A Pride Media editor and his husband were called "pedophiles" by a man who saw them on an Amtrak train with their children.
Neal Broverman, editorial director for print media at Pride, The Advocate's parent company, and his husband, Robbie Pierce, were traveling from Los Angeles to Oakland, Calif., Tuesday on Amtrak's Coast Starlight. They were accompanied by their 6-year-old son and 5-year-old foster child. They were enjoying the ride and looking out the windows, and then a fellow passenger approached them while the train was stopped at San Jose.
"All of a sudden, there was a man standing there next to me," Pierce says. The man said to their son, "Remember what I told you earlier. They stole you and they're pedophiles," Pierce recounts. The man was very aggressive and said gay people were an abomination.
"I stood up and just was saying, 'Get away,'" Pierce says. But the man kept yelling at them, saying they weren't a family, that gays steal Black and Asian children and rape them. Broverman is white and Pierce Latinx, while their son is Black and foster child is Latinx. It turned out the man had been sitting a few rows behind them and had confronted their son previously when the boy had gone to the restroom on his own.
An Amtrak employee eventually ordered the harasser to leave the train, but he refused. Amtrak workers then called local police, who arrived after about 45 minutes and escorted the man off. The conductor asked Broverman and Pierce to fill out a police report, which they did, and they are waiting to hear what action will be taken.
Amtrak was not immediately available for comment for this story.
Pierce says that a few times before, passersby have questioned why they have their children, but this was the first time he and Broverman were called pedophiles. "It's a new level of homophobia out there," he says.
"We've seen the white Karen who's like, 'Why did you kidnap this child?'" Pierce says. Then they've been confronted by some Black people who are upset that non-Black parents have been able to adopt a Black child. The man on the train was Black. Pierce says he knows the child placement system is racist, but "we can't fix that," he says.
Pierce says LGBTQ+ parents need to be aware that things like this are going to happen and prepare their children for them. And everyone, targets of this rhetoric and allies alike, need to denounce it and make clear it has to stop.
Pierce also detailed the exchange on Twitter.