Thursday, 26 November 2009

Walk A Mile In My Shoes

A Day In Hand reveal "The Tao of Elvis" and issue the Elvis Challenge (28th November)

Elvis as gay superhero. A Day In Hand is an organisation that encourages gay people (and straight sympathisers) to walk hand in hand with pride. Since homophobic attacks have seen a 14% increase in Britain since April and ‘gay’ has become a ubiquitous and seemingly acceptable term of abuse, A Day In Hand isn’t really the preaching-to-the-converted mission you might think.

This Saturday, 28th November, we are urged to listen to Elvis’s version of Joe South’s Walk A Mile In My Shoes and walk a mile hand in hand with someone of the same sex, bearing in mind the lyrics:

"Walk a mile in my shoes
Just walk a mile in my shoes
Before you abuse, criticize and accuse
Then walk a mile in my shoes"

A Day In Hand’s Tami Twarog describes her Elvis revelation:
When I drove across country to move to California I visited Graceland. Many of Elvis's favorite expressions were posted around the museum. One was “Don’t criticize what you don’t understand, son. You never walked in that man’s shoes.”

The expression stuck. I thought it is the perfect universal action towards peace. The first critical step in understanding another human being was to put yourself in their place. I bought an Elvis CD at Graceland and the song "Walk a Mile in my Shoes" escorted me for the rest of my drive across the USA.

Regarding A Day in Hand, I thought "What is the real goal?" Stop homophobia. Create understanding. We don't have to convert the LGBT community, or their friends. It's the stubborn bigots who need to come around. How do we do that? Pride parades? Maybe. That's good for us ... for visibility in the community. But will it make those who are homophobic come around? Probably not.

I once again thought of that Elvis quote. Maybe if they were to walk a mile in another man's (girl’s or trans’) shoes they would understand the plight and stigma that still permeates society today. Understand that for our gay brothers & sisters the simple act of holding hands can be a traumatic and even dangerous experience. Even to those who support the gay community, you can't really understand what it's like to live as a gay person until you walk a mile in there shoes. And so the Day in Hand Elvis challenge was born. Plus, says Tami, I love fat Elvis.

Gay Elvis is a multifaceted version. Not just sequins and tight trousers, no, but also embodying some kind of butch machismo (for some) while being the sympathetic comfort figure for others. Camp Elvis, butch Elvis, gay Elvis, lesbian Elvis. Here Elvis is a bridge to understanding, a dispenser of wisdom. More of this later.

For now, come Saturday, Walk A Mile In My Shoes!

Thanks: David Watkins and Tami Twarog of A Day In Hand,; and thanks Stan

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