First things first--I am absolutely aware of my privilege. I'm a cis, hetero white man, of unexceptional girth and slightly more than average height. I have no scars, no birthmarks, no differences of ability which would draw the eye. In short, I'm playing the Game of Life on the lowest possible difficulty level, and damn lucky for it.
So. A few months ago (right before
Hogswatch Christmas), I decided to start painting my fingernails. I've always wanted to--or, at least, since I was at least a preteen--but I've never had the courage to do it. I'm not prone to an action such as this simply for attention or to be "different". I simply realized that, for the first time in my life, I was comfortable enough with myself and my life to scratch a long-denied itch.
My beautiful wife bought me many varieties of polish, and I've been painting my nails ever since. A couple of people at work teased me a bit, of course, but out of love, and that's been that. Since then, I've enjoyed the meditative experience of the delicate work of applying polish to my nails, the experimentation involved in figuring out how to keep my nails looking good as long as possible, the attention I get from people about my color choices. It's been an altogether positive thing in my life.
A week ago, I shot a product video for work. I gave a nice little tour of a new circuit board, pointing out the various features with, naturally, my (beautifully blue nailed) fingers. I'll own I was curious how it would be received; I was anticipating a bit of insult slinging, along the lines of "What a fag" or "That chick's got really hairy arms". What I wasn't prepared for was anger.
There is no such thing as a grown up, there are just kids who get older and have kids of their own, and no one really knows what the hell is going on. And this guy painting his nails is a perfect example. Also, it's our right to judge people too, it's a perfectly natural thing to do, based on my observation of his nails, I can see that he is very insecure and probably makes a lot of bad choices in life, IF he actually did paint his nails for personal reasons. (Aliens8MyCows)
NO DEAL! I tried not letting it bother me, but it REALLY DOES BOTHER ME THAT HE MADE A VIDEO WITH PAINTED NAILS. Same way it bothers me when people where pants below their butt, or how Afghan women wear those cloths around there face. Its somewhat offensive... (Marco LovesNambla)
I'm pretty amazed by that, truthfully.
I'm not really offended by it--if I'm not expecting blowback surrounding such a thing by the age of 34, I'd be a fool indeed--but, geez, do these people really think I didn't know that I was doing something outside the norm?
Anyway, it's been an interesting taste of what it's like to be outside of my privileged class. I can always take off the nail polish. It's not who I am, and it's not central to my sense of self or well-being. Were I, for example, transgender, I'd imagine the reaction would be much the same, and I doubt I (or anyone) could be so sanguine as I am about this.
Finally, I want to thank my coworkers for their support. The outpouring of genuine love from them only reiterates to me that, for perhaps the first time in my life, I've found a group of people that I truly fit in with. I'm proud to be a part of an organization of people who will go to the mat for something as silly as my right to wear nail polish--I can only imagine what they'd do for someone who is LGBT or of a minority suffering similar slander.