Straight Man Walks A Mile In Gay Shoes After Homophobic Airport Prank

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:

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

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  • Triple S

    The same rights and dignities are enjoyed by gay people in Australia. The only inconsistency is marriage. Other than that, covered in equal measure to straight people. PM Abbott has nothing against gay people, he has a lesbian for a sister! He just doesn’t do marriage, which is annoying, sure, but there is far more to the legal position of gay people in our laws as well as the social attitude than just who allows gay marriage and who doesn’t

  • smitz

    “In New Zealand”? Did you even read the story?

  • marc sfe

    @smitz: And dd you not study Triple’s comment? His comment is correct as New Zealand as marriage and Australia does not. He was making a comparative analysis. Pay attention and READ!

  • Snapper59

    “As I dragged the case through the terminal…”
    “I was degraded. I was shamed. I was humiliated.”

    Gee, what about this story makes me think it’s bogus and full of crap.
    If I got my luggage and a bunch of stickers said “GET F**CKED” or “EAT SH*T”, I think I would have filed a complaint, maybe taken a picture, and before leaving the area like 99.9999999999 percent of the world, would have removed the stickers.

  • Snapper59

    I just think back to a recent story about a woman who wrote something called a “Mommy Blog” and it was proven most of her stories there were complete BS and fiction for the purposes of hits for her blog.

  • Snapper59

    I now remember, the Mommy Blog lady wrote her little boy was slapped in a WalMart by a stranger who was upset he dressed like a girl. So instead of calling the police or one person in store management or security, she ran home to write a blog entry about it.

  • the other Greg

    @Snapper59: Yes, I have to admit, I’m a little suspicious – it’s hard to believe that blue collar workers in this economy would even have the time to do such a thing.

    Only office workers have the time to plan birthday parties, play Angry Birds, send around joke e-mails and conspiracy theories, and cook up bizarre [email protected] like this.

    This sounds like an office worker’s bored imagination and class-ism.

  • EricNYCity

    Perth Airport is in Australia, NOT New Zealand!!

  • Caleb in SC

    So . . . it would have taken him 30 seconds to peel them off, yet he walked around with them on his luggage. Sounds fishy to me.

  • redspyder

    @EricNYCity: Apparently the guy was flying from Perth to Brisbane… that’s where this happened. In his blog, he said he had a connecting flight on Qantas, with a short window between the two. Was his final destination New Zealand? Dunno.
    Baggage handlers in Australia are a bit pathetic. In Sydney, a marketing manager was taking materials – including a crocodile suit and a camel outfit – down to Melbourne. He checked them. As he was sitting in front of the floor to ceiling windows in front of his gate, he saw a baggage handler being driven across the tarmac wearing his checked in camel outfit.
    It is quite easy for me to believe that some moron in the back said “watch this” as he taped “I am gay” across the luggage. It was first off the carousel. I’m sure he found it hilarious, just as I’m sure his union will do their best to prevent any repercussions to the individual – assuming he is even identified.

  • Elloreigh

    @the other Greg: Gee, stereotype much?

  • EricNYCity

    @redspyder…. the original post said this took place in New Zealand… it has since been revised to a New Zealand man traveling from Perth.

  • jimbryant

    Australia is a backward place. This story sounds phony.

  • GlitterKidder

    As with most stories posted on “Queerty”, the official fact checker was out to a three martini lunch, & could not be reached for comment.
    But hey, did you see the non-Nick Gruber story, about HIV, that Queerty made into a story about Gutter Trash Gruber? Wait are we sure it wasn’t Mr. Gruber who had his suitcase vandalized at the airport? Come on Queerty I’m sure we can tie him into this story too! No?

  • Dixie Rect

    I call shenanigans, this sounds like more bad story telling from bad writers on the Queerty staff.

    I also recall another story about some woman who’s wig got snatched and flushed down the toilet, just like in Valley of the Dolls. And don’t get me started on the raising my rainbow hag either.

  • tom-ba

    @Snapper59: “Gee, what about this story makes me think it’s bogus and full of crap.”

    You could have done a google search for “sleepy dad”, and gotten his blog the first hit. You could have done your own fact checking.


    Then you can go accuse him of making it all up to his face! Since you are so sure. (You aren’t the first person to raise the question of why he didn’t peel off the stickers. So sorry.)

    Here’s the comment form:


    You can comment anonymously! Yay!
    Watch out. People can reply. They aren’t as tame as they are here.

  • gatrdave

    “For no good reason I had had a slur marked over my luggage. I was degraded. I was shamed. I was humiliated.”

    He chose to use that word as a slur instead of owning it and giving it a different power. And I don’t know why he should feel degraded, shamed, and humiliated because people were snickering at his luggage. Is that what he thinks it’s like to be gay? Is that really walking a mile in my shoes?

    I don’t need his pity. When I’m at the airport or supermarket or at my job, I am just me. If someone thinks that he or she knows that I’m gay and snickers or laughs, then that’s all on them-not me.

    This is a ridiculous story that helps the perception that we see ourselves as victims who need to be helped and save. Nonsense.

  • Snapper59

    @tom-ba: Yeah, comment on his blog that needs publicity, after he’s been “contacted by media worldwide”. As with all good blogspots using Google’s response system, your comment gets posted after it gets approved. Hence the universal praise and lack of “why didn’t you peel off the stickers”?

  • Billysees

    @Snapper59: 8:48 am

    I think you’re on to something…

  • smitz

    @marc sfe: @marc sfe: He flew from Perth (AU) to Brisbane (AU). He’s from Queensland (AU). My comment is not a reply and has nothing to do with what Triple S has written, but what Queerty has incorrectly posted. Pay attention next time, you won’t embarrass yourself then.

  • royster

    perhaps he didn’t remove the stickers in case their provenance or how they were applied could be used to trace the perpetrator?

Comments are closed.