Here is what I am wearing:
A plain t-shirt, solid color, no pattern. It fits well, but it isn't tucked into my black denim shorts. Grey athletic shoes round out the outfit. My wrists are unadorned.
Nothing in my clothing is screaming my sexuality.
I am on the elevator, going up. When I am joined by a man who presents as straight, he smiles at me and says hello. He asks me to press the button for his floor, so I do.
Sometimes, it ends there. Sometimes he will ask me about that week's big sporting event, or perhaps the weather. We will chat pleasantly and I will exit the elevator on my floor. He will not think twice about the interaction.
But I will.
Here is what I am wearing the next day:
A pink shirt with faded text across the chest that says too gay to function. It is tucked neatly into my light-wash denim shorts. My pink shoes match my shirt, and a brown wood-bead bracelet sits squarely on my wrist, providing a tiny touch of masculinity.
I look gay.
I am on the elevator, going up. When I am joined by a man who presents as straight, he smiles and says hello. His eyes slip down to my shirt; the smile slips from his face.
He takes in the rest of me, clears his throat, and tries to figure out how to push the button for his floor without reaching past me as he flattens himself against the wall. Eventually, he gruffly mutters the number. I press the button.
We ride in silence, both of us staring at the floor.
The bell dings. I exit the elevator.
We both sign in relief as the doors close behind me.
Him because he managed not to catch my homosexuality. Me because I managed to survive being made to feel like a disease.
This is just a story, but it is also daily life. The man may be the same man on two seperate days. He may be different men. Other men may react other ways.
None of that matters.
Fear doesn't always sound like screaming, and hate doesn't always sound like an insult. Sometimes they sound like silence on an elevator.
Be better than that.
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