“I AM GAY” Message Pasted On Straight Man’s Suitcase At Baggage Claim
Born and raised in New Jersey, when I hear Jetstar, I think of the old roller coaster in Seaside Heights lost to Sandy. Jetstar in this case is a discount airline, an offshoot of Qantas in Australia and New Zealand. A man taking one of their flights had quite an experience recently when he got off their plane, went to baggage to wait for his suitcase, then was shocked. His was the first piece of luggage to come onto the carousel, and it drew stares from everyone crowded around.
Written with airline stickers in large block letters were the words “I AM GAY”. The man, a heterosexual father of two, has no idea why anyone would have done this. He blogged about it, and now his story is being picked up everywhere.
In telling the story, he blogged about how stunned he was and how all eyes were on him.
I thought I had thick enough skin to ignore the leering. As I dragged the case through the terminal, I looked back at the people I had passed and they too looked at me differently. My luggage was a scarlet letter.
I am a white heterosexual male. This trifecta of privilege means that I’m not routinely subjected to prejudice. But for a few minutes I got to walk in the shoes of a gay person in a public place. I was degraded. I was shamed. I was humiliated.
For me, this was only a few minutes of one day of my life. If what I felt for those few minutes is extrapolated out every day over a lifetime, then I can fully understand why our gay friends feel persecuted and why they have such high rates of suicide. It is unacceptable.
The difference of course being it wasn’t true and all he needed to do was tear some stickers off and throw them in a trash can. For people whose truth is that they are gay, and sadly hated for it, there’s nothing to tear off, nothing to throw away, nothing to get rid of. So I don’t think we straight people can ever fully know what that must be like.