June 29th, 2003

Me: swimming at the Ledges

Two T anecdotes

First of all, I had a lovely time at pixel's Connecticut Poly retreat this weekend. Collapse )

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That's mostly to set the stage for what kind of mood I was in for the next anecdote. I transfered to the orange line, and after a few stops a seat became available, and I sat down next to a young woman (or oldish girl), probably college age but maybe high-school age, wearing eyeliner and fashionable clothing. Three other women about the same age and similarly dressed were across the aisle; the four of them were clearly travelling together. They all had distinct Boston accents.

Because I had a dufflebag between my legs (“...or are you just happy to see me?” ba-dum, ching), my backpack was on my lap rather than on the floor where it usually is.

After a few stations, the woman next to me asked me “What does that say?” It took me a moment to realize what she was talking about: the one button I'd left on my backpack after Boston Pride (cool pix of xoxjasminexox, and one with a little bit of my foot in it). I read it for her: “Racism, sexism, homophobia: Recognize the connections.” She looked puzzled about it for a while, and the three women across the aisle got amused expressions. There was a pause. Meaning to be disarmingly self-deprecating, I said “It's deep,” but she took me at face value and said “Yeah”, and a moment later, “I'm trying to wrap my brain around it — what's it mean?” I said, “Basically, all those things are about dividing people into groups, and saying, ‘that other group is not like us, we're better than them’. And did you ever notice that it's often the same people doing all three of these things? Oh, but now I'm doing it, saying those other people aren't like us,” and she said “Yeah, stereotypes within stereotypes,” and after a pause, “I don't like all of these,” gesturing at the button and meaning racism, sexism, and homophobia. I had spent some time this afternoon reading Pixel's car, so I had a Wolfman Jack quote to share with her: “Where did bigots get the idea that God is as small-minded as they are?” and she said “Yeah, there are some good ones. I took a poetry class once” and she gave me a quote which unfortunately I've forgotten (although it was one I'd heard before). At that point we'd reached Wellington, where I was going to get on the bus, so I said goodbye and got off. (As I stood up, I realized I had my Poly Boston T-shirt on, with “Expand Your Family” on the back.)

Given the fact that I was preaching to the converted, and I'm not sure who was teaching whom anyway, it wasn't the most high-impact piece of activist outreach I've ever seen, but it gave me a good feeling, and made me think I should start wearing buttons more often.