By far the most viral story of this past weekend is Florida mommyblogger Katie Vyktoriah's terrifying tale of bigotry encountered at a local Walmart.
The 31-year-old Davenport mother of two, who writes about her family life on AMotherThing.com, recounted an exchange with a surly burly homophobe who manhandled her two-year-old son, allegedly for wearing a "feminine" headband, before hurling anti-gay epithets at the toddler.
It all started with a recent trip to Walmart, which Katie says Dexter did not particularly want to take, especially without his favorite "lace flower headband."
A few things you should know about Dexter: He is gregarious, happy-go-lucky, loves Dora the Explorer, and his favorite color is pink.
So Dexter and his mom are wandering around the superstore's aisles, and people are coming out of the woodwork to compliment the boy on his choice of headgear.
"The fact that he was wearing a cute girly headband made him feel good, and he was charming all the old ladies by waving like a little pageant prince," Katie recalled in a blog post entitled "Getting Political."
But just as they were getting ready to check out, things suddenly took a very ugly turn.
Katie says the incident occurred after a pair of teen girls asked her through giggles if her child was "a boy or a girl."
After she happily responded "he's a boy," a man within earshot suddenly roared "THAT'S a BOY?!"
Katie describes the patron as "very large with a bushy beard and a camouflage shirt with the arms cut off."
His lace-up work boots had no laces, and "the fug of cigarette smoke" and "pong of beer" surrounded him.
Katie replied affirmatively, prompting the man to rip the headband off Dexter and, after lightly slapping the boy on his head, tell him "you'll thank me later, little man."
Her maternal instincts kicking in, Katie moved in front of Dexter to shield him, before telling the man "If you touch my son again, I will cut your damn hands off."
To which he responded: "Your son is a fucking faggot. He'll get shot for it one day."
Katie notes that, despite an abundance of eyewitnesses, not one shopper volunteered support or consolation.
[My husband] Mark and I are both completely supportive of love in all forms. Be you gay, straight, bisexual, transsexual or polygamous, it is YOUR business. I don't judge, and I don't try and change you.
And if one or both of my kids grow up to realize they are any of these things, it will not change a thing about how I feel toward them.
But right now, the fact that homophobia is so rampant, that gay marriage is still seen as dirty because homosexuals are "lesser" somehow and don't deserve to have the same rights as straight folk, that people like that man in Walmart even EXIST makes me fear for my kids and their futures.
While we may accept and support whoever our kids turn out to be, I am scared beyond words at what it would mean for them if they ARE gay. Why should anyone have to live in fear because they fall in love with someone that you or someone else doesn't agree with? Why should mothers and fathers of gay kids have to have an extra layer of terror at night because they know that the world at large is against their child?
On Facebook, Katie says she has contacted the Polk County Sheriff's Office and the "ongoing harassment" was documented and is currently being investigated.
UPDATE: Certain developments following this story's first appearance have called into question its veracity, not the least of which is Vyktoriah's brief but significant stay in involuntary psychiatric hold.
[photos via Huffington Post]