All the Small Things: People Doing Nice Things for Lesbians

Random acts of gay kindness have been happening around the country! The few I collected ease the wage gap, help out lovesick convicts, and involve revenge. Do they sound awesome yet? I put in pictures of girls being “friends” for you.

If you live in New York City, you’ve been within distance of two random acts of gay kindness as of late. One comes from a small businessowner, Karen Paperno. Only this was even better because it was an act of lesbian kindness: she’s offering a discount at her Park Slope maternity boutique, Boing Boing, for lesbian moms. Paperno’s explanation for the store’s new policy is that women suffer economic losses from the wage gap that have recently been taking a more serious toll on the lesbian couples in her ‘hood. That’s right – gay people finally have someone trying to keep us in the neighborhood! She hopes her discount makes it possible for lesbian couples raising children in that area to stay, instead of being forced out by their worsening economic conditions. This is really sweet, right? I know, let’s hug and stuff.

But as if that wasn’t already forcing New York lesbians to get out of bed, a bunch of gay people in prison there today found out that it is now legal for their partners to visit them, right there, in the big house! Hopefully this is a very pressing issue for most of you here, as one never knows when one will end up in jail and miss a woman’s touch.

The law, which was actually written and passed in 2008 by Governor David Paterson, went into the state register today. And it grants partners of inmates involved in same-sex marriages or civil unions the right to conjugal visits, in addition to allowing partners to see their loved ones if they are terminally ill. So hey, better late than never, I guess. Let’s keep hugging:

To spread the love, our neighbors to the North in Vancouver recently did justice for a lesbian couple that had been harassed in a comedy club – by a comedian.  The amateur comedian Guy Earle was just ordered to pay $15,000 to Lorna Pardo, who filed a lawsuit last year about an incident three years ago where Pearle taunted and made a joke out of Pardy and her partner at Zesty’s Restaurant. (And now, the owner of the restaurant also has to pay her $7,500.)

Earle is going to be seeking a pardon but, well, I venture to say the punch line’s over. Now, a final hug:

And go have a good day, friends.

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Carmen spent six years at Autostraddle, ultimately serving as Straddleverse Director, Feminism Editor and Social Media Co-Director. She is now the Consulting Digital Editor at Ms. and writes regularly for DAME, the Women’s Media Center, the National Women’s History Museum and other prominent feminist platforms; her work has also been published in print and online by outlets like BuzzFeed, Bitch, Bust, CityLab, ElixHER, Feministing, Feminist Formations, GirlBoss, GrokNation, MEL, Mic and SIGNS, and she is a co-founder of Argot Magazine. You can find Carmen on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr or in the drive-thru line at the nearest In-N-Out.

Carmen has written 919 articles for us.


  1. I love acts of lesbian kindness. It is so nice to see some good news and good things happening.

  2. People were required to pay $22,500 for making fun? What bunk. Unless what was said was, “The coordinated lynching and murder of these people will commence in 5… 4… 3…” its stupid.

    I like the name of Karen Paperno’s boutique :D.

    • It wasn’t just “making fun”. I’ve read reports that say he got in their faces, broke one woman’s sunglasses, and advocated for “corrective rape” (but in much more offensive terms). It was really way out of line.

      • From the article I read about it: “Mr Earle said: ‘So then I broke into it, I said you’re fat and ugly, you’re not even lesbian, no guy will f*** ya that’s why you’re with each other.
        ‘Somebody put a c*** in her mouth and shut her the f*** up. Which one of you wears the strapon dildo, because silicone c*** crazy is still c*** crazy in my book’, he said.

        ‘I lost it for two seconds, this is the part that I publicly apologize for’, said Mr Earle.
        He explained that he pulled her sunglasses off her head and broke them in half, ‘like a little baby dumb***’. ”

        a bit more than making fun, i’d say…

        • For me, the question is, “Would I rather be comfortable, but live in a society where people could be fined thousands simply for saying something offensive, or would I rather be uncomfortable, but live in a society where freedom to express yourself was respected?” Uncomfortable freedom for me, thanks, and I mean really, really, really uncomfortable.

