Monday, April 12, 2010

Tshirt Pundits

What does gay pride mean to you? Do you see it as an expression of healthy respect for yourself and the way you were born into the world or as a flaunting of something private... that should have continued to remain private? I know I have my own specific answer to that question but, first some backround to why I ask it.

Today I ran across an article in Queerty in which the Teabaggers(*snicker* sorry...can't help it) are now selling "Straight Pride" Tshirts. The overall tone of the article suggests that these tshirts are a homo-bashing version of "white pride" style propaganda. This had queerty commenters and the heads of several large gay organizations all kinds of upset.


I have to admit, when I initially read this I got my knickers in a minor twist as well. This is because I know that their intent is not celebration of their position within the diversity of life...but rather as a mirror statement to our pride paraphanalia, with there statement being that they feel they are victims of the "homosexual agenda" and thus this is their "coming out"...ugh.../facepalm



I took my twisted knickers down to my husband to share the news...but what I got changed my view...a smidge:



I could see his point. Though the intent of the tshirt may not be pure of heart, why do we have to take offense at it?

For me...and me alone...I interperet gay pride as stepping out of the shadows imposed by society and living my life in the open because ...IT IS NOTHING TO BE ASHAMED OF. That is all. Its not elevating my sexuality as the most importand feature of my life, it is giving it its rightfull place within my lifes many facets. Waving rainbow flags on floats is not flaunting something that should be kept in the bedroom, it is celebrating and affirming that we are a part of the human family....which for centuries we have been made to feel as if we are not. Anyone living there life in that kind of shadow would rightfully celebrate after discovering they no longer have to live in it.

...and yes, sex is a part of that, since much of societies objections to us seem to revolve around that one facet of gayness...whether they will be honest about that or not. Straight people do not have to defend themselves on the basis of how they love...or how they make love, because the majority of society is like them. Even if religion shames it..the rest of society venerates hetero sex. No one applies the "ick factor" to it. Gay people can not be charged with flaunting sex when we are so readily singled out on its account.



Therefore, there is little reason for most straight people to feel as if they are singled out on that basis....and less reason to make a statement of "coming out". No one need come out as straight. No one gets kicked out of their house as a teenager for acknowledging their straightness. No one ever saw police raid straight bars and arrest all the patrons for dancing together and chain them to telephone poles until they could cart them downtown for booking....which DID happen to patrons of gaybars in the not-so-distant past. No one lobotomized a straight person because their sexual orientation was looked upon as a disease.

That is the shadow that gay men and women have lived and continue to live under, and why they fight back with statements of pride in who they are. I'm sorry to all my heterosexual readers, but I just don't think wearing a "straight pride" tshirt will ever carry that same meaning as a "gay pride" does.

But that does not mean that I am offended by that shirt. Everyone should feel pride in who they are. Everyone should feel as if they have a valued place in the spectrum of life...straight or gay...or as people of color...or any ethnic backround you can name...or any gender identity. Everyone has a right to celebrate who they are. To wear the shirt with THAT intent is a celebration of life in all its colors and forms...and a redemption of that tshirts original intent.

Unfortunatly, I don't think that was the intent in which it was produced. Being that it comes from the Teabaggers, who have set themselves up as the ultimate martyrs of patriotism, I believe this tshirt was meant to deliver a similar message of martyrdom. They often rail against the "gay agenda" in government. Apparently, they believe we pull  secret strings of power that they don't feel they have access to....again.../facepalm..



This shirt says to me that they are taking back "straightness" as a badge of pride in response to what they feel is disenfranchisement in government by an administration that they feel supports us more than them. And thats the major point here....where gay pride is meant as a statement of inclusiveness in the human family, this shirt makes the statement that they have to band together against us...us against them...sound familiar? Even the design of the shirt reflects the idea of  polarities in oposition to each other. The shirt is black and white, instead of the colors of the rainbow..or any color whatsoever. Intent or unconscious tell?

In closing, I would like to encourage my reader not to be offended by actions like these and I believe most of you will not. But I also encourage you to look inside yourself and ask what pride means to you regardless of what your proud of. If you can find something positive and life affirming in it...then own it. Where that shirt with the same fierceness and attitude of celebration that marks the spirit of gay pride. You are not less than the person next to you...but you are neither more important. You are a part of something bigger that includes us all and excludes none....life.

