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I See Orange People

I See Orange People

I’ve always liked a girl in a uniform.  Geena Davis in her WWII era baseball uniform in the film “League of Our Own”….delicious!  My late, great Aunt Edith in her WAVES uniform…impressive!  The women in “Animal Cops-Florida”…fun!  When both the fire and the police chief in San Francisco were women I was in heaven; always hoping for a sighting.

I know…I’m a feminist….anti-war, anti-militarism, etc. But I still find something erotic about it.  Neat? Crisp? Power?  And it appeals to a lot of us.  Or maybe just those of us who were abandoned as children?  Or feel precarious in the world?  Some psych major has an answer I’m sure.

But the thing is that ‘uniforms’ come in lots of manifestations and often in unsuspecting ways.  So I’m wearing orange a lot now…partly because I always do for Halloween.  But, this year the San Francisco Giants won the World Series! I wear any one of my Giants tee shirts on the street and I get the thumbs up. However, I don’t even need have on full gear, all I have to do is wear something orange and suddenly I’m in a uniform that makes people recognize me.

People in orange all over San Francisco are smiling at each other and giving the high sign.  Downtown an older, white man in a business suit and orange tie waved at me.  The black kid on Market Street who sells hip hop CDs gave me the black power sign.  An indigent guy who was panhandling remarked that he loved my Giants tee shirt that says “I see orange people.”

And it’s not just guys.  The Indian woman I see in the garage booth every day waved wildly when I came by in my orange turtle neck; several women on the elevator in my office too.  The commonality of the color made people want to connect.

Because other cities love making fun of San Francisco and “SF Values” maybe we bond even more.  The way the Phillies fans treated Tim Lincecum because of his long hair was atrocious in ways more complex than simply trashing ones opponent.  Their way of insulting him was to wolf whistle like he was a girl. It confirmed: yes, misogyny is the root of all evil and the worse thing to say about someone is that they’re like a girl.  And we know if the fans felt they could have gotten away w/calling out ‘FAGGOT’ they would have!  But they can get away with denigrating him for a trait identified with femaleness.

So when San Franciscans wear orange (our uniform) it’s like we’re standing up for something.  (I’ve really just said everything I know about baseball here, so don’t expect stats.)  My ethnicity, my age, my size, what my politics might be—all were subsumed under the color orange and the implication that we all support a common thing…the Giants and SF values.

Now if we could just figure out how to make that uniform phenomenon work to the benefit of some major progressive change.

Jewelle Gomez is the author of 7 books including the lesbian vampire classic novel, The Gilda Stories.  Her new play about James Baldwin will be produced in September 2011. Follow her on Twitter: VampyreVamp.  Or her website: www.jewellegomez.com

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2 comments

  • Bianca says:

    I hear you on the beautiful experience of feeling unified and connected under the banner of a similar identity. But don’t we often experience this during specific celebrations?? Whether they are under the banner of racial (King day, May 1), sexuality (Pride), or national (Olympics)similarities, we temporarily become connected and identified through the uniforms of that celebration. But it falls apart when we actually have to talk to one another and reveal how different our beliefs are.
    but yes, i wish we could channel this embracing of the uniform for progressive movememnts – our fractions seem to be both a strength (shows resistance to being a follower), but is clearly a weakness for making change at higher levels. thanks for posting your thoughts, jewelle!

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