Friday, May 27, 2011

June Pride Month Challenge: 30 Days Of Gay T-Shirts!

So I've blogged before about wearing my "Legalize Gay" T-shirt, and I've been thinking about this for a while.

Four things have led me to this idea:

1) My discussions with Benji about the concept of "passing privilege,"

2) My discussions with a new African American and Gay friend who takes issue with comparisons of the Gay Rights struggle to the Civil Rights Movement.

3) My watching the recent Aimee Mullins Opportunity of Adversity TED Talk video where I didn't know what her disability was for the first few minutes of watching it and how I was struggling with that, my desire to "categorize" her feeling like a betrayal...


4) My habitual moment of hesitation when I grab my "Legalize Gay" t-shirt from it's spot in the drawer. A moment when I think about where I'm going and what I'll be doing... and if wearing the shirt is going to be challenging or difficult, or not.

It's all coalesced to make me realize that I'm not even aware of how often I'm 'passing' as straight. 'Passing' as a member of the majority.

If your skin is dark, or if you're a member of a minority where you can't 'pass' as white, your experience of going through our world must be very different than mine. So I decided I want to do something to gain more insight into being a visible minority and be more real and upfront about my being gay.

So here's the challenge I'm going to undertake:

For the month of June, every day I'll wear a T-shirt that explicitly supports gay rights and/or says that I'm gay.

I'll be wearing my blog T-shirts that proclaim: "I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell do I Read?"

I'll be wearing my "Legalize Gay" T-shirt.

I'll be wearing my "It Gets Better" T-shirt.

I'll be wearing my "It's Okay To Be Takei" T-shirt.

I'll be wearing my "Smile If You're Gay" T-shirt.

...and I'll be looking for others to wear, too!

I'm excited to take this challenge, and wanted to share it with you. And please, if anyone wants to join me, I'll be happy to hear about (and share on this blog) your experience, too!



HumanDuctTape said...

I think it's really awesome that you're doing this! I know exactly what you mean about "passing"; it's really weird sometimes how desperate people are to assume that you're straight, even if, say, you have a nontypical gender expression.

I think your comment about how passing privilege can't be applied to race brings up an interesting set of issues. The thing is, I am half-Chinese half-German, which is a lot more confusing to some people than it needs to be. Because I am obviously not white, but I am not obviously Asian, a lot of the time people don't know what to make of me. Especially here in Germany, I've gotten a lot of double takes when people see my last name, which is very German. (Though it also happens to be the same name as a fairly well known German talk show host, so maybe I'm misreading this...)

Anyway, I often have a similar experience "outing" as Asian as I do "outing" as lesbian. Which often leads to Asian jokes or comments such as "I was wondering what you were," as though my ethnic heritage is the sum of "what" I am. There is also a sense of relief, as though not knowing what box to stereotype me in causes some sort of anxiety.

In fact, I think wearing a pro-gay t-shirt is very similar to this situation. People will see it and wonder "Is he gay, or does he just support them? I don't know, I'm so confused, I don't know what to do!"

To conclude, it's just kind of ridiculous how uncomfortable it makes people when they can't assume your race or sexual orientation, or gender (I could throw in a comment here about how I get mistaken for a boy at least once a year, even though I don't think I look quite that masculine). I guess some people are just obsessed with their labels; even though really, a label tells you nothing.

Example A: Three Asian students sitting next to each other in the front of the classroom. (Cue Asian academic overachiever stereotype - in fact, I'm just there because I would fall asleep if I sat in the back). One you could do a palette swap and get your "normal" American. One is a first-generation Hmong immigrant. One is an exchange student from Malaysia. What do these three have in common, besides the fact they happen to be sitting next to each other? Which is why the Asian comments on Glee bug me so much, but that is a rant for another time.

Unknown said...

You'll have to go shopping on Monday - it was just announced that OLD NAVY (of all places!) will have a few gay-themed shirts for "Pride 2011" - which people are hoping implies they're planning on making this an annual release, like their famous flag T-shirts. From what I saw online, there's a rainbow flag version on a few different colored shirts, and then a quite fetching 'Love Proudly' in a rainbow of colors.

Kaplan said...

blue is beautiful, i love it and the print is cool

Lee Wind, M.Ed. said...

Thanks Kaplan and everyone for your encouraging comments so far!

HumanDuctTape, I hear you - there IS a sense of discomfort I see when people can't categorize someone else. In fact, I wonder if it's the same way I felt watching that great Aimee Mullins Opportunity of Adversity TED talk ( when I didn't know WHAT her disability was - and how much my own discomfort about that, well, discomforted me! I'm excited about this 30 Days of Gay T-shirts challenge and what I might learn from it.

And Angela, YES, I saw that news item and will absolutely go shopping at OLD NAVY for the two gay pride T-shirts! YAY!

Thanks again, all, and Namaste,

T said...

This is such a cool idea Lee! I hope you don't get many cold receptions from ppl on account of your clothes. I remember in my college GSA for a fundraiser we sold colorful t-shirts with the phrase "Gay? Fine by me!" emblazoned on the chest. They were a huge hit, but I found it really surprising how many people felt the need to say "I'm not gay! But can I buy that shirt in a medium..." Like the disclaimer was really neccesary. Like we were going to pounce on them if they were! Oh well... I'm looking forward to reading how your proud month of gay t-shirts goes!

Anonymous said...

This sounds like an interesting challenge, and the upside is, no laundry for a month!

Lee- If you want to be extra inclusive and supportive you can also get yourself a
Legalize Trans* shirt.

Anonymous said...

I don't think I'll be able to do every day since I don't currently own a Pride t- shirt, but I will wear one at least once this month. I don't know where to get one, but I think I hear spray paint calling my name...

Lee Wind, M.Ed. said...

Tess, I love that slogan, "Gay? Fine by me."

And Neutrois, I'll look for that Legalize Trans* shirt! Absolutely wanna support the Trans and Gender Non-conforming community, too!

Anonymous May 27, 2011 4:47 pm, check out two new pride shirts from Old Navy, but home-made shirts rock, too!

Thanks all for your kind words, and have a great weekend!

Avi de Turenne said...

I'm afraid to wear my turquoise LEGALIZE GAY t-shirt at the schmooze in case we end up twinsies. Maybe I'll go Old School with PFLAG's LEGALIZE GAY MARRIAGE.

Kristin said...

oooohhhh. I want the " 'Love Proudly' in a rainbow of colors" tshirt. does anyone have a link where I can aquire it?

Lee Wind, M.Ed. said...

Avi, go ahead and wear what you want - no fear!

Kristin, I thought the shirts would be in all Old Navy stores, but it looks like it's just in 29 of them... and I couldn't find it online. Hopefully we can get some!

Namaste and thanks to all!

(Oh, I just posted on facebook and twitter day #1 photo of me in my "Smile If You're Gay" T-shirt. Follow me/friend me to see!)

Anonymous said...

This is a great thing to do. As I said over on my blog, ( I'm not sure I'd think you were gay because of your t-shirt (although the days you wear the "It's okay to be Takei" I'd probably assume you were a Star Trek fan).

I guess for me it comes down to a question of who needs to know certain information, and why so many of us feel so compelled to label others (and ourselves) according to sexuality, race, politics, as if those things somehow give us the sum-total of a person.

I will be interested to see how the challenge goes.

Jason ReBegin said...

A really cute, clever, and meaningful challenge Lee! Way to "wear" the walk! Happy LA Pride week to you.

Lee Wind, M.Ed. said...

Busted Tees wrote to share their coupon and deals page link: coupon & deals page: http://Verified.Codes/Busted-Tees
Thought I'd share.