Chapped Lips

Peace Corps / Sunday, July 29th, 2012

There’s a cultural difference in Ukraine I don’t fully understand and it was only recently I saw it firsthand. This past week at camp, my lips were chapped after standing in a field all day teaching baseball to the kids. It happens. It’s dry. My seemingly natural reaction is to put on some Chapstick. I don’t travel without it after I took my motorcycle journey back in the summer of 2012. Lips get dry and they hurt. Chapstick fixes this.

However, in Ukraine, if a guy wears Chapstick, it’s assumed that he’s gay. I’d heard people tell me about this but I never experienced it firsthand. At camp, however, some of the boys were around me as I applied a coat of it to soothe my lips and the instant response from Vladim was, “Danny, you gay?” I was stunned that they were so blunt about it. I tried to explain that my lips were chapped and that just what you do but they moved on.

Would you look at a person applying Chapstick and try to decide their sexual orientation? Is this not only a Ukrainian stereotype and someone just forgot to mention that only gay guys wear Chapstick to me? Enlighten me.

2 Replies to “Chapped Lips”

  1. I’m gay and I hate chapstick. But then I am from Swedish ancestory…I’ll do lipstick, but not too red. My girlfriend, who descends from the English line is never without chapstick, but hates lipstick. Our biggest issue is when HER chapstick ends up in the dryer. Not nice!

    What about Carmex? is that orientation neutral?

    1. From what I understand about Ukraine, not being a native and just experiencing the culture over the past two years, anything applied to a guys lips seems to place him in the gay category whether it’s true or not.

      Had I been less drained by the sun and more prepared for the kid’s reaction, I would have tried to explain to him that wearing chapstick, or Carmex, is completely normal among all Americans.

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