Sunday, November 28, 2010

Just a shirt

"We're seeing things in a different way. And God knows it ain't His."

My friend was recently given a shirt that said, "Gay? Fine by me." Now, at first, that seemed like a funny, progressive thing to put on a t-shirt. But on further inspection, my very wise friend felt as though it shouldn't matter whether or not someone else being gay was "fine by her" and she was right.

What the hell does it matter what she, or I, or some 50 year old man from Virginia think about another person's love life? Is it not presumptuous of us to alert people to the fact that we're okay (or, for that matter, NOT okay) with who they love or take to prom or make out with in the movie theater*?

Of course I understand that it's just a t-shirt. And a piece of clothing can't be held responsible for the obstacles that gay people in America face**. But that t-shirt is contributing to the message that our culture sends gays: that they need approval to pursue a fulfilling, loving life. That other people's opinions about them must, therefore, affect their ability to pursue a life that every human being deserves.

Because, at the moment, other people's opinions do matter and they do affect those lives. Old, white, heterosexual (or closeted homosexual) men are working around the clock to ensure that their "t-shirts" say: "Gay? Not fine with me!" And their t-shirts come with legislation that prevents deserving American citizens from adopting children, marrying, serving their country or even having sex.

Around the world, anyone who is born gay*** is sent messages of hate and oppression at every turn. Even those lucky enough to find an accepting, loving group of friends and/or family are bombarded with negative societal input. Whether it's a t-shirt, a facebook status, or an offhand comment in a film, the media provides a steady stream of subtle gay-bashing that needs to be addressed at a national level. Any individual attempt to neutralize the ingrained hatred and prejudice will continue to be undermined until national media outlets pledge to make a change.

What's hardest for me to deal with is that it isn't just homosexuals who are victims to this hardwired cultural mindset. It's minorities, women, disabled people, mentally ill, and anyone who falls outside the arbitrarily defined American ideal. How do I try and fix one leak when the boat is flooded?

I can't. But I can speak up when I see prejudice. And I can bitch about it on this blog. And I can share with you a few other blogs and sites that are doing their part.

Sociological Images

Sexuality and Society

This Week in Blackness

A Fruit 4 Thought

*Can you imagine if someone marched up and said, "straight? Fine. As you were." You would think they were nuts. Or on drugs. Or an opinionated college student. Or all three!
**But a piece of clothing can be responsible for the obstacles I face in the morning. I'm looking at you, inside out tights.
***setting aside the argument that being gay is a choice, because that is, of course, stupid.

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