Nigel Campbell's picture

Straight Man Gets Gay-Shamed In Homophobic Airport Prank

Straight stay-at-home-dad (and blogger) Aaron received quite the shock when he picked up his luggage in New Zealand at the Jetstar Airways baggage carousel.

This was the site that welcomed him:

 

Jetstar has since issued the requisite apologies and has launched an investigation that Aaron is assisting them with, but what we found most interesting was his reflection on the events.

Here's an excerpt from his blog entry after the fact.

My suitcase was the first bag on the carousel. The entire flight's passengers were shoulder-to-shoulder looking for their bags and I'm pretty sure that most people would've seen mine rattling along the rollers. I saw a big red case approaching and excused my way through the throng in order to retrieve it. I noticed some white bits on the side and turned back, apologising to the people who I had just pushed passed. "False alarm," I said to one gent. Then I realised that it actually was my bag and that the white bits were the sign you see in the image above.

I plucked the suitcase off the carousel and had many eyes look me up and down. I was taken aback by the slogan but thought I had thick enough skin to ignore the leering. My connecting flight was about to board so I had to speed through the terminal to check in with Qantas. 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. For no good reason I had had a slur marked over my luggage. 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.

It is said that words can't hurt you. That it is true. But it isn't the words that hurt, it's the intention behind them. "I am gay" was not emblazened across my luggage as a celebration. It was used as a pejorative. It was used to humiliate. It was used as a slur.

It's always interesting to see someone's eyes opened. In this case Aaron was awakened to his "trifecta of privilege" and it appears that it's encouraged him to use his voice in support of those that may not have those same privileges.

What do you think about the Jetstar luggage prank and Aaron's reflection on it, Instincters?

 

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Comments

I'm curious about the follow-up on the airline's investigation of what happened.

Amazing how many stupid people here do not get the point of this blog. "Sleepy Dad" walked through a gauntlet of people at the airport who STARED at him because I AM GAY was on his suitcase. Would they have stared if the jerkoffs who put that on his suitcase illegally had taped "I AM  A GIRL" - what the fuck? How stupid are you idiots (oh wait I know you are totally stupid).

How many of you gay bashers tell your brats to gay bash children in school?

I have a message for the gay bashing idiots here - shove your gay bashing shit down your gay bashing throats and choke on it. No one here cares what you think you gay bashing trolls.

"I can fully understand why our gay friends feel persecuted and why they have such high rates of suicide"

No, you can't. I'm sorry you felt ostracized in that airport, and I appreciate your willingness to blog about it and to think about the issues socially dispriveliged people face, but please don't say you can understand fully. It's important to realize that you can't, and never will -- just like I won't understand fully what it's like to be a person of color, etc.

Important to remember that we don't hold the monopoly on suffering. Maybe a straight person doesn't get to be mistreated or ostracized for being gay. So what, they get mistreated and ostrasized for a million other reasons.

I think you're underestimating our ability to empathise as humans. He hasn't claimed to understand what it is like to BE a gay male, he's simply been able to reflect on this one experience and apply it to what we might experience and feel every day. The fact that he experienced what he did means yes, he can understand why and how gay men (and women, or is that not the case because he's not female?!). In the same way that even though I am white and I will never know what it is like to BE a black person, I can understand fully the types of prejudice that a 'person of color' can feel in everyday life. Verstehen.
It seems like you've taken a great thing that should be celebrated and totally debunked it.

Thanks to Aaron for not being a Hater like other people out there. He's talerant to the needs of the gay community as a whole world wide. THANK YOU Aarom for your understanding what we go through

If only more people could go thru a situation like that, sort of like Jane Elliott's Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes experiment. A lesson learned is a lifetime changed.

So that isn't walking in a gay mans shoes... Most of us don't advertise the facts that we are gay, so don't think because you had it across your luggage that you are anything like us, I would be embarrassed too if I had to run through an airport with something like that on my bag...they were wrong for doing that. But I don't think one sign through an airport filled with people you don't know comes close to filling a gay mans shoes. You have no idea what I've been through, my own father and his father haven't spoken to me since I've been out...not to mention all of the other people I do know having to get used to fact that I am gay. 

I would have laughed my ass off and proudly walked through the airport with it.  :)

In a word, WOW!  That he didn't immediately start pulling the stickers off in a fit & then start screaming for customer service, but instead took the entire experience to heart in such a way is awesome!  Bravo, Aaron, & thank you!

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