Monday, August 07, 2006

But You're Not a Cheerleader!

When I was in Middle School or High School, some of my good friends were cheerleaders. Part of their outfit included these super cute (I thought at the time) shoes that looked like this:
Those little triangles, well, they're these little plastic pockets. You can slide out the color panels and replace them with a rainbow of other slides to match your school's colors or in my case I dreamed of coordinating them to my outfits!

I never, never, never mentioned my desire to wear these shoes to anyone! Can you imagine the reaction to a BOY wanting to wear "GIRL" shoes - and cheerleading shoes! OMG, what are you? GAY?! Instead, I kept quiet and learned to build resentments toward the cheerleaders - and just about anyone and everything else that contributed to the "system" that oppressed me and kept me from those cute shoes.

The following is from 10 Smart Things Gay Men Can Do to Improve Their Lives by Joe Kort (with some editing):
There is a social journey that we all take to develop our sense of self. We're born with most of our thinking, feeling, and sensory functions intact. In a healthy family, parents send messages that it's ok to be you, to experience all of your body senses, to have feelings and express them, to solve problems, to be assertive. But that's not always what happens. Instead we often get conflicting messages.

The messages we accept - or choose to obey - help to determine our place in the family we grow up in - even the culture we live in. ...[People] develop a "fugitive self" (that wears cheerleading shoes!) that goes underground. [Even heterosexuals have to hide/conform.] Because we want our caretakers to return our love, we decide to lose potentially troubling aspects of ourselves (cheerleading shoes) and pretend that they aren't there. Of course, they're not really gone for good, but they're out of conscious scrutiny. ...Gay men's core sexual identity gets buried along with any other "unacceptable" and "unfashionable" traits.
Gay Pride events are important because it really is one way for the gay community to counter the homophobia and heterosexism that has been drummed into us. It's a time where we can create a space in the public sphere where we can wear our "gay" cheerleading shoes - and laugh in the face of the naysayers - because we're supported by our partners, friends, family, and children. We really do stand up and say, "We don't agree! Boys wearing cheerleading shoes is A-OK!" In this way, gay pride helps everyone live a more honest life - it causes society to examine what really is important and to have dialog about why we do what we do. And that's a good thing.

2 Comments:

At 8/08/2006 7:23 PM, Blogger Sam said...

I HAD THEM!!!!

Well, not cheerleading shoes, per se, but I had sneakers with colored plastic swatches that fit into pockets on the sides. Yes, Honey! They were men's shoes! The were by Converse. I think they were tennis shoes, but I suppose they could've been cheerleading shoes for men. I doubt it though! My father, the homophobe from hell, would not have bought anything like that for men! This was in the early 80's. We sold them in our clothing store in a podunk little town: Graham, NC, USA.

I'm so gay!

 
At 8/10/2006 5:26 PM, Blogger Jennifer said...

I had these too John! But maybe this will make you feel better. The little plastic things would sometimes fall out and of course you wouldn't know it. So you thought you were walking around looking cool but then hours later you would realize that you were looking retarded with one of the plastic things missing. :)

 

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