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i no longer know what to make of gay pride
stupidfool
the wednesday before last, i had a long conversation with marie and jane about the pride rainbow. marie wanted to get me a rainbow bumper sticker for my car, and hang a gay pride flag in my window, when we moved in together. i told her that was dumb. i said that i didn't expect her to hang a flag in her window that said she sleeps with anything that breathes, so why should i have one that says i sleep with girls? jane agreed. we both think that being gay is fine, but it's only a part of who you are. the rainbow, we told marie, was overkill. it's good to be gay and not hide it, but there's no reason to show it off like that, like you think you're the greatest, just because you're gay...

then came friday. i'll talk about the rest of friday later, but here's the relevant part. marie had mindy's necklace, and it was a gay pride necklace. it wasn't one of those obvious ones, where the whole point of the necklace was to show off the rainbow. it had these nice, small, tan wooden beads, and there were just a few rainbows in between the nice wood beads. if the rainbow beads had all been some regular color, it's a necklace i probably would have bought for myself and worn. it was just my style.

marie told me that i had to wear this necklace, and i said no way, and i protested and whined and hit her and tried to fight her, but in the end, i gave in. she said i only had to wear it for 5 minutes, while i ran register, and after that time was up, as soon as i got a break in my line, i could take it off and give it back to her. i figured it wasn't the end of the world. i had enough friends here that nobody would try to beat me up for being gay, and how many people was i really going to encounter in the next 5 minutes, anyway? it would be no big deal.

i went to my register, and started helping customers. i felt like everybody was staring at that necklace. at first, i was trying to be a turtle, and holding my shoulders really high, and scrunching my head down, trying to hide the necklace. that got really uncomfortable, and people were looking at me funny, so i just stood normally... and then, something really strange happened. i started feeling like the old me...

see, back when i first started working at kroger, i really loved my job. i went into every day with unmatched enthusiasm, and a strong desire to be the most helpful, friendly, efficient, knowledgeable worker there. we got little roses for our name tags, if a customer gave the service desk a compliment about us, and my entire goal in life was to earn myself a large collection of roses. i wanted to be everybody's favorite bagger, and then cashier, when i got promoted. i wanted people to go home, and tell their family and friends, 'if you ever go to kroger, make sure you get in debbie's line. she's the best cashier they've got!'
that enthusiasm started to fade right around the time that christine got fired... now, i still like going to work, but i like it because of the people i work with. i still try to do my job efficiently, but only so that i have more time to goof off, or go home early. there are too many angry, rude, customers, and they've made me stop caring about all the customers, even the nice ones. i don't want to be helpful. i just want to get them out of my hair.

but now, wearing this pride necklace, i found myself smiling again... i was greeting customers like i meant it, and taking pride in my work again... and i still felt like they were all staring at my necklace... but it wasn't a bad thing any more. i felt like i could singlehandedly change their opinions of the entire gay population. before, they would have just seen me as a nice kid, but now, i was forcing them to see me as a nice gay kid. i was making them put 'nice' and 'gay' together. i felt like i was breaking down a million stereotypes. i felt like i was making them realize that not all gay girls look like boys, or that not all gay girls have 14 piercings and 21 tattoos, or that not all gay girls are dirty, or druggies, or punk rebels. and i imagined that the customer in my line was always a homophobic old man, and i pictured him going home to his wife and kids and saying thoughtfully, 'you know, the cashier at the store today was gay, but she clean-cut and well-dressed and friendly, and she was the best cashier i've ever had... maybe i've been wrong all these years... maybe gay people aren't that bad...'
and i knew that this was over-dramatic, and that i couldn't really completely change somebody's perception of gays, just by ringing up their groceries... but i really felt like i could make a difference. maybe i couldn't completely change their minds, but i could get them thinking... no matter what they thought of gays before they went through my line, i could always push them a little closer to tolerance... or accpetance... or love... i really felt like i could change things.

and then 5 minutes were up, and marie came and got the necklace back, telling me, 'see, it wasn't that bad...'

that feeling, is that what gay pride is all about? am i crazy? really, am i?

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I don't know the definition of gay pride really. i am sure it is up there with black pride and and pride held by a group of minorities. But from reading this I can say this to you, don't get in your head that you have to carry the weight of "gayness" on your shoulder. By that I mean your are D and your are Gay and whatever pride you hold is reflective of yourself and not the whole gay community. People who judge the gay community or any community by the stereotypes you listed aren't really just going to change their minds no matter how impressed they are with you. You will just become the exception to what they consider the rule.

In essence what I am saying, because I know how you are, do not start torturing yourself just to be an upstanding model for what the gay community is.

(ps the average non gay person has no clue what the hell a rainbow necklace means)

oh yeah go here

~jay~

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