28 comments:

  1. I will agree with you on most points. But, I disagree with you on one.

    Being gay is the most important feature of my life for two reasons. Two very important reasons. It is how I love. And it is who I love.

    When I meet that guy that I am going to fight for and fight with, I will be in the most defining relationship of my life. Being gay, and being attracted to and falling in love with him, is the most defining characteristic in your life. That is why we come out. That is why we tell people who we love.

    It is why I felt this pride on the day that California gave marriage to the lgbt community. And it is why I was devastated when the voters took it away. And I don't live there.

    So, I understand that you don't scream it from the mountain tops and that you aren't screaming in the face of someone else about being gay every second of your life.

    But you do live it. You kids have two dads. And that is the most defining characteristic of your life.

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  2. well yeah, they are stupid. Let them be. I´m suprised that it´s written well at this moment.
    I was looking for a STRAIT PRAIDE shirt really.

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  3. Gay pride isn't really just about being proud of your sexuality to me. It's a statement to tell people that there is nothing wrong with you by being gay, despite what society says.

    "Straight pride" to me is really just the PC way of being homophobic similarly to how "white pride" is the PC way to be racist. If you go the KKK website they no longer call for the lynching of black people but rather say they have "white pride" and that each race was created as unique...an excuse they use to justify being against interracial relationships

    Straight people were never persecuted for being straight so they've had nothing to overcome AS straight people, nothing to be "proud" of really. Nobody ever says it's wrong to be straight so they have no need to declare that there isn't.

    People who say "if gays get pride why can't us straights?!" don't seem to understand what gay pride actually means, and just want to be included because of an entitlement complex and little else

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  4. the reason why I say that being gay is not THE most important thing in my life is because I am also alot of other things that do not hinge on my being gay one bit. I am a rabid...and I mean frothing at the mouth rabid...star wars fan. to some thats a trivial thing but it has helped shape the direction my life has taken and contributed to my personality in numerous ways

    Not only and I a husband and a father but I am also a son/brother/grandson...and I can be that gay or straight.

    I am spiritual in ways that I don't see my sexuality impacting.

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  5. I fully endorse the creation of any shirt that announces its wearer is a close-minded bigot. It saves me the trouble of getting to know them.

    I only hope paraphernalia like this helps to marginalize their cause. General public, please don't let me down.

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  6. BUT...my sexuality is also a treasure to me. When I was not allowed to live it, I had no idea what I was missing. Then, when I allowed myself to be fully myself it was like seeing in color after only knowing black and white.

    My sexuality is something I value. something I am gratefull for. If reincarnation is true..than I would deffinitely come back gay again....but I can not in good conscience claim that it is the most important part of me.

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  7. Wow problems posting comments here too.. (just my luck). Anyway, I just wanted to say that I agree with what you expressed through your blog and if these people are gonna use that shirt to put down gay/lesbian people that is just silly and immature.

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  8. I didn't mean to offend. I just feel the way I love is the most important part of me.

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  9. Proud my bio child is mine

    or how's this one

    Proud I'm married not perverted.

    Jay is kind of in need of guidance, and when I watch your youtube vids I kind of rest easy that he is with you, Bryan. The guy is full of reactions, not very thoughtful and feels the need to provoke before the need to nurture. Type A, for sure. I couldn't stand it, I'd be such a scold in your shoes. Half cocked and full of "confidence" spells disaster for the others in our lives, gay or straight. THese t'shirts are meant to provoke too. So what if you see through it, many, like insecure closeted teenagers, won't. Still happy with full out assault against us being legitimized? well, you only have your own "cleverness" to blame.

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  10. I totally agree. Everyday is "straight pride day" to them! We only have it for one month!

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  11. Hey Ervs....you didn't offend. thats just my two cents. I know not everyone feels the way I do about it.

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  12. @ the commentor who feels that Jay is in need of guidance....I think you need to check your own cleverness. What Jay helped me see, is that we can diffuse them by acknowledging the kernal of truth hidden within their mountain of bullshit. The way we respond can either validate the teabaggers pathetic attempt to recategorize themselves as the victims...or we can steal their thunder by acknowledging our support for our straight friends and families. The Tbaggers do not own the history of discrimination to legitimize their claims of victimhood. So we can get our panties in a bunch and give them more fuel for the fires of martyrdom or we can say "you know what? I love the awesome straight people around me", and make the Tbaggers all look like asses.

