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The Role T-Shirts Play in Gay Visibility

Nyc_gaypride_tshirtWhen collecting fridge magnets, post cards and snow globes isn't enough, there are always t-shirts.  The nice thing about them is that they're mobile.  And when they wear out or tear, you can cut off the sleeves and wear them to the gym.  And those that don't fall apart become more snug after years of laundering - perfect for showing off your biceps and pecs.  And while none of my t-shirts are emblazoned with strident social messages, they do communicate that I'm gay.  Of course, wearing such t-shirts in New York may not be quite as bold as wearing them in Oklahoma or Alabama, but it provides visibility nonetheless. 

 

Chances are that  much of the non-gay population probably isn't even aware that the places or images on the t-shirts shown below have a gay connection ...     

 

Gay Pride ...

 

Gaypride_tshirts

 

The Fire Island t-shirt, below on the left, from the summer of 1997, hugs my torso beautifully.  The other t-shirt is from Pines Hardware, which closed at the end of the the 2009 season.

 

Fire_island_tshirts

 

I bought this t-shirt with a fierce image of Grace Jones a few years ago at a street fair in my neighborhood.  The image is from Grace's Slave to the Rhythm album from the mid-1980s.

 

  Grace_jones_tshirt

 

Although the next four may not have an overt gay message, you probably wouldn't see a straight man wearing them.  My t-shirt from NYC Opera t-shirt is one of my favorites because of its color and simplicity of its logo.  The Thomas Eakins t-shirt was purchased in 1991 at an exhibit of his work at Philadelphia's Academy of Fine Arts.  (Eakins was controversial because of his penchant for drawing scenes depicting teen boys, some nude).   The t-shirt from the 2012 revival of Evita goes without saying.  Lastly, the t-shirt from Archaeology Magazine's depiction of a nude athlete from ancient Greece is homoerotic enough to make it a natural for a gay man to wear.

 

Evita_nycopera_tshirts

 

The first vacation t-shirt, from Provincetown, is my newest, purchased this summer; the one from Puerto Vallarta is from spring 2009; I bought the Reykjavik tank top at a tiny gay bar during a vacation in Iceland in 2003; and the last one, from Key West, was bought while vacationing there in the winter of 1996.

 

Ptown_tshirt

Puerto_vallarta_tshirt

Reykavik_tshirt

  Keywest_tshirt
 

 

Finally, here are t-shirts from a magazine (HX), a bar (Splash) and a gay talk show (Party Talk, on the Gay Cable Network during the 1990's) that are no more.  Gone, but hardly forgotten ...

 

Hx_splash_partytalk_tshirts

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