Friday, July 06, 2012
A Dainty Yellow Hat: Fit For a Queen
click on picture to enlarge
I somehow want to tell you about my yellow hat and the day it had in the Pride parade.
I first saw it in the windows of Reflections, a shop near where I live, and noticed that it perfectly matched my yellow shirt. I decided, immediately, to buy it to wear on Pride day in the parade. It's been hanging up in our hallway ever since, calling attention to itself simply by being wildly different than the other hats it shares space with.
Something about me.
I have been fat pretty much my whole life. I learned to hate being centered out, hate being noticed, hate the judgements in other people's eyes. I learned that because I was more, I was less than others. I learned that I needed to dress in ways which de-emphasized my size - black or any 'earthy' colour with the word 'dark' in front of it. I did all this.
It shocked me that somehow, through twists of fate no one would have predicted, the very shy child that I was became a public speaker. Getting up in front of people to talk, initially, terrified me - it still does but I've learned that the terror goes away after I get started. I believe that somewhere along the way in the lecture that what I am saying becomes more important than who is saying it ... so I can disappear in front of a crowd. I can hide, in plain view.
On Pride day, I wanted to do something a little different. I wanted to go down the street, fully out, completely proud and make my membership in the communities to which I belong absolutely evident. I am fat. I am disabled. I am gay. I know on previous marches, people saw these things, but this one I didn't want anyone to mistake my message. I see them too. I know who I am.
I AM OUT.
Visibility is an act of courage. Others have written, better than I have, that for people with disabilities every time we enter the community, we change the community. We add ourselves into the social fabric of humanity. We claim status as neighbours, as fellow citizens, as 'owning' community. We take the word 'diversity' which many have wrapped up tightly - making it mean 'this difference' or 'that difference' - and stretch out to mean 'all difference'.
This was my personal goal.
I took my difference, I took my size, my wheelchair, my sexuality, and put a yellow pillbox hat, with a dainty veil, on it.
We got to the parade gathering spot.
Ruby was practising, or that's what she called shooting water at others in the area, on her Supersoaker. We waited in the shade while the rest of the group gathered. Then.
I put the hat on.
Suddenly people were stopping and commenting on the hat. "It looks good," "I love your hat," was said over and over again. Suddenly I was in conversation with drag queens and with leather dudes.
The parade started.
We went by people screaming and cheering.
I don't know if my yellow shirt and yellow hat was understood by anyone.
I don't know if they understood that I had thrown the closet door wide open.
I WAS OUT.
And for the moment, in front of a milion people, completely, fearless about what those things mean.