I've been present at some pretty uncomfortable (for me) Shabbos tables before. Shabbos tables where people have said some pretty ignorant things about homosexuality. Shabbos tables where people forget to think before they speak. But today was the worst of all.
Today I sat at a Shabbos table where the words "gay" and "homo" were used derogatorily multiple times. Because if a boy writes "xoxo" in a text message, he MUST be gay and we should make fun of him for that. Because if a boy goes to a steak restaurant and orders a vegetable dish, he MUST be gay- why else wouldn't he order a nice, manly steak? Because if a boy likes a Lady Gaga song, he MUST be a homo- clearly there is no other explanation for such a crazy, outrageous statement.
During this meal, Mike's Hard Lemonade was served. Mike's now makes pink lemonade as well. On the six-pack, it says, "We've gone pink, not soft." When I first saw that last night, I was upset. Annoyed. Did they really have to do that to keep their customers? Do we really need to live in a world where there needs to be a disclaimer against a "girly" colored drink?
Apparently the answer is yes. When both flavors of Mike's were put on the table today, one of the boys said, in reference to the color, "Can I still drink this?" and another boy said, "Is this for girls?" Obviously not seriously, obviously as a joke- right?
So here's the deal. Boys can drink hard pink lemonade and girls can drink scotch. Boys can order salads and girls can order steaks. Your gender and your sexuality don't matter- just be yourself and like what you like.
I'm a gay woman who likes salad and steak. My favorite color, depending on the day, is either blue or black. If I'm getting a drink, I get what I'm in the mood for- not what I think a girl should get. Sometimes I love putting on makeup, and sometimes I don't put on makeup for days because it can be annoying. And no, I don't wear flannel.
Stereotypes and societal expectations can be destructive, and so can the degrading use of words that give in to these expectations. My biggest upset today was the feeling of shame that swept through me when I decided that, despite desperately wanting to, I couldn't say anything to these boys because I was scared of bringing attention to myself that I couldn't afford. Instead of standing up for myself and my community, I hid in my neat little closet, because there was nothing else I could do.
Here's to a world where girls can play with trucks and boys can go to musicals without the raising of any eyebrows whatsoever.