Ms. Behavior®: Breaking Fashion Rules and Gospel Choir Bullies


Dear Ms. Behavior:

I feel that you are the only one who can help me in this crisis, and indeed I have nowhere else to turn.  Here is my dilemma: I happen to look good in white and I want to wear it all the time. Now that I’ve come back from a warm vacation and Spring is coming, I don’t want to wait until Memorial Day. So, what is the big deal about wearing white after the “appropriate” season? I asked a friend who is from the “old school of southern ways” and I thought that she could help, but she didn’t clarify anything. She merely told me that it’s “tacky.”  Can you help?


Dear M:

Ms. Behavior herself makes it a practice to never wear white so as not to be mistaken for a bride or a virgin. But if you tan well (which Ms. Behavior does not) and feel compelled to show off, you may not be able to resist wearing the contrasting non-color. This may sometimes be forgiven, unless you wear white shoes. (White shoes in general are a no-no unless you’re a woman attending her own wedding.  Why, you may ask? Because white shoes are dorky.)

Wearing white in general has its hazards. First, if you drop food on your white shirt, it won’t blend in. Second, you can’t get away with much perspiration. Most importantly, of course, white is not slimming. But none of the above addresses the seasonality issue that you ask about.

The main reason for not wearing white after Labor Day is so that you don’t risk being mistaken for a straight Miami drug dealer, a male nurse, or a Palm Springs golf dandy. But if you’re not concerned about your image, there’s no reason to pay attention to such stringent and arbitrary fashion guidelines. So, Ms. Behavior gives you her permission to break all the fashion rules. Live it up. Wear socks with your sandals. Wear a belt with your suspenders. If you don’t have any clean black socks, wear the nubby beige ones that your aunt gave you for Christmas. And wear a smile when you sit alone on Saturday nights, washing your hair and watching the weekend television lineup.


Dear Ms. Behavior:

I am part of a church and sing in the gospel group. A couple of months ago, my partner and I eloped but placed our wedding announcement in the local newspaper.  While some members of my church reacted to the news with delight, several were surprised though I’ve never hidden my relationship with my husband. Three choir members cornered me and said that homosexuality is against their religious beliefs; they said that they are uncomfortable around me and wish that I would quit the choir.

So, should I quit? Refuse to quit? Should I gather a bunch of queers to picket outside our next rehearsal? I’m torn because I really enjoyed this group, but this recent turn of events threatens to suck the fun out of it for me.


Dear Sam:

Don’t allow these so-called Christians to closet their unbrotherly stance against you. Talk to the pastor and a few of the friendlier congregants. Get the media involved. If you feel forced to leave, it would be best to go out with a bang (preferably on the church lawn).

If reasonable conversation and bad publicity don’t appeal to you, you could offer to resign, but on the condition that you’re allowed to do one last solo performance. Then come up with a series of songs expressing your position. (Think of it as “The Sodomy Medley.”) Your friends will surely be able to help you re-write the lyrics to some classic church tunes so that worshipers will barely remember that “Amazing Grace” didn’t previously include references to fellatio and that “Ave Maria” isn’t about a drag queen.

But despite fighting a good fight against the homophobes, if you don’t find that you have enough like-minded friends and fans, you may still want to find a friendlier place to sing. Consider forming your own gospel choir with like-minded queers.


© 2013 Meryl Cohn. Address questions and correspondence to [email protected].

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