Troy N. Diggs
February 15, 1998
I had a lot I wanted to write about this month. My first draft of this column talked about Monica Lewinsky and her...uhh..... charm. Then, I wanted to write about the argument I got into with a friend of mine last night, which has got me so depressed I'm playing Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" over and over again. Finally, I wanted to write about "Titanic", because damn it, what gay guy doesn't like Leonardo DiCaprio? (BTW, go to your local video store, rent "Total Eclipse", and tell me that he's not gay.)
Instead, I wanted to talk about gay pride. Yesterday, I was at work, and a guy came in with his partner, which is OK. They've been in the store before. The problem is that this guy always comes in wearing a cap with every conceivable gay pin, button, sticker, and attachment on it. He was a one-man pride march.
I have no problems with pride; hell, I'm involved in it myself. On a cosmetic level, that means rainbow stickers on the truck, a rainbow necklace as soon as I can figure out where I put it or when I get back to Meristem in Memphis, and a rainbow keychain. That's no problem.
However... this is an area where the KKK have adopted a stretch of highway not more than 20 miles south of here (for those familiar with the area, it's in the middle of Marked Tree going down US 63). To me, it's OK to be proud, as long as those who don't quite agree with the lifestyle think that the rainbow means you like different colors.
Simply put, if you're somewhere where it's not acceptable, then don't broadcast it! The best situation is that you'll get unfairly stereotyped as a "fag". At worst, you might get the living shit kicked out of you. The people out there that can hurt you are generally those that have the IQ of Bob Saget. No, wait, that's an insult to them. The point is, if you can be proud and fool the assholes, go for it. If you make it blatantly obvious, you might as well be wearing a T-shirt saying "I'm gay" on the front and a target on the back.
I've seen the T's advertised and displayed with "2QT2BSTR8" and other miscellaneous lines, and I'd love to be able to wear them when I go to class and such, but I can't. Hell, I get nervous going into the G/L section at Hastings because Jonesboro may not be a really small town, but I'd rather not take any chances.
That doesn't mean living in fear all your life, nor does it mean being so paranoid that you can't be yourself. That also doesn't mean it's a bad thing to be out and proud. It means taking a little caution when it's appropriate. If you really really want, and you live in a place/go to places where you can get away with it, then by all means, be fucking proud. We deserve it. But, if you don't, and this is really just a little common sense, don't push it. After all, I'd rather you be safe and alive to read next month's column than become a bad statistic.