Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Walking While GAY - I spent the day wearing my new "Legalize Gay" shirt - and people NOTICED!

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!

Be Proud!


ps- YOU can get a "Legalize Gay" shirt where I got mine, here!


melanie hope greenberg said...

The universe pointed out the play of the pairs of opposites. Staying
between praise and blame is a challenge that can be conquered.
Stay strong! Namaste xoxmhg

BookChic said...

That's awesome! I was watching Kathy Griffin last night on DList and she was wearing her shirt too. I had never seen that shirt before, and now twice in less than 24 hours, lol.

Tara said...

I had only recently heard about that shirt -- unfortunately, it was in response to a Washington, D.C. news report. A store in my area, I think it was American Apparel, was vandalized and the employees and manager have received death threats for having this shirt available and in the big display windows.

Karol S. said...

Nice piece, Lee!

I, too, have experienced "obvious minority" status due to my disability. The looks I get from strangers range from pity to disgust, and it can get a bit old. Sometimes, though, it makes things easier (no one gives me the evil eye when I park in a handicapped space, which some of my less obviously disabled friends get). I sure wouldn't mind occasionally be able to "pass as normal" like I could back in high-school.

About the shirt - I like it, but I don't wear green. I plan to get a shirt made with my profile picture graphic (which I did up myself in Word). It's more colorful! If you want one, let me know.

Tobias said...

I manage to keep forgetting that most GLBT people *don't* get those reactions on a day to day basis. My partner and I are both pretty obvious even when we're apart, as are most of our friends.

Btw, if you like the Legalise Gay shirt you may also like the Some People Are Gay. Get Over It! shirts from the UK's Stonewall organisation.

MotherReader said...

I wanted to think of a clever and insightful comment, but all that comes to mind is "Good for you." For experimenting, for being reflective, and for sharing.

J.H. Trumble said...

Some day a shirt like that WON'T be worthy of a second glance. I hope I'm around to see it. Love to you and yours! In the meantime, I'm gonna get me one. Signed, Straight but in your Corner in Texas

Anonymous said...

What Mother Reader said. I don't have anything wonderfully witty to say but I'm proud to know you, proud to call you friend. Thanks for blazing trails so that many, including our youth, might have an easier time finding their way.

Catch My Words said...

You wore your shirt in California. Try wearing one in Tennessee and you'd probably see a lot stronger reaction. In fact, I bet someone would preach gospel to you. I voted in support of gay marriage in our state but was one of only 20% to do so. Sadly, I keep feeling the need to announce my sexual orientation in my post just to avoid what you're going through, so you are brave. Stay strong.

Lee Wind, M.Ed. said...

Thanks everyone for your kind words! Joyce, Tara, Janet: I hear what you're saying. But it is such good news to know that in each of your corners of the world, you are making things better for GLBTQ people. In some ways, what you are doing: being gay-friendly in decidedly unfriendly environments - is MUCH more brave than my wearing my shirt here in LA. I'm proud of you all! And it makes me feel much better about visiting Texas, and D.C., and Tennessee, knowing you're there!

Lilly S. said...

It's good to hear that you get positive feedback, not only negative, from wearing that shirt. Even though I'm not gay myself I have quite a few gay friends, and I must say I feel blessed that we live in a country as liberal as Norway. I almost feel bad that we don't need to wear those shirts in Norway, though I suppose we could to show our support for other countries. I know a friend of mine would love it!

Jaye said...

That is awesome.