    You are correct that the teabaggers did this with bad intentions but I think those intentions are less a direct attack on the gay community so much as an attempt to say "poor me. I'm a disenfranchised straight person. Give me a shirt so I can feel like I'm making a witty statement about that."

    so please don't attack my husband as if he is mentally incapable of working out all that you put forth. He just doesn't agree with you. Jay is one of the smartest people I know and often comes up with perspectives that I would not have come to myself. He guides me as much as I him.

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  13. Once again, Bryan, You show me why I love you so much. On this one page you probably showed 4 different sides to this argument. I should make a "Straight Pride" shirt for myself (a "Bi-Pride" would give my little husband a heart attack, so I will leave that alone...)
    I'd have to put as many reasons as I could possibly think of as reasons that I support my gay friends and why my life is richer and just more down right colorful because of each and every one.
    The Teabaggers need to go snorkel someone.

    Your "Little" Friend with many names

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  14. Great entry. I've thought about this issue before when it came to "white pride". Much like "straight pride" there is definitely something offensive about it because it's almost like comparing the 2 very different situations of pride for one's majority heritage versus pride in a disenfranchised and normatively marginalized heritage like being an ethnic minority with a past (or even present) of being enslaved, discriminated against, and ostracized for who one is fundamentally at the core. The whole purpose that a lot of ethnic minorities and gay folk even came up with "X pride" was because it was in reaction to an oppressive majority culture that implied or clearly expressed that they were of lower worth. X pride was a way of:
    (1) Expressing solidarity between one's other oppressed counterparts and
    (2) Feel a sense of confidence in one's demographic despite it being in the minority or considered "lesser than" in society (i.e. feeling proud of oneself for coming out of the closet and owning their sexuality; being proud of one's Hispanic/African/etc. heritage)

    With that said, I've thought of this issue in the past when dealing with white pride folk. Much like these straight pride individuals, there are people in the majority who feel like they are the true victims at times and feel that a counter racism goes on. An example would be affirmative action. There were people who felt that it was essentially a racism against whites because it gave certain minority groups advantages when it came to getting jobs or getting accepted into colleges. I think the issue is tough and complicated because something like affirmative action is the byproduct or reaction to previous racism.

    If you look at the issue from a narrow POV, then yes affirmative action is racist in that it gives certain people advantages in jobs/school simply because of who they are.
    This is where the counter-racist claim comes from and certain individuals are outraged. If this were all we are looking at, then I would agree that this is unnecessary and unfair discrimination against a majority group. From a larger holistic POV though, affirmative action's purpose was an attempt to promote diversity in certain fields because it wasn't happening naturally or enough due to historical and political social forces. One can't just erase a history of subjugation, discrimination, and marginalization and then look at public policy from an individualistic point of view. With occupational glass ceilings, ghettoized homes due to the white flight into suburbia, the impact of cultural values from the blows of segregation/slavery/etc. to expect a minority group to compete on the same level as a privileged majority group is unrealistic.

    So it's a tough issue because in this case, a solution to historical racism was probably necessarily discriminatory, but understandably people who are into promoting political policies in their self interest instead of trying to be fair and objective or look out for all of society is to be expected. At the time the debates were going on I was trying to apply for college myself so I can understand. Why should my chances be reduced even though I'm working hard and studying while somebody else could be much lazier but get more points than me on the basis of being born into a certain ethnic group? However I understand the flip side that diversity is in fact needed and what other solution is there to helping expose different groups of people to each other and giving traditionally marginalized communities more opportunities in career/education so that they can create leaders who can help break the positive feedback loop of self-marginalization in their own neighborhoods. It's just one of those tough life issues that has no clear answer and where no solution is perfect.

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  15. Sorry I know I went off on a tangent but the point was that I see the same thing going on here. Where I think everybody should be allowed to take pride in facets of themselves (majority or minority). If somebody wants to take pride in their whiteness what else can you say? "Pride" is the operative word. At the same time, minority groups usually have a specific reason why they do X pride so on a comparative level it's naturally and understandably frustrating to have that struggle implicitly compared to a non-struggle of a majority group who's reacting to the minority group. There is a certain minimizing of a minority struggle going on whether on purpose or not. And in this case, based on the group that came up with the idea, it's probably the former.

