Tuesday, February 25, 2014

When A Shirt Is More Than Just A Shirt

I had been needing new clothes for some time now, between working to rebuild my house, and gaining a few pounds lately, many of my clothes (pants especially), were too tight, had paint on them, or were wearing out.
I had been buying some clothes with each paycheck, and then my tax refund came in. I bought for myself what I wanted, regardless of what anyone else would think of it for the first time. It was liberating at first when I bought a Pink Floyd shirt and a Sons of Anarchy "Fear the Reaper" emblem shirt, and I could walk around without a care in the world.

You see, I growing up, my mother who absorbed a lot of the superstition of the extreme Pentecostal beliefs she encountered when she converted.

There was evil hiding behind every corner, most forms of modern music were "evil", and she unfortunately even believed the "Knight's In Satan's Service" hoax. I wish I was joking. Anything that seemed remotely loud, dark or edgy was something scary to her. She was always more extreme than the churches we were in, strangely enough, but this kind of paranoia does creep into evangelical/fundamentalist world in many ways, ways that I bought into.

The "fundigelical" world is very paranoid, convinced that outsiders are after them, convinced that the rest of the world is "persecuting them", and often fear and hate groups they don't understand, LGBT people, people practicing any other religion, and well, just the outside world in general.

Ironically it was the intersection of music/media and a person of another religion that in part, helped to lead me out of fundamentalism. Today, I met with a woman who I used to know. She owned a store in my town that sold hard rock memorabilia.

At that point in my life, about 4 years ago, I was starting to question everything I had even known, and I don't know what led me in the door the first time, perhaps it was curiosity, since the store was across the street from a local government building where I was doing a student internship at, seeing that store sitting there day after day, wondering what kind of people I would find in there, running a store like that.

I never knew I would find one of the most wise, mature, loving people I would ever meet in my lifetime. Here's the kicker: She's Wiccan. Many people in the fundamentalist world mistakenly believe that Wicca = Satanism, or at least fear it as something dark and mysterious that they feel is "evil", but at this point, I wasn't trusting anything I had been told before as truth until I learned for myself. I found out that everything I had been told was a lie, and I was glad that I kept an open mind.

Unfortunately, the store closed in October 2012, and life got busy for me, and I hadn't heard from her much since then.

Recently, I looked her up on Facebook, and today, I spent several hours talking with her at her house about anything and everything, and what had happened to me recently. She had been reading my blog, so she knew some of what was going on, including The Confrontation.. She still had some of the merchandise from the store left over, and I had bought an Avenged Sevenfold and a Metallica shirt.

 Sometimes, I don't think she realizes how much of an impact she had on me at that point in my life, I said something about it, and she joked about being a "bad influence", but meeting someone like her, who was hated by the people who I grew up with, and who I was taught to hate, and realizing that everything I was told was a lie lead so many of my fundamentalist thought patterns to coming crashing down violently.

Today, when I wear a shirt like that, AC/DC, Metallica, Sons of Anarchy, etc, it feels both liberating, and defiant. It's a way of both reflecting what I like, and my way of giving a giant "fuck you" to the hate, fear and paranoia that I was raised with, it's my way of announcing that I am a different person, the hate and ignorance is no longer a part of who I am.

I am finally free.



  1. It wasn't until I was in my early 20s that I bought shirts with writing on them. I was not purposely tryign to be conservative; but my "taste" was molded by words-draw-attention-to-your-chest that I subconsciously just bought shirts without words. Sad.

  2. I didn't think of that :(

    I didn't realize how much the little things would mean to me, like being able to put the bottle of Cymbalata out there on the shelf behind my bed instead of having to hide it.

  3. Oh, now you've done it! You made me get all choked up. I'm really happy that you can finally be yourself. I'm always sending good thoughts and support your way - even when you haven't heard from me in ages! :)

  4. I got all teary, Sheldon! I'm so happy for you, mate :D <3

    Beautiful post!

  5. Free is good, my friend. Congratulations again.

  6. Great story and congratulations on breaking away from the superstition.

  7. I guess one thing I might say is that "rock and roll", being music of rebellion, IS or at least CAN BE seen as "Satanic". After all, Satan was (mythically) the ORIGINAL rebel.

    Where I might differ from these "youth ministers" and their ilk is questioning whether this is a bad thing! :)


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