I’d wager that most butches and genderqueers who buy men’s clothes have had the experience of being ignored, glared at, or told to go use the women’s department dressing room. This was the case for me at Loehmann’s on 7th Avenue in Chelsea, one of the queerest neighborhoods in New York. Let me be clear – I didn’t ask the clerks to let me get naked with men. There was a single booth with a door that only one person could use at a time. It opened on to the store floor. I would have had to carry my clothes to the next floor and go back and forth to try different sizes.
At the same time, there are also stores and particular clerks who go out of their way to make us feel welcome in the men’s department. I’ve had two great women assist me in the men’s department of Macy’s Chicago. I asked the second if Macy’s had some kind of diversity training that resulted in having such a positive experience twice in the same store. She was surprised and told me they didn’t. She told me Chicago was “a pretty big city.” And I told her that wasn’t the case at Macy’s in New York.
While I don’t think any mainstream store is going to go out of its way to get our business, even in a down economy, I don’t think any of these stores can afford to be widely known for disrespecting us. We envision dapperQ as a community of activists who can creatively document both those who want our business, and those who’d rather ignore our existence. One idea is to develop a list of standards for those companies that are dapperQ-friendly, and a watch list for those that aren’t.
This can be part of a much wider array of a resources framework we are inviting our community to compile of all the dapperQ-friendly tailors, hairdressers, vintage stores, et al. But it could also be a series of undercover videos where we document this stuff. (The Right-Wing is getting really good at this tactic as demonstrated by the undercover videos that convinced Congress to discontinue funding for ACORN.)
Gather your cronies, concoct some dastardly plans, and let us know what you want to produce! (Then we will take down this post so they don’t see us coming…)