Sometimes You Just Have To Embrace The Stereotype That Resembles You
I have always wondered why people are so offended by stereotypes. I for one have always thought a stereotype was a great source of comedy and I can’t think of one time that I didn’t laugh when something stereotypical comes up in my life. I get it if someone is doing it to “put someone down” I guess but really, who would give someone else that kind of power over their emotions? Certainly not I. Sometimes you just have to embrace the stereotype that resembles you – Don’t Get Me Started!
The other day I was in a grocery store and as I only had a few items to pick up (but too many to just carry in my hands) I chose to pick up one of those handheld baskets as I entered the store. After placing a few items into my basket I found myself with the dilemma that several short people find in a grocery store, needing something off of the top shelf. I looked around for someone tall to no avail but being the resourceful shorty I am I simply slipped the basket up on my forearm and grabbed hold of one of the shelves to pull myself up while my other hand reached up to grab the item. (Disclaimer, I know that you’re not supposed to do this but I did it anyway.) After retrieving my item and having my feet back on solid ground I put the item in my basket that was still dangling off of my forearm like Nancy Walker’s purse as Rhoda’s mother. And that’s when it hit me that I felt a little like “Dorothy” from the Wizard of Oz. As I stood in the aisle laughing to myself I couldn’t help but think I was one of the biggest gay stereotypes in stereotypeland. First, for making a Nancy Walker reference and then secondly for feeling like “Dorothy” from The Wizard of Oz for Chrissakes! I mean, does it get any better than that? I don’t think so. And I’m proud to say that the basket stayed right on my forearm as I continued my shopping, walking down the somewhat yellowed linoleum road of each aisle. And I’m proud to say that I did manage to stop myself from saying out loud, “Why I’m not a witch at all. I’m Dorothy Gale, from Kansas."
I think using stereotypes can be very empowering. I’ll never forget when I was overseeing the audio/video as well as lighting design and installation for a new entertainment complex my former company was building. It was my job to deal with all the vendors on a regular basis. At one of the first meetings, something just slipped out in my conversation with the lead designers in the room. They were showing me all the blueprints and assuring me that they could get everything done in a very tight schedule and on budget when I just heard myself saying, “Look, I’m a Jew so what I really want is for it to be under budget as well as have you all still deliver everything you say that you’re going to deliver. It’s like the whole Christmas thing. As a kid you have two weapons against your Christian counterparts, the first is that your parents tell you there is no Santa Claus (but to keep it from the Christian kids so as to not upset them) but the biggie is that we get eight nights of presents and not one morning of them like Christmas. Listen all of you, don’t promise me eight days of Hanukkah and only deliver one day of Christmas!” Throughout the project it became a sort of running gag with all the designers and their teams. As the building progressed I would ask, “How many nights are we up to?” They would answer that we were at least up to two or three nights at the start of the project and by the end when they asked me to sign off on all the work they not only wrote on the final work orders, “Delivered: 8 Nights” but they came with a chocolate box with a Jewish star on it, filled with Hanukkah gelt for me! Now some could be offended by me using my Jewishness that way but we all loved it and it helped get the job done with a smile on our faces.
I’ve said it before and I’ll no doubt say it a thousand more times in my lifetime. I have been in a monogamous gay relationship for twenty-two years, me the short Jewish guy with a spouse that is a six foot black man who was once an altar boy. We ARE the poster children for hate crimes. In fact I’m surprised every morning when I walk out of my house that I DON’T see Fred Phelps’ Westboro Baptist Church followers protesting me or the KKK there with a burning cross in the lawn!
Sometimes you just have to take the so-called power that stupid people think they have over you back. Bullies, morons, political and religious zealots they’re all really the same at this core aren’t they? They’re loud and think they’re keeping people down by using stereotypes with a derogatory tone. What they don’t realize is that for the most part it doesn’t work and really just makes those of us who are more evolved than they laugh. Sometimes you just have to embrace the stereotype that resembles you – Don’t Get Me Started!
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- Some Like It Scott!
An acquired taste, like Tab cola, Some Like It Scott is one gay man's experiences with love, life and things that make him crazy, all done to a musical theatre soundtrack.