Do you get excited at the thought of packing up the car and heading home for the holidays or setting off on a cross-country road trip? I don’t.
When my girlfriend, Lara, and I travel on the road, we have to take precautions. We’re constantly on guard against strangers. Lara is a transgender woman of color, and at rest stops I’m never far from her side, guarding her like a Secret Service agent. Lara doesn’t want to stop at gas stations, and she’ll have me pump gas so that no one can see her and try to size her up.
Late one evening this year, Lara and I were driving home to Charlotte, N.C., from Wilmington, N.C., a three-hour trip. We stopped at a service station in a small town called Whiteville. As I filled the tank and Lara sat in the car, I saw a group of people who could have been extras on “Duck Dynasty” gathered by two pickup trucks. I could feel them glaring at us.
One truck screeched out of the gas station, while the other remained. I got into the passenger seat without telling Lara what I saw and fell asleep. About an hour later, she woke me up with words you never want to hear: “We’re being followed.”