I hadn't noticed the faded bumper sticker until I was stopped behind the car at a red light. An obviously newer blue and yellow Human Rights Campaign logo on the rear window stood out more prominently
As I waited for the light to change, I pondered my reactions to the two stickers.
It struck me that even though the driver was proclaiming support for GLBT rights with both decals, I felt vaguely annoyed.
It was the "Straight but not Narrow" that rubbed me the wrong way.
I've never been particularly fond of that slogan. I'm sure that whoever coined it had his or her heart in the right place, but that doesn't alter the patronizing undertone of what's intended as a statement of solidarity.
Something about it just smacks too much of "Some of my best friends are black."
There's an odd dichotomy implicit in Straight but Not Narrow, which combines a gesture of inclusivity on the one hand with a simultaneous distancing on the other.
To paraphrase, "Hey, I'M NOT GAY, but it's okay with me if YOU are."
Well gee, thanks so much.
I don't mean to sound churlish, though I probably do anyway. Clearly there are bumper stickers I find infinitely more offensive (the letter "W" comes to mind, but thankfully one sees fewer of those nowadays).
I'm sure that part of my annoyance yesterday stemmed from a guilty conscience: I was peeved at a woman who considers herself my ally and perhaps even my advocate. I'm sure she would be hurt to think that a gay person might be even mildly offended by her statement of support.
But here's the thing. How bold is it, in one of the nation's bluest states, to proclaim "I don't hate gay people"?
I doubt that she has ever been chased through traffic by someone screaming homophobic slurs, as I was ten years ago when I dared to have a rainbow sticker on my crappy '86 Dodge Lancer.
If yesterday's Sentra had sported only the HRC sticker, I would have probably just thought the driver was lesbian. I might well have been wrong, but the point would have been that we both support gay rights, and she was willing to have people identify her, even erroneously, as a homosexual.
Even if she and a man had been making out at the red light in a car with an HRC sticker, I would have thought, "Those are some open-minded straight people who need to get a room," and that would have been that.
However, when a member of a socially privileged group (i.e. heterosexuals) expresses their support for victims of discrimination, while at the same time making it clear that he or she is does personally not belong to that group--well, it just kinda bugs me.
Maybe I read too much into things. I was a lit-crit student for many years, after all. That's basically all we did.
So, what do you think?