A straight New Zealand man found himself the target of a homophobic prank when he picked up his suitcase from baggage check after traveling from Perth, covered with stickers spelling out “I am gay.”
Aaron, a stay-at-home dad, posted a pic of his vandalized luggage on Twitter:
— Sleepysaurus Rex! (@aaronpp) October 13, 2013
Aaron’s airline, Jetstar, immediately issued an apology, and when one Tweeter urged heads to roll at the company, Aaron argued that he’d “rather have broad consciousness raising over job losses.” While Jetstar has launched an investigtion over the incident, the photo and Aaron’s story have quickly made the rounds on the interwebs.
To address the subsequent brouhaha, Aaron took to his blog, One Sleepy Dad, where he discussed the lesson in empathy he had learned:
As I dragged the case through the terminal, I looked back at the people I had passed and they too looked at me differently. My luggage was a scarlet letter.
I am a white heterosexual male. This trifecta of privilege means that I’m not routinely subjected to prejudice. But for a few minutes I got to walk in the shoes of a gay person in a public place. For no good reason I had had a slur marked over my luggage. I was degraded. I was shamed. I was humiliated.
For me, this was only a few minutes of one day of my life. If what I felt for those few minutes is extrapolated out every day over a lifetime, then I can fully understand why our gay friends feel persecuted and why they have such high rates of suicide. It is unacceptable.
It is said that words can’t hurt you. That it is true. But it isn’t the words that hurt, it’s the intention behind them. “I am gay” was not emblazened [sic] across my luggage as a celebration. It was used as a pejorative. It was used to humiliate. It was used as a slur.
Some people have been commenting that it’s probably just some loser in backrooms making a distasteful joke. Or that Jetstar has a culture of homophobia. Unfortunately, the mistreatment of our gay friends spans society. It goes all the way up to our political leaders and includes such luminaries as our Prime Minister. Our laws ensure that homosexuals are not afforded the same rights and dignities that many of us straight people take for granted every day.
Until our political/religious/community leaders acknowledge and address these inequalities, until we de-normalise prejudice, we can’t expect the “losers” to follow.
Further proving that homophobia does not, ironically, discriminate, a heterosexual Canadian man was brutally attacked for apparently seeming gay — the second time he’s been gay bashed. Remarking on his ordeal, Kerry Tyler Street also gained some serious perspective on the dangers still facing the LGBT community.
“When people try to say that like, ‘Oh gay people aren’t discriminated against,’ it’s like that’s definitely a bunch of shit,” Street said. “Like, because he thought that I might potentially like guys, he thought that was a good enough reason to leave me bleeding in the middle of the street.”
h/t: Gay Star News