Since the passage of Prop 8 in California, I’ve been working hard to repeal this obviously discriminatory change in the law that makes LBGTQ people second class citizens. (I’ll tell you about a project I’m helping to launch to dent support for Prop 8 in another post.)
I sometimes throw myself into things because my gut and my passions demand it, and it isn’t clear to my brain why I feel as strongly as I do. That was the case here. Usually, there’s some underlying reason that’s not immediately evident but if I think about it carefully, it both surprises me and seems exactly right.
So why would a straight mom of a little boy be so galvanized to get involved? Where’s my dog in this fight? Is it because I’m “afraid” my son is gay?
Well, in a word, no. I’m completely indifferent as to what my child’s sexuality will be. HB seems convinced Hiro Protagonist is straight (though huz’s very gay-friendly himself). All I know is that Hiro P’s five years old. See, I believe people have fluid sexual identities that manifest around adolescence (usually). They pretty much are what they are. There are probably people who are on either ends of the spectrum in terms of being completely heterosexual and completely homosexual, but most of us are somewhere on that spectrum.
I don’t spend any time speculating what Hiro P’s sexuality is. Because whatever it is, I won’t bother to “change” it. It’s kinda none of my business, anyway, because it’s part of his journey into adulthood into realms that have nothing to do with me. Really my job is to teach him to love, which is a greater overarching principle that applies no matter the gender or genitals of who it is he’s loving.
Rather, it occurred to me that one very valuable and wonderful thing we’ve enjoyed about Hiro P’s school is its wonderfully gay-friendly quality. Do you know what this means for the boys who attend, no matter their age or ultimate sexual identity? IT MEANS THEY WILL NEVER HEAR THE WORD “F—–T” LEVELED AT THEM.
Do you know how powerful and freeing this is? No gay parents of the many children who attend would stand for it. No straight parents of the children who attend would stand for it either.
The new public school we’ll be sending Hiro Protagonist to is in a different town, one whose lovely anti-Iraq war protesters on the corner convinced me I could live there. During election season, I saw a few too many “Yes on 8″ yard signs than I preferred, but there were also a satisfying number of “No on 8″ yard signs too (among them ours). These new schools won’t be the hippietastic haven we’ve enjoyed and appreciated so much at Hiro P’s current school, but in this new community I already know some PFLAG-y parents, some gay parents, and I know there’s a gay-straight alliance group at the local high school. I know if some kid who grows up with intolerant attitudes dares use the “F—–T” word (or the “D—” word) to try to humiliate, discipline, harass, or otherwise bully another child, there’ll be a community that’ll smack that behavior down.
See, when you take away the hateful power of those epithets, you give boys breathing room to be who they are–all of it. Boys straight and gay can begin to explore all the attributes that get ascribed to “the feminine” under the seemingly binary gender system. “The feminine” is supposedly sensitive, tender, nurturing, intuitive, relationship-oriented, cooperative, gentle, concerned with beauty/aesthetics, and/or relenting (some call this passive). “The feminine” is universally denigrated, and the opposites venerated, around the world for no good reason.
You take away the word “f—–t,” and you take away some of the likelihood that a child’s fists will pound the word’s meaning into another child.
We’re all a mix of qualities, and the sooner we realize and accept that, the happier we’ll be, don’t you think?
I think it’s great the less we try to separate and label attributes according to all-too-easy binarisms. Taking away the sticks that beat children into their respective gender boxes is a good thing. Giving up on the need to sort and categorize into two all-too-easy bins is a good thing. And taking away the power of homophobic epithets is in part how we ALL get there.