          • Yes but when somebody is intentionally targeting somebody else because of their race, gender, sexuality, etc. then it becomes more than just “free speech” it becomes hateful speech and harassment. It’s not just that these things were offensive it was that he intentionally singled out this woman, harassed her in front of a crowd, physically confronted her, and was being really intimidating and violent. I think if I were in her shoes I would feel more than just uncomfortable, I would feel threatened and fear for my safety. Especially since he wasn’t kicked out of the place and nobody did anything about it.

          • This guy’s conduct could meet the definition of assault* on multiple grounds, though. Uncomfortable freedom is one thing, but surely this is another? I definitely am not up for a society where someone is legally entitled to physically intimidate me, rip my property off my person and destroy it, and suggest I need to be correctively raped – whether for my sexual orientation or any other reason.

            *I am working off an Australian definition here, but I assume it’d be quite similar in Canada.

          • Whaaaaat?? They’re not “simply offensive things.” lol

            I equate my status as a gay lady with the pride of being a minority and a woman. If someone were to yell those incendiary remarks to me or to public for being any of these, there should be some MAJOR problems resolved.

            Just imagine how many people would be doing the same if the stakes weren’t so expensive.

    • Oh, and that supposed to be “it’s stupid.”

      No idea why I’m concerning myself with grammar rules right now. Usually I just ignore them completely :D.

  3. So, I hate to be a negative Nancy, but… offering a discount to only lesbians is kind of douchey, IMHO. I mean, plenty of families of all sizes and orientations are being negatively affected by the economy, and most families I know, gay, straight or otherwise, don’t have a lot of disposable income. I actually heard about this from following Dr. Ruth on Twitter (who is awesome, by the way), and she raised a good point. What about single moms in the area that are moving because of economic hardship? Talk about not having any disposable income.

    Okay, maybe I don’t hate being negative. I prefer to call it “Devil’s Advocate”.

    • Well, I mean, if you gave a discount to everyone that would kind of ruin the point of having a discount, right?

      • No, actually discounts are given to “everyone” all the time. They’re called “sales” or “rebates” or “lower prices.”

        It makes little sense to just assume that all lesbians have lower income than anyone else.

    • From what I’ve read on Jezebel, she actually gives hardship discounts all the time, but this is just the one that’s being advertised.

    • I understand your argument, but I don’t see what she’s doing as douchey. She’s using her limited resources to help a specific group. We shouldn’t be criticizing her for not helping EVERY group, or not helping the MOST disadvantaged group. It’s not a zero sum-game. Offering support to one disadvantaged group doesn’t detract from the others’.

      And it’s worth noting that in interviews, the owner says she offers several kinds of hardship discounts. But those don’t make for good headlines.

    • People are offered discounts all the time for various things; being over or under a certain age, under a certain income, veterans of the military, related to employees of a certain company, etc. This doesn’t seem any different!

      Not saying that this is what you’re doing (playing devil’s advocate is great, it makes people think!), but often people criticize what someone IS doing (in this case, giving a discount to lesbian moms) instead of criticizing what others AREN’T doing (helping in any way, shape, or form). I’d rather see discounts offered to a group that wasn’t my own and that I knew was struggling than see them not offered at all… is this making any sense at all?

  4. A straight friend of mine in Clarksville TN owns an Anytime fitness. She said her gym gives buy one get one free memberships to married couples. One day she saw an older lesbian couple wearing rings, and asked if they were a committed couple. One of the ladies said “yes we are” rather defensively, as you can imagine in TN. Then my friend mentioned the offer, and said if they could show via drivers license, or whatever that they lived at the same address she would give them the same discount. The ladies were a little shocked at being sought out for something nice. They said ‘OMG is this allowed?” She said “it’s my gym, I can do whatever i want.”

  5. Having been out all my life and pretty upfront about everything, probably have seen the very best and the very worst in people. Overall, the “very best” side of the ledger wins out. Most people are decent human beings. There are always the assholes, idiots, and malcontents, but by and large people are just trying to make it through.

