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Stereotypes at
the Rite Aid

Stereotypes at
the Rite Aid


On the first summery day of the year, our teen diarist goes to buy a soda and finds a wealth of stereotypes washing over him. Is it something he wore?

The author is a junior at Notre Dame Academy, a private Catholic high school in Middleburg, Va., and the founder of the Virginia LGBT activist group Equality Fauquier-Culpeper.

Today was the first day I felt that summer had spun down my spine, boiling every tear of sweat. My black hemp necklace made a niche around my neck. Sterling silver rings with Celtic designs reflected the setting sun, blinding the store display windows. I was decked out in a pair of black jeans with a navy-blue shirt imprinted with white arched words: Fauquier County Fire & Rescue. I would wear this shirt during 12-hour night shifts at Company 6 in Warrenton--I got my Virginia EMT-B certification last summer.

I passed by a group of Hispanic teenagers smoking Marlboro Reds, making every disregard as I walked by them on the street. I picked up my pace as one of them blew smoke in my face and the boy with the red hat stared directly at me, shouting something in what sounded like an exotic form of Spanish--probably a snide remark.

I ran into Rite Aid to buy a drink for my friend Allie. The clerk leaned down: "I have a kind of weird question," she said in a whisper with a thick Southern accent as her manager walked out of the store to smoke. "Now, I know who you are--I've seen ya in the papers--but," she laughed a little, "do you smoke weed?"

I kind of stopped for a second, squinting my eyes as I put a dollar bill on the counter. I looked at the window behind the clerk, where I saw my reflection. I looked at my T-shirt, under which I wore a long-sleeve black shirt with holes, my rings, my hemp necklace, my black beanie, and my tired unshaven face. "No, I don't."

The clerk smiled slightly and started ranting about how her friend was caught smoking marijuana and had to go take a drug test soon.

Everything is based upon stereotypes these days, intentionally or not. Among the smallest rant is the notable: our addictions, our advances in technology, the ability to maintain life while stopping a patient's heart on the operating table, but not the ability to grant equality to all citizens. We lack the ability to come together as one human family regardless of differences--by counting our blessings, our organizational ability, our political muscle, our economic diversity, our love, life, and family. For all I know, the boy with the red hat could have been saying, "Nice shirt."

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff & Wayne Brady

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