    So how does one react? It's tough and I don't have the answer. This is a clever political attack no doubt because it's positing an already powerful majority group into victims when it's the furthest thing from the truth. At the same time, you can't really attack "Straight Pride" because the term itself is technically harmless because can't somebody be proud for being straight? I look at it like the institution of religion. You can't fault the religion you can only be upset with those using the vehicle for their own purposes. Which makes the political maneuver all the more insidious.

    Not sure if it's better to ignore and take the high road approach with the straight pride t-shirts or get upset and say something about the issue because make no mistake it's a brilliant and sneaky strategic tactic. I don't think attacking the t-shirts will accomplish much and if anything giving them attention and the controversy will be free marketing for their bigotry and probably result in them making more money from t-shirt sales. At the same time, the subject needs to be discussed and commented on because it's yet another political power play positioning move from an already privileged majority group.

    The main way for teh gays to reach an acceptable level of political integration in mainstream society is ultimately going to depend on getting a large segment of the population to understand that we are in fact a disadvantaged minority group that has been marginalized and is in fact a 2nd class citizenship. Ultimately what we are asking for is a degree of equality. The more they paint us as already equal or worse advantaged, the less our chances of achieving our ideal. Generally (i know this is simplistic and the issue is more complex) you can categorize people in 2 groups of ethnics: Those who care about fairness/equality/people being on and equal footing and those who don't. The political opponents that teh gays face is the latter group. Appeals to equality and fairness mean nothing to these individuals. They will appeal to other people though. So it's essentially a war of communication between us and those individuals to get the open-minded fair-thinking group on their side. Society has thankfully been changing but so far, the majority is on their side.

    The t-shirt move is strong because it builds a bond and a sense of solidarity between the straight supremacists and more open-minded straights that we can't touch while also reinforcing the fact that we are "the other". We're different. We're not like them and don't have that particular bond with them. To those who value difference and diversity it won't matter, but for the impressionable who are swayed by similarities and wanting to be accepted by a group, this is a clever way of freezing us out but in an underhanded and sneaky way.

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  16. Man, I cannot see Jay's side to this argument at all. It is just another attempt at putting down gays -- period. I'm not saying that we ought to rip off the shirts of someone who is wearing one, but I don't see it as benign in any sense. I don't think there is a higher road to be taken here.

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  17. From my point of view... yes, this T-shirt could be seen as offensive, because it misses the same point that so many people do - gay pride is not about 'flaunting' your sexuality of getting 'special rights', its about not being ashamed anymore, and about equal rights.

    But my major reaction is how pathetic! Really? A t-shirt? You're so desperate that you need to wear a t-shirt proclaiming your heterosexuality.

    So I say let them wear their silly tshirts. Yes, they're a symptom of a much bigger problem, but its the problem everyone needs to get upset about instead.

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  18. This is a bit "off of the premise" of this blog but I was thinking about t-shirts that I have seen in my life. When I first came out in '91 there were a lot of t-shirts available for the gay community. I still remember one that I saw in a gay book store in Cleveland. It said, "SORRY MOM-NO GRANDKIDS." Looking back at those times and now looking at your family Bryan-you have proved that t-shirt WRONG!!! Good for you!! ;-)
    Jim

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  19. I really don't get the point of the shirt, other then to be childishly petty in their opposition to every thing gay. I mean really they need a shirt to let people know they are straight, and proud of it? I mean they are like 90% of the population what is so hard about that? They are the ones that are the "normal" and in control, so how hard is it to be straight? Let alone what obstacles have their straightness caused them that they have to be so proud for standing up and overcoming? Its a petty we don't like gays and we don't like they they have pride so we want it to, maybe some of shirts and comedians making fun of their "straight pride" shirts will help to shun them into some actual thought on what they are saying.

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  20. All I have to say is Bryan you are a great blogger and Jay is a great vlogger! You both have opened my eyes to things that I would have never, ever seen and opened my ears to things I would have never heard. You two are true hero's to me. I am so glad that you both have one another because you two just fit together so well to me. I am so proud to be able to call you two my friends. Just keep up the great work that you both do.
    Sincerely thanking you!
    Take care buddy!

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  21. i found this, and i thought i would share this with you. =]

    i think it was written very well. it also makes you think.

    http://deadmanscrescendo.deviantart.com/art/I-m-coming-out-I-m-straight-98898676

    i still think that their intent was malicious. but hey what can i do.

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  22. The word Queer was malevolent at one time. So was Fagot. Pansy. Fruit. Light in the loafers.