  6. I don’t really know where else to put this and I want to tell someone so I figure I’ll tell Autostraddle.

    I just came out to my parents literally 10 minutes ago.
    And it went really well, and everything is fine.
    So my parents did something nice for a lesbian.
    And I’m just crying out of sheer relief.
    So um, yeah.

    Thank you to Autostraddle for helping me come to terms with my stuff and for giving me to the courage to finally do it. I spent 2 hours beforehand reading the stories on the old National Coming Out Day thread. :’)

    -sigh of relief-

    • Zeeby, this is beautiful. Congratulations! You can’t imagine how happy I am for you. The truly hard part is now behind you. Love you.

      • Aw shucks and now I’m crying again. :’)
        Thank you, so so much. You have no idea how much it means to me that someone read that. :) Love you also.

    • Congrats on coming out! I’m so happy it went well for you! Good for your parents for being so loving and accepting :)

    • Congratulations for being brave and honest – with yourself and with them!!


  7. I don’t think it’s bunk. The more we allow people to passively make hurtful comments as if they are no big thing, the more we are sending a message that it’s okay to discriminate based on orientation.

    Even if the offenders are supporters and friends of gays who mean no harm, it still isn’t cool. A group of my close (straight) friends were laughing the other day about some anecdote they heard at work “Silly faggot, dicks are for chicks”

    You can bet I said spoke up about it. People think they’re pardoned from saying potentially hurtful things in jest because they either are queer themselves or are friends with someone who is.

    It’s no different than black people calling themselves and one another “niggers”. Whether meant as a joke or not, words like ‘nigger’ and ‘faggot’ , are painful at the roots and should have died out long ago, but haven’t, because people still throw them around “jokingly”.

    • You did what I would consider to be the correct thing: spoke to the people involved about the problem. But when people stop doing that and start suing each other instead . . .

      In the article that is linked, it’s apparent that everyone involved, including the comedian, willingly went to a place called The Insult Factory, and then got upset when they were insulted.

      The woman said she got PTSD and missed work over it. Seriously? I’m a butch homo, all the way out there in public daily. If I conducted my life the way this woman has, I would be drooling in a playpen in a nursery somewhere. People who allow themselves to be so hurt by someone who’s obviously a worthless ass have problems.

      • After hearing this information, my opinions have drasticly changed. There is such a place known as an insult facory?!? People actually go there for entertainment?!?

        And can I just say yay for butch homos! You ladies are so strong in my opinion. I see what my wife goes through everytime someone accidently mistakes her for a man on the basis of a short glance out of the corner of thier eye and yet she’s still so proud of being butch…and we all know confidence is sexy!

    • But it’s not for you to tell black people what words they can or cannot use to refer to themselves. Especially when you use the word “queer” which similarly has painful roots.

  8. Sheeby- Congrats!!! That is awesome that you came out, its such a great feeling. And I love people doing nice things for other people, even if its not just for lesbians!! (but i’ll take it!) Send some niceness to Chicagooo!

  9. You all win all the things for being nice to me.

    Also my official stance on this post is much the same as lovekathleen’s – nice things = good, no matter which sexual orientation etc. it caters to. :) Let’s just be thankful for acts of kindness, there are too few.

  10. “That’s right – gay people finally have someone trying to keep us in the neighborhood!”

    whaaaaaaaaaa? park slope was the territory of dykes waaaay before all these straight families started moving in! it is a gay neighborhood–or, it used to be before the massive wave of yuppies coming in drove the rents up.
    & there’s a lot more to dyke slope to keep queers in the neighborhood than a baby boutique discount–like the food co-op, a general tolerant attitude towards queers, and the freakin’ lesbian herstory archives!

    i don’t mean to be a pain. i really enjoyed this article otherwise!

  11. Alright so to comment again on this- I had to. I was at work today with a patient getting pre-medical history and she, out of no where, starts going on on about how her daughter at college came out that she (the mother) is mortified! She continued to rant on about how the gay community does no good for anyone. How they only care about themselves. She went on for a good 10 minutes, not knowing that i’m a lesbian. If lesbians do not do good in the world and only care about themselves… why am I working in the medical field? Ahh right, because I have a heart! Some people are so narrow-minded!! I continued with my Monday with a smile though :) Happy May everyone!

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