I was doing some errands earlier this morning. I had to step into Target and get a few things. I’m on foot, of course, but it’s only an 8 minute walk. I have on my backpack, my ball cap.
As I get closer to the front door, I see another man very similar to myself also approaching. I allow him to walk in first. He’s obviously one of the homeless guys that live on the corner of Primrose in the weekly hotel just a block away.
He has on a ball cap, a backpack, jeans and whatever shoes he has at his disposal. His skin is weathered, and looks like red leather; his eyes are dim, his face mostly hidden behind a week of not shaving. He looks much older than his middle-aged status, but his experiences in this life have aged him so much more.
We travel down the same aisles, both in search of something. And the whole while he’s just a few feet ahead of me. And I keep studying him, looking at him….remembering what my life was like then, back when I was homeless.
A store clerk asks him is she can help him find anything. He says, “Oh, yes. Please, where can I find some sunscreen?”
She politely tells him which aisle he can find it on. I keep walking of course, but I hear over my shoulder, “Is there something I can help you find?”
I turn around, but she’s not even talking to me. She’s talking to another ball cap, back pack, weathered, red leather skinned man in the “middle-age” of his life. He tells the clerk he’s looking for white socks. She sees me stop and asks if there is something she can help me with.
I couldn’t speak. I had NO words to say back….I stood there with my mouth open, watching the whole beautifully weird scenario being played out.
She thought I was one of those homeless guys.
I just muttered, “No, I’m good. Thank you! Thank you, though.”
I finished my shopping, got home, and went to go look at myself in the mirror. Saw the homeless man I used to be still staring back at me! Yeah….
This look….it hasn’t changed. Sometimes I begin to think my mindset hasn’t either. But, I’m too far gone from homeless now. No, no. I am not going back there again. Hell or high water.
But, I still look like him, though. I still look like I did when I was homeless.
I don’t know why! Maybe because I’m too busy knitting that I don’t CARE what I look like?
(And you know what’s funny? I rarely look at my reflection. I know, you may think “BS!” but it’s so true. I walk right by mirrors. Some days I catch a glimpse and I’m freaking AMAZING!….other days I walk by and wonder if the ghost of Don Knotts is borrowing my mirror. Either way, I’d rather my self empowerment come from the things I do and not by what I look like. So….)
But, today I stood right in front of that mirror and took a long look at everything that was wrong with me when it comes to the marketing of social media stars. Yes, I’m weathered, red leather skinned, back pack, ball cap, “middle aged” and white….
Dammit, I guess that’s just the way it is.
(Did that “white” comment sting? I hope not. Because if you are going to use your race to identify with you, then perhaps I should identify myself, too. I’m a white, middle aged, conservative gay man who identifies as “Gregory” ((or as the kids are calling me now, “GP,”)) and “Mad Man Knitting,” who knits.
Now, see? If you had just LOOKED at that picture of me without text, you might have said an awful lot about the idea you have of me. “He is probably this, probably that, probably does this, probably does that.”
But, that’s the face of a knitter! Maybe not the one you want, but it IS the face of a knitter!
That face may not be the most preferred at the moment, but it is the face of a knitter! I went viral because knitters saw a fellow knitter in trouble and they helped. In ANY way they could. Because knitters come in all sorts of glorious shapes, sizes, genders and colors…and those glorious shapes, sizes, genders and colors are irrelevant because we are knitters 🙂
(Terms like “shapes, sizes, genders and colors” should only be referenced in knitting patterns.)
So I ask of you, you that are on a quest for diversity in knitting: should this diversity really be about shapes, sizes, genders and colors?
Of course, not.
I would LOVE for you to invite me to the diversity table….
But, I get it if you don’t. We don’t see eye to eye on what real diversity is. You think it’s skin color, gender….
The real diversity of knitting rests on all the beautiful, strange, wild, and interesting people that are called to this craft, who are wanting to learn from this craft, and want to contribute to this craft based only on their love for variegated skeins, and not on their victim status. They want to enjoy this moment, when knitting is soulful, not superficial. This is where knitting matters: when the least person you suspect, because of their appearance, is a knitter!
Knitting is a soulful craft, it isn’t a superficial one.
The next time you see a homeless guy with a back pack, ball cap, weathered, red leather skin…..think about it.
That guy could be a knitter….
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