I am casually sitting in class, my LGBT Center lanyard hanging loosely out of my jacket pocket. I am walking through the halls, the rainbow lanyard swaying side to side against my thigh. I am at a friend’s apartment, the rainbow lanyard secure in my pocket, and my friend’s rainbow lanyard loose around her neck.
A guy grabs my lanyard looks me in the eye and bluntly asks, “Why do you have this? Are you gay?”
I shrug it off and say to the guy in my class, the guy in the hall, and the guy in my friend’s apartment, “Why do you care?”
My friend answers, “No, I just like the colors.”
In a world of stereotyping and gender norms, rainbows have become a “gay thing.” It’s the gay pride flag symbol. When LGBT youth come out, they may celebrate with rainbows, we have rainbows puked all over everything we own from clothes to pins to even hair.
It has become such a symbol for the LGBT community that it’s the first thing that comes to minds when asked about rainbows.
Jenna Peterson a student at Minnesota State University, Mankato, states, “I think about the pride flag.”
Another student, Shank Mogili says, “Do you want me to say it out loud? Ummm… it’s gay?”
Rainbows have such a strong association with being LGBT, that you’re immediately labeled as gay if you own something rainbow, such as the infamous rainbow lanyard. It’s gotten to the point where it has become a stereotype of LGBT individuals. People can no longer wear a rainbow without being asked about their sexuality.
Madison Diemert, the news editor at the MSU Reporter and an ally of the LGBT community, stated, “I used to have the LGBT Center rainbow lanyard until it ripped in half, but when I used to have it, my dad would always say when he saw it, ‘What are you, a lesbian or something?’ Like he would take the key off the lanyard to move my car and everything. It’s just a lanyard!”
As a young gay person in the closet, I froze at the prospect of someone asking me about my rainbow accessories.
Today, I proudly wear my rainbow lanyard hanging down my side, even when my cousin asks as he yanks the lanyard out of my pocket, “Are you gay?”
Feature photo by Maria Ly | MSU Reporter.