    We took those words are reused them. I am queer. I am a fag. etc. etc. etc. We made them ours. We took their power away from them.

    If we wanted to, we could take the word Straight away too. Words are nothing without meaning. My grandmother to this day in her nineties says gay to mean happy. She refused to give it up. Even though the rest of the word refused to use it for any meaning except for the homosexuals. Because the word had no other meaning for her.

    Straight can be gay if we wanted it to.

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  23. i say let 'em wear the t-shirt. If anyone wore it outside of a tea party, most people would just roll their eyes. The types of people who want these shirts already make fun of homosexuals, so they are just broadcasting their ignorance. Personally, I think it's pretty funny, especially since the figures remind me of a restroom door. While there are many things that LGBTs need to fight against, a lame tshirt is one of the lesser evils IMHO.
    But I see some serious parodies on the horizon.:)
    Take care.

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  24. Christians are stupid.

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  25. Does your sexuality define who you are? Rather, do you define who you are by your sexuality? I'm straight and came across this site because I googled "facepalm". I like to think I'm not homophobic, but I'm surprised by those who wear "gay and proud" tshirts etc. I've had gay friends, I have gay relatives, but I've never considered myself gay. I've also never felt the need to wear a "I love boobs" or any other tshirt delaring my sexuality. I understand why a "Straight Pride" t shirt is stupid, as straight sex has never been illegal. I do wonder why people would define themselves by their sexual preference however.

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  26. Well, while I understand that the straight pride shirt can mean several things, not all of them bad, that doesn't negate the fact that they are being sold by the Tea Party.
    The USA is a country where money most definitely talks, and in my opinion, a supporter of gay rights should not be giving money to anti-gay political movements.
    The Tea Party isn't going to donate the proceeds from these shirts to the Trevor project, they're going to use the money to campaign against our rights. If you're going to buy a straight pride shirt, make sure you don't buy it from a homophobe.

    On another note, gotta love how anti-gay people keep complaining about how hard it is to be anti-gay, and how gay people have it so good. Yup, it's reeeeal fun being oppressed.

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  27. In response to the anonymous poster two comments above me, I would like to explain why some people would wear gay pride t-shirts, or define themselves partially by their sexuality.

    In our society today, averyone is initially assumed to be straight. Therefore, gay people often assume that they too are straight early in life. They have to come to terms with their sexual orientation, and endure a great deal of intolerance if they are percieved to not be straight.
    Society places a great deal of shame on the shoulders of the LGBT community, particularly on LGBT youth. Same-sex couples are rarely shown in popular media, the topic is often taboo, especially with younger audiences, it is treated as a sexual issue and thus one inappropriate for children, and politicians openly deny our rights on TV with no media uproar.
    As such, when people come to terms with being LGBT, it is natural that they would want to avoid feeling ashamed of who they are for the rest of their life, so they decide to be proud.
    Pride is also a common LGBT term to refer to the LGBT movement to support equal rights, and is as such a popular word for those in favor of LGBT rights.
    One more note - the gay pride movement helps show the number of gay people in society. If we were quiet anout it and kept it to ourselves, gay youth would think that they were alone in the world. Showing just how many of us there are helps show others that they are not alone.

    Until society reaches a point where being gay is not considered any different from being straight, the very process of accepting oneself and becoming comfortable with one's sexuality will be a challenging and transformative experience.
    For me at least, gay pride represents the fact that I went through the difficult experience of accepting myself and coming out, and that I have changed for the better because of it. It means that I am proud of who I am, that I am not going to let people ignore the existence of people like me, and that I reject the idea that being gay is something to be ashamed of.

    I define myself by many things, but I think that my sexual orientation has a place on that list. To disregard that part of myself as unimportant would be allowing my rights to continue being silently denied. If I'm going to be discriminated against by the laws of my own country, I don't intend to do it quietly.

    In summary, in an ideal world, gay pride would be as unecessary as straight pride is. Our world is not ideal. When gay people commit suicide in the "Land of the Free" because of homophobia, there is work that needs to be done. Personally, I don't feel like being demure and polite about getting the rights I'm supposed to be given in this country. And quite frankly, the process that led to coming out was really hard for me. I'm genuinely proud that I managed to get through it. It's ok to be proud of being who you are, especially when the rest of the world makes it so hard to do so.

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  28. Thanks for a wonderful share. Your article has proved your hard work and experience you have got in this field. Brilliant .i love it reading. lgbt,

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