Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Boy, did they ever.
I have never, in my entire life, gotten MORE second looks, more stares, more doubletakes, more discomfort, more people moving OUT OF MY WAY than when I wore this shirt for the first time on Sunday.
On the flip side, I had a bunch of people BEAM at me. Go OUT OF THEIR WAY to be kind. Look at my shirt, then up at me, and then look away with a smile on their face. Start up conversations with me!
It made me think about how I don't LOOK Gay, at least according to the stereotypes. If I'm not holding my husband's hand, or smooching him, it's probably unexpected to see me, with our kid, doing regular Dad things, and know that I'm Gay.
And yet there I was, wearing a T-shirt that tells the world that I'm Gay supportive. Interestingly, the shirt didn't say "Hi, I'm GAY!" It was a statement in support of Gay Equality. And yet, how much self-confidence would a straight man need to wear it?
The experience got me thinking about the whole phenomenon of "Driving while Black," and how for some people, there's NEVER a moment when people don't know their minority status, for bad and for good. I have a new-found sense of humility, realizing the relentlessness with which my non-white friends must deal with everyone's instant reactions to their identity. While I've known this intellectually, it was a different thing entirely to EXPERIENCE it.
Being gay can be different - it's not always so evident on the outside - and wearing those words on my T-shirt made people REACT!
It was exhausting, and sobering, and exhilarating, all at once.
Wearing that shirt made me pretty self-conscious. And very conscious of who was around me. And checking my surroundings to make sure I felt safe where I was.
But wearing that shirt also made me stand up taller. And walk (okay, maybe I strutted a bit...) more confidently. Because if you don't agree with "Legalize Gay," get out of my way.
And then I saw this banner:
Sometimes, being Gay (and wearing it proudly) means having the courage to not care about what other people think!
And you know what? After the entire day in my new "Legalize Gay" shirt, I can't wait to wear it again!
ps- YOU can get a "Legalize Gay" shirt where I got mine, here!