“Gay for a Day” Ok?

by | August 3, 2010
filed under Can-Con, LGBT, Pop Culture

An astute reader directed me to the website for G-Fad, a local company whose “Gay for a Day” kits were being handed out at Vancouver Pride this past weekend.

The "Gay for a Day" Kit

Each kit contains:

Most of these things are unremarkable at Pride, but it’s the whole “Gay for a Day” idea that bothered the person who sent the info to me.

G-fad’s website states that the shirts are meant for “people with brothers or sisters who are gay…people with fathers or mothers who are gay…people with cousins, friends, neighbours and co-workers who are gay.”

Taking issue with the idea that straight people can choose to be gay for a day and the implication that sexual orientation is a choice, my reader asked, “What’s next?: lesbian for a long weekend?”

There’s certainly no evidence that G-fad is trying to make a statement about the fluidity of sexual identity. In fact, the “Gay for a Day” idea reads more like stereotyping and appropriation for marketing purposes. Straight people should be allies in the struggle for LGBTQ equality – at Pride and throughout the year – but “Gay for a Day” feels kind of like a white person dressing up “Mexican” for Halloween by wearing a sombrero and a fake moustache. Not only is it a stereotype (how do flashing sunglasses denote one’s gayness?) , but it’s highly convenient for the person taking on the identity. They don’t have to experience any real threat of discrimination or identity-based violence and when the Pride celebrations are over there’s no obligation to continue thinking about gay rights.

I should note, for those people worried a “Gay for a Day” shirt might make them seem too gay, listed disclaimer-like on the back is the following definition:

‘gay

Function: adjective

1. a: bright and pleasant, promoting a feeling of cheer;

b: keenly alive and exuberant: having or inducing high spirits

2. Full of or showing bright-spirited merriment;

3. Brightly colored and showy;

I guess this is in case someone asks you about your shirt and you’re embarassed. Then I guess you can say, “No! I didn’t mean I’m gay-gay for a day. I just mean I’m brightly colored and showy. Can’t you tell by my mini rainbow flag of non-homosexual bright-spirited merriment?”

Doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. What do you think?

-Jarrah

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  • Tania

    I looked at the gay for a day site and I think they really meant to be doing something positive with this. It did make me feel a bit weird to see the shirts at pride but I think the company’s heart was in the right place. Maybe they should’ve just thought out their message a bit more because I agree it has problems.

  • jarrahpenguin

    Hi Tania. I do agree with you about the intent – it does seem like it was meant to be a statement of support. And I appreciate that the company donated partial proceeds to some great local charities.

    But there’s a difference between the intent and the message that came across. And I know my reader and I weren’t the only ones who felt that way. Helen on the Georgia Straight blog had a similar reaction (http://www.straight.com/article-335742/vancouver/20-kit-can-make-you-gay-day-vancouver-pride) and one of the best tweets I read on the subject said: “Sorry… “Gay For A Day” shirts are for those fearful that they will be mistaken as actually gay at Pride. #thatwouldbehorrible”

    I know there were also people who thought the message was fun and supportive, but it definitely rubbed me the wrong way.

  • http://www.g-fad.com Joanne

    g-fad was conceived by a gay man who would like to see all walks of life celebrate diversity together. The kit reads ” to be used in the spirit of fun”…and that is the intention. G-fad will continue to leave politics out of its’ mandate and continue to stereotype its’ supporters and customers as like minded people who are helping to make a difference.

    We would have like to have seen mentioned in your original piece that partial proceeds from the sales of our kits go to some fabulous charities and people of all races, gender, sexual orientation, etc, benefit from the proceeds. Perhaps even some of your readers or even yourself, might one day need the help of some of the organizations we’ve helped, and at that point, would it really matter that aid came to you because of what it may or may not say on a shirt, or what’s stuffed in a kit?

    It was also unclear that you understood our “intent was good”. It wasn’t until a later Twitter post stated “Well it was just my impression. I do think the intent was good, but a different message came across for some”. If you thought there was good intention, it should have been mentioned, just like “Helen Halbert” of the Georgia Straight did, whom you’ve also referred to. While Helen’s piece was somewhat tongue and cheek, she did manage to cover ALL the elements, good, bad or indifferent.

    We understand and welcome the opinions people have about our organization. We listen to the criticisms and address them as they surface, and we’re open to learning from it all. In fact… the fact that we’re even having to respond to your blog is in our opinion a success, it means we made an impact to a degree and now we’ve got people talking… and I think the more people talk, the better this world would be…. Perhaps if people talked more often the gay/straight debate would not exist…. At all.

    As it says above, the kits were created to be fun and to give back to society in some way. We’re not about saving the world or fixing all its problems, its to bring a smile to someone who might feel like they’re doing that already, or they have the weight of the world on their shoulders and just need a break from it, even for just a few seconds of watching someone looking silly in some flashing sunglasses…..
    I’ll share the fact that I recently lost my aunt, someone very dear to me, a few days before Vancouver Pride, I was sad and was not at all looking forward to mingling or socializing with anyone during the weekend pride events. However, as I entered the site for the Davie Street Dance Party, I was met with both our founders wearing these damn blinking sunglasses, (even popping out the lenses as the night wore on and the sun went down!) and it was just what I needed! It made me laugh, they looked like dorks and it was mission accomplished because I was able to forget about my sadness, for just a little bit….

  • jarrahpenguin

    Hi Joanne and the g-fad folks,

    I really appreciate you taking the time to respond. You’re right that I could’ve better clarified that I had an issue with the message, not the intent. I think your response clearly showed the intent of the product was to be fun and benefit charities and while the slogan still doesn’t sit comfortably with me, I think it’s great that you helped fill in those blanks for my readers.

    Thanks for being willing to engage in discussion!

  • http://g-fad.com Joanne

    Thanks Jarrah, We always welcome discussion. We are a young company, so its important to keep those lines of communication open so everyone is happy, and so we can continue to learn.

    Have a great afternoon
    Joanne

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