Surprise at Staples
Since Quiet Deviants just launched at the end of May, I decided to view Pride festivals as an advertising opportunity as much as a sales opportunity. Making the Quiet Deviants brand as visible as possible was a top priority. The 10x10 pop up tent I bought was sturdy enough to support a banner, so I ordered one through a local Staples store. The manager there was helpful in a few email exchanges—I wanted it a specific size—and happened to be in the store when I picked up the final vinyl banner.
As I was double-checking the banner, I mentioned that it was being used at Pride festivals. Per usual, I hesitated as I debated whether this was a good idea. As odd as it may seem, it’s still intimidating for me to constantly come out as I talk about the idea behind Quiet Deviants and how the company came to life. In typical Perry style, I went from 0 (totally in the closet with very few exceptions) to 60 (approaching a Professional Gay?) in 3.5, as Rihanna used to say. Part of the intimidation comes from lack of practice, but part of it is due to the fact that it’s still hard to predict whether reactions will be positive or negative.
I figured that worst case scenario, it’d be just an awkward conversation that I could exit quickly. It turned out to be a much happier result. The manager smiled and mentioned that he, his husband, and his friend were planning to go to a few different Pride festivals this summer—I believe Indianapolis was on the list. We chatted in general about Pride, and then I thanked him for being easy to work with and moved on as a line was forming. As simple as this interaction seems, it reminded me that I, and others, share a unique connection with a community that we have exclusive access to. It’s by sheer luck since it’s a part of you when you’re born, but I have been trying to push myself to view being a part of the LGBTQ community as a positive, as a blessing rather than a curse. Just because of a simple conversation, we had a unique link. Of course we’re not best friends, or immediate confidants. But I felt lighter walking out than I did walking in.
This was also a good personal reminder that being out isn’t always scary or menacing. Sometimes it can feel as if there’s a persistent dull siege that we need to be on guard against, one that will occasionally poke through enough to cause us to repair the exterior armor we adorn. I admit I buy in to this narrative too easily, but it allows me to learn from a simple exchange with a Staples manager. Had I not been willing to tell him what the banner was for, I would’ve missed out. I’m hoping that wearing Quiet Deviants clothing helps people in this way too—it can act as an ice breaker, or give people a sense of reassurance as they navigate along their own journey.