A heterosexual father of two has blogged about his experience having the words ‘I am gay’ plastered on his luggage after boarding a Jetstar flight at Perth airport – an incident which the airline is now investigating.
‘Aaron,’ wrote that the experience had given him a greater appreciation of what gay people go through every day.
‘My suitcase was the first bag on the carousel,’ Aaron wrote on his One Sleepy Dad blog.
‘I saw a big red case approaching and excused my way through the throng in order to retrieve it. I noticed some white bits on the side and turned back, apologizing to the people who I had just pushed passed. "False alarm," I said to one gent. Then I realized that it actually was my bag.
‘I plucked the suitcase off the carousel and had many eyes look me up and down. I was taken aback by the slogan but thought I had thick enough skin to ignore the leering. My connecting flight was about to board so I had to speed through the terminal to check in with Qantas. As I dragged the case through the terminal, I looked back at the people I had passed and they too looked at me differently. My luggage was a scarlet letter.
‘I am a white heterosexual male. This trifecta of privilege means that I’m not routinely subjected to prejudice. But for a few minutes I got to walk in the shoes of a gay person in a public place. For no good reason I had had a slur marked over my luggage. I was degraded. I was shamed. I was humiliated.
‘For me, this was only a few minutes of one day of my life. If what I felt for those few minutes is extrapolated out every day over a lifetime, then I can fully understand why our gay friends feel persecuted and why they have such high rates of suicide. It is unacceptable.’
Aaron says that he is happy with how Jetstar is handling the incident but doesn’t want anyone to lose their jobs over it.
‘I’d rather have broad consciousness-raising over job losses,’ he posted on Twitter.
For its part, the airline has issued a public apology to Aaron.