This Is How I Became a Man Who Wears Brooches

Written by | Columnists and Letters, Gay Voices, Lifestyle

Man Wearing a Brooch

Photo by Wisanu Boonrawd / Shutterstock

I’ve heard them called pins, pendants, even baubles. But generally I go with the term “brooches.” There was a time when I would have thought wearing them was the epitome of being a fussy, over-accessorized queen. But now, I think of it as a little bit of joy that I display nearly every day.

This Is How I Got My First Brooch

This began several years ago with my husband Justin. Ever on the lookout for the perfect gift, he had noted me mentioning a desire to learn how to properly tie a bow tie. Thus, come that holiday season, he presented me two lovely packages. Each contained a matched set of a patterned bow tie, colorful shoelaces and complementary pins. Much to his surprise it was the pins – little felt flowers meant to adorn a lapel – that really got me excited. I pictured myself sporting them like mid-series Carrie Bradshaw on Sex and the City.

I was eager to debut my flowers. At first I saved them for actual lapels, but it seemed a sad waste not to incorporate them into my daily attire. So occasionally, I would affix one to the corner of my breast pocket (or approximately there on shirts without such a pocket). This practice became even more common after the next holiday season, when Justin presented me a follow-up gift: a veritable garden of such buds. They came in a variety of shades that allowed me to incorporate them into an even greater number of ensembles.

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This Is How My Brooch Garden Kept Growing

Seeing how much fun they brought to my daily routine (and ever determined to outdo himself), Justin broke out the big guns another year later. These gifts were much bigger flowers. They had carefully-shaped petals and leaves — apparently crafted of the material one would find in a necktie. Some had centers that sparkled or shone like pearls. Others featured intriguing pattern combinations or gleamed with metallic accents. I was wild about them.

So I started investigating where one could purchase them on Etsy and found a store that offered a tantalizing array. I began to stock up my online cart — less with the intention of buying them than to catalogue what I had seen and liked. Periodically, I would comb through the list, eliminating choices that seemed too similar or failed to spark joy. (I had recently inhaled Netflix’s Tidying Up and was determined to “Kondo” down my selection before committing.) Suddenly I got a message from Etsy that someone else had placed one of these one-of-a-kind selections into their cart. Rather than risk losing out, I impetuously purchased the lot. And I repeated this process again a few weeks later while combing through further flowers with friends. I had soon tripled the size of my collection.

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This Is Why I Now Have “Everyday Brooches”

I wanted to wear them all the time, but the new ones felt too ostentatious for daily wear. Once again, Justin came to the rescue. He discovered where he could purchase reasonably-priced assortments of brooches that were a bit smaller but also offered fun varieties of texture and pattern. Soon, I had enough to match almost any outfit and any level of fanciness. Eventually, I sorted my collection into “everyday” and “special occasion” brooches based on their size and scintillation. Though I almost certainly had too many, this meant when I did occasionally lose one to the washing machine, I could – as they say – “let go lightly.”

In the midst of all this, I saw former Metrosource cover guy Zachary Quinto arrive on the Tony Awards red carpet, sporting quite an ornate jacket decoration of his own. When the person interviewing him asked about his “brooch,” Quinto’s eyes went wide. “Is that what we’re calling it?” he asked, evidently preferring the more masculine term “lapel pin.” I remember deciding in that moment that I would own the word brooch – whatever its gender implications. Yes, there are days I push the envelope a bit far (e.g. I have worn one with a t-shirt and shorts). And, yes, there may be people who see them and think I am the epitome of a fussy, over-accessorized queen. But I’ve carved out space for them in my dresser and my life. And if Marie Kondo ever asks me if they really spark joy, I can very honestly say: Absolutely.

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Last modified: October 1, 2019