• Nathaniel G. Sands

Pride and My Rainbow Jacket

Why do we wear the clothing that we do? What motivates us each morning to look through our closet and pick that one shirt, or those specific shoes. How many of us have stressed over what to wear for that special event, or that first date, or spent way too much money on that piece of clothing we "just had to have".

A persons fashion tells a lot about who they are. I have never been known as someone with a good sense of style. For most of my life I just never cared. When I was a child I was all about sweat pants and baggy shirts. Comfort was the name of the game and I know my mom was consistently frustrated with me when attempting to dress me up for Christmas concerts or family pictures.

bottom row, second from the right

It wasn't until I reached high school that I began to develop a sense of style, if you can call it that. As I started to play shows in my band, I took on a hippy/metal head vibe. Often I would be found with a new design shaved into my head, or a new tie-dye shirt, and what my childhood self never would have predicted: Jeans.

Often our friend groups and musical influences form our fashion. There definitely is a close association of dress and identity. I still haven't outgrown it.

I don't know if you have a favorite piece of clothing or not, but my favorite jacket is a wool, rainbow hoodie that I have now had for over 10 years. I don't know exactly what motivated my friend Adam to buy this Jacket, but the first time I saw it I was in love. In grade 11 and 12 it seemed that me and my friends Curtis and Adam hung out every weekend. We would go to Adams house and I would marvel as Adam paraded around in my favorite jacket. Yet, every time we left the house he would hang it up. I'm sure he was embarrassed to be seen in it. But I was over that. One day I decided to put this object of my affection on as we left Adams house. After doing this a few times I politely told Adam I was going to take the jacket. It has been by my side ever since.

I definitely understand why Adam was hesitant to leave the house wearing this jacket. It definitely attracts a certain level of attention. I remember in grade 11 how often me or one of my friends were the recipients of insults from random people, just because we looked different. People are very judgemental, whether we see it or not. Someone's dress is an easy way of labelling someone without getting to know them. And it disturbs my soul every time I hear someone intentionally put another down, even for something so trivial as a difference in dress. Although I am quite confident in demeaner, and have learned to see an incoming insult as a clear testament to that persons lack of self esteem and empathy, it still wasn't fun being called "queer" or "fag" or "gay".

"...Not that there's anything wrong with that!" - Jerry Seinfeld

Times certainly have changed. It has been years since I've received any insults of such a kind. The western world has begun to accept the truth that homosexuality is overwhelmingly common, that people don't deserve to be insulted about a feeling they can't control, and that a persons personal sexual orientation is not what defines them.

"It was Kierkegaard that said, 'When you label me, you negate me.'" - Wayne Campbell

Jim and I after his move this summer.

Above is a picture of me and my good friend Jim. Over the past year or so the two of us have grown really close and often meet to chat. We both share a passion for music, God, and beer. He even gave me his old cello after finding out it is my favorite instrument and that I wanted to learn it! I consider Jim to be not only a friend but a mentor. I like to talk a lot and Jim is such a good listener. He often gives me great advice or finds a way to relate what I'm going through to himself, offering his wise perspective.

"Charlie", my cello

Jim just so happens to Gay. Before writing this blog I made sure to ask him if it was okay that I share that fact and he said it was all good! I wanted to share this because when I was a youth, a common derogatory term that was used was gay. It was used to demean and to disrespect. I can only imagine how one would have felt about themselves hearing this term used in such a way. To think that the truth of who you are and how you feel is a topic of ridicule has certainly left many feeling out-casted, depressed, and ashamed. Although I may say or act as if what other's think of me doesn't matter, I know that's a lie. All of us are affected by the way other's see us, speak to us and think about us. So why not listen to mom's advice? "If you dont have something nice to say, don't say anything at all."

Humanity is so complicated. We are pushed and pulled, persuaded, and protestant, continuously moving through a series of events that constitute each life. If one could take stock of his or her thoughts it would preclude eternity - how then do we boil down the character of another? Based simply on their style, job, religion, sexuality?

As I continue to expand my diverse circle of friends, I continue to see how different each of us are. Unfortunately, many of us fear these differences between each other instead of marvel at the beauty of it.

Differences can divide people. We often fear what we do not understand. But there's no love in fear. If I were to fear the fact Jim and I have different sexual orientations I would have missed out on such a good friendship, one that I value greatly and suspect will enjoy for many years to come.

When it comes to Love or fear, I urge you... Choose love.

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