I watch Queer Eye. Unashamedly. I love it. These five queer folk, travelling around the world, building connections and changing lives. I know that it’s Netflix and it’s commercial and it’s a very sell-able show, but it’s also really captivating. Watch it if you are not yet a convert.
Anyway, t-shirts. So Karamo Brown, one of the Fab 5, is often pictured in a t-shirt with some sort of slogan on it. I often don’t know what they mean, but they intrigue me. I pause the show to google the t-shirt and I usually learn something I didn’t know.
Stacey. Kamala. Michelle. Thank You.
Trans People Belong.
Mental Health Matters.
Black people, I love you.
Black history is more than slavery.
Three words. Four words. Five words. Six words.
Is this activism?
Karamo is described on Wikipedia as a television host, reality television personality, author, actor and activist. Are wearing slogan t-shirts a form of Karamo’s activism? How deliberate is the act? Having watched all the Queer Eye shows to date, I believe it is totally deliberate. This man does not leave anything to chance. He has an image, and a well cultivated one at that. He is the ‘culture guy’ and often works with people on matters to do with belonging, identity, connection, self-esteem, relationships. He knows what he is doing. And so – for me – wearing these t-shirts is a calculated move.
I’ve looked him up. Karamo has recently launched a whole t-shirt collection. He is selling these to the public and giving 100% of the profits to charity. Is this a way of making money for the causes that he is passionate about? A way of influencing fashion? Or a way of making a point?
Whatever he is doing, it is working. For me anyway.
Karama has reminded me of my all-time favourite Billy Bragg song. The lyrics of Waiting for the Great Leap Forwards include the line: “So join the struggle while you may, the revolution is just a t-shirt away” [they also say “in a perfect world, we’d all sing in tune, but this is reality so give me some room” – but dwelling on that will take me off on a tangent and so I will return to t-shirts].
I am reminded of my youth. I am reminded of the times when I would wear slogan t-shirts. Where are they now? Where are my t-shirts?
Time to get some more.
What about you?
If you could make a point in just four, five or six words, what would it be?