Earlier on in April, ACED Design –a Chicago based company introduced the ‘RompHim’ to the market. As the name suggests, it’s a remake of the traditional romper. The romper, a short-sleeved button-up shirt combined at the waist with shorts is by all means a gender fluid piece of clothing- however, it is usually worn by women.
The name I suppose was given so as to have some abstract calming effect on male fragility for people who were ready to classify it as a female only piece. The internet nevertheless, still reacted with a mixture of the most canny, homophobic and sexist remarks. Resulting in my timelines being flooded with endless memes poking fun at men who chose to wear it. I even saw a group photo shopped picture of local politicians in their “RompHims”.
Wearing it as a fashion statement was inexcusable for most people. Most memes across the internet sphere signaled that those who chose to wear it were either gay or somehow less of a man. There was no room for anything in between or for anyone who had a varying fashion tastes other than for hyper masculine fashions. I came across too of a Facebook friend of mine stating that the RompHim’s introduction to the market was a part of some conspiracy theory to spread queerness. Claiming that its viral power was very tactical and we should be concerned as to not fall prey to the gay loop.
I wondered if this RompHim trend would manage to be a bandwagon movement in Guyana. Guyanese have always adopted fashion trends regardless of their practicality. Winter boots in the sweltering temperatures are a testament to this. But, in a place where hyper masculinity is adored and anything less is despised, I figure the Romphin may prove difficult to attract buyers.
This is a whole other cup of tea. I, like many other Guyanese was raised in an environment where as a heterosexual you were conditioned to believe that you were a superior being when compared to those of the LBGT community. Openly having queer or trans friends placed you in a stigmatized box even if you weren’t gay and the mere association with anyone within the community was said to cause some “blitz on yah life”. Consciously and unconsciously homophobia raised its ugly head and ingrained itself within our culture. So much so, that basic human rights for the community is almost a myth. The current reality of the homosexual and cross dressing laws aids too in highlighting this and allowing us to classify ourselves as differing human beings in some sort of caste system. Therefore identifying with any fashion that raises any suspicion of your sexuality can be seen as a risk which not many would not want to take.
Personally, I like the RompHim. I’m generally tired of men having access to only a certain amount of basic styles. I think it’s unfair and boring to put it mildly. But apart from that, the cultural significance is even more appeasing for fashion and the LBGT community at large. It’s a chance to see that clothes don’t necessarily signal your sexuality in addition to seeing sexuality as an unimportant issue (because it really isn’t anyone’s business). Plus, it’s about time we stop saying nonsense like real men wear pink to sneakily prove their straightness. However, even with the referendum that is supposed to be held so that the general public can decide on whether or not homosexuality should be legal in Guyana it seems that idea of accepting a gender fluid society is a far cry from reality. Which brings me to another question.
Would a man in a RompHim in Guyana considered to be breaking the law? How would the police force regulate which RompHims are too close/snug on the body and could be considered as cross dressing? Will they be waking around with tape measures measuring every guy in a RompHim?
Truth is, the idea of these questions are just as ridiculous just as the thought that people choose their sexuality, clothing determines sexuality and allowing a referendum to determine human rights of a marginalized group of people.
Last time I checked we were in 2017.