Deviant Assignment: Speedo on the Beach
For my deviant assignment I decided to wear a Speedo swimsuit to the beaches along downtown Chicago. I went on a hot afternoon one weekend to ensure the most amount of people on the beaches. I didn’t have the courage to do this alone, so I went with a few friends and also made a beach day of it.
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I tried to act as normal and as nonchalant as possible as to make it seem like I thought it was perfectly acceptable to a public beach. I swam in the lake, walked along the water, and walked down the Lake Shore Drive path, all in my Speedo.
The responses I received were extremely varied. Some people yelled and made of fun of me (usually some kind of homophobic response), others gave me a dirty look, but many more just laughed. A few girls made cat calls and whistled as I walked by. One woman even asked me for a picture with her. Many people must have noticed me in a Speedo as I walked directly by them, but didn’t care or decided to ignore me.
When people called me “gay” or a “fag” I was a little taken back at first, but wearing a Speedo in public, I expected it to happen and being comfortable in my heterosexuality I didn’t let it affect me. It was much more enjoyable to hear people laugh or have a shocked look on their face as I walked by. It gave me an interesting perspective. Usually, people try to blend into how other people around them are acting and conform, but I went completely against this and it was a different experience; it felt wrong even though I wasn’t hurting anyone or causing trouble.
I think there is something satisfying about breaking social folkways. I was performing an act that many people looked down upon, but since it wasn’t actually against the law no one could force me to stop.
For the people who thought I was gay, they were in an in-group and I was in an out-group. They were straight and I was supposedly gay, and they felt their group was superior to mine, so they could harass me and call me names. These people might look at homosexuality as a discreditable stigma that is ok as long as one hides it, but because I was wearing a Speedo, it became a discredited stigma that I was no longer hiding, and this was not acceptable.
It is also interesting to think that in many cultures, a straight man wearing a Speedo to a beach is perfectly acceptable. However, xenophobic Americans would not accept this aspect of European culture and look down upon people wearing Speedos, possibly because of their own ethnocentrism.
Overall, my deviant assignment was a positive experience. Although I encountered some homophobes and xenophobes, the majority of reactions I received were playful and kind, or at least impartial to my swim wear. This shows that although some people cannot look at people from outside their own sphere, many more people can take a step back and tolerate and even enjoy what other groups and cultures bring into their environment.


References

Carl, J.D. (2010). Think sociology. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.