignore him before were completely enthralled by the scene. There was more than one smile, but more than one was nervous. Some of the people who had seemed interested in him shutting up now looked scared at the potential of violence. He was slowly turning purple as he stammered at me getting in his face. I've seen it before. He was walking the line between checking the bluff and trying to get a cheap shot in. I was holding my breath, and tightening my gut in case he tried to wind me on a cheap shot. I had to really stop myself hard from laughing when a mental image of a California raisin suddenly forced it's way into my forebrain, possibly in a combination of irritation and lack of oxygen.
He started up again, right where he had started the first time, when I had first gotten on the train. He checked the bluff. We were maybe a minute, tops, from 14th street. I snapped. I started shouting back at him all the things in my icon. If he wanted to preach, preach it straight, sometimes the devil is a black man wearing white, instead of a white man wearing black, that only those who speak words that sound true and ring false will truly face damnation in the eyes of their peers.
I got biblical, but not literally. I feel bad for anyone who was on that train in the last minute that was faithful, because I said some things putting him in his place on religion that were not very nice. I may have even cursed two or three times. I was loud. I cowed him. He tried to over shout me and lost.
He jumped off at 14th street, and I sat back down and re-opened my book. One of the spiny/spineless ladies I mentioned before thanked me when she got out at Penn station. "I seemed trapped until someone else said something." she said, running out the door.
That was pretty much the start of my day. I've been waiting for it to get better ever since.