Monday, 18 June 2012

How the message on this T-shirt makes me feel.

- By Kazza K

Just recently this photo hit my FB page on two separate occasions. The first time I saw it I had an immediate dislike at a visceral or gut-feel level, the actual person posting it thought it was very clever. I didn't comment, I thought  "why rain on someone else's parade" and, basically, I get it -Brokeback Mountain, seminal, mainstream, LGBT  movie, let's have a bit of fun. Then it popped up again this week, through a gay social media site on my FB page, and I experienced the same reaction - I didn't like it, but most comments were positive, people thought it was "funny, cool, awesome, I love Jake Gyllenhaal even more now" and so on. I really wanted to have my say when I noticed a young lady by the name of Terese posted the following - "I might be taking this too personally but I really don't like what that shirt is implying... my own mother thinks that I'm only gay because it is 'cool'. Not a fan of this picture :/" I 'liked' her comment, I really got her POV.

It actually reminded me of a fairly recent interview of Chelsea Handler with Adam Lambert. I watched it because, truth be known, I love his voice, and she stated – “So your gay” which he acknowledged, and that he has a partner now etc. and then she proceeded to say “it’s cool being gay now, right?” I can't remember all of it but she reiterated the fact that it's "cool being gay" again. Adam Lambert let out an uncomfortable half- laugh, was diplomatic but adopted a kind of awkward body language and a ‘you’re kidding me’ look for just a split second,  he didn’t answer the question, she moved on after a moment, but it was a stupid, uncomfortable and flippant question. Let me answer. Yes, Chelsea, it’s always "cool" to be a minority. One that has to be mindful of being bashed when out, has limited legal partner rights, finds it difficult to adopt, has to deal with gay panic laws, has to be in the closet in certain professions, and is currently copping heaps of pressure from right wing bigots in opposition to having the ‘audacity’ to ask for marriage equality. I know there have been some inroads made, but, still it's 2012 and in some parts of the world being gay is a death sentence. "Cool?!"

Which takes me into therapist mode. I've counselled more than a few gay, lesbian and bi clients in my practice over the years, and amongst those 'few' are teenagers. Being a teenager is hard at the best of times, raging hormones, half way between being a child and an adult, expectations, you get my drift. LGBT teens can have some other things to deal with 1) there are the parents who think that their child is going through a "phase" or, more recently, they're trying to be "cool" (as Terese pointed out in her comment) because it's like being emo or eating pizza, they see it as a choice, that their child is somehow trying to fit in, or they're 'seeking attention', that one gets thrown out there a lot. Plus 2) there is often a ton of crap coming your way from peers, family and school, let alone realising you are not what mum, dad, other family members and society says you should be - thinking about/dating boys, if you're a girl, thinking about/dating girls, if you're a boy. I'm not going to speak for everyone, but many within the LGBT community go through a period of self-loathing and confusion for not fitting into society's "norm." If they're lucky they have a decent family to support them through it, or, perhaps, if necessary, good counselling and/or groups where they can meet other LGBT members and feel comfortable and safe.

Anyway, back to the photo, which I believe is well and truly photo-shopped, by the way, but, no matter, the point remains the same from my perspective, I'm with Terese, I don't like it. I believe it sends out the '"cool" or "lifestyle choice" message and I don't and won't ever support that. Am I being narky? I'm sure it's meant to be fun, but it hit a raw nerve with me.

Feel free to add your honest thoughts if you wish, but keep it reasoned and sensible.

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