One reason David and I started
Taylor Street Favors was to leverage our experiences as gay men and as an adoptive family to support and encourage those whose lives resonate with ours. Too often, same sex couples still must search out reaffirming and supportive businesses and products, particularly when it comes to new territory like marriage equality and raising children. Negative and judgmental messages are part of our everyday. Most of these slights, taken in isolation, could be ignored, but added together they can become more potent and internalized.
For me, early morning impressions just feel bigger and stick longer. Phasers and filters are not fully functioning. That makes what happens during my 5:45 a.m. spin class a bigger deal. And since moving from Portland, Oregon to the central coast of California, I’ve noticed more than a change in the weather.
The spin instructor’s comment was intended as a joke about this area’s reputation as socially conservative. He was hoping to get a rise from the sleepy early morning crowd. He did. What followed his comment were a number of generic gay insult one-liners from a few of the men to my right. I was instantly transported back in time [a l-o-n-g way back] to re-experience as a young adult that vague sense of shame and embarrassment for being who I am — guess one’s chronological age doesn’t mean much when it comes to being the butt of jokes and ridicule. I didn’t notice anything from the women in the room. Either these men were too loud, the room was too dark or — hopefully — the more evolved sex of our species just didn’t think the comments were funny or appropriate. I doubt anyone in the room intended to offend.
This was a great example of a mind-set — homophobia — so baked into our culture that it passes for acceptable banter. Reinforced for me that a business like Taylor Street Favors, with an intentionally inclusive and welcoming message, can make a difference. Being able to shop at a store that intentionally presents the LGBTQ community and modern family celebrations in positive, everyday displays matters. It matters not just to gays and lesbians, but also to our friends, our families, our children. It matters to our future.
What happened next got me up and over. The woman on my left caught my eye and let me know with just the slightest roll-of-her-eye all was well and she was glad I was spinning next to her. I returned to the moment. We had our imaginary riders to chase down in front of us and the instructor was already telling us to stomp on those pedals and dig-deep.
You can guess the group I imagined in front of me as I passed without looking back.