March 8, 2012

If It Were Their Son

Over the years, I have been fairly outspoken about gays, lesbians and their rights to marriage.  And at one point, I thought I had said everything I needed to say in this post, Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Since then, I have not written much about the topic here, although anyone who follows me on Twitter and Facebook knows I am still vocal on the topic. However, something keeps coming up which pokes at the blogger in me.

It is the part where a person's homophobia is defended by throwing in the bit "Oh, I'm sure if one of their children were gay, they would come to accept it." As if it provides a mitigating factor and all should be forgiven.  Oh sure, Henry the Homophobe hates the gays right now, but he can turn on a dime if it suits his purposes. See! Henry's a nice guy after all!  To be sure I suppose one could argue that it would seem our society has come such great strides if, in this day and age, parents are so quick to accept their child's homosexual status. It was not that long ago when there was a time that children were disowned if they came out of the closet to their parents.

Except, herein lies the rub: the person's homophobia continues unchecked until they they are personally touched by it.

Am I the only one who sees the hypocrisy in that?

Yes, it is true that when a stereotype becomes an actual presence in someone's life, often those prejudices and hatreds go away, but why does it actually have to have enter one's life before it goes away?  Is it not enough that all the gays and lesbians fighting for equal rights are already sons and daughters to other people?

Change does not just "happen" in a vacuum, it is actively made by our words and our actions.  It is not enough to simply sit and around wait until a situation personally affects our lives before we take a stand.

I have always told my children they can marry who they love, without definition. As such, when our neighbors Ken and Evan moved next door to us last fall, my children did not blink an eye.  What my children do not realize is that our neighbors are denied many basic rights that my own husband and I freely enjoy -- the right to inheritance, the right to share a tax status, the right to family insurance, the right to adopt a child together,  the right to share a name without cumbersome legal hassles. I have not begun to explain all of this to my children since I just want them to take it for granted that marriages can come in a variety of combinations. For now, anyway. Admittedly, I am reasonably hopeful (and confident) the technicalities that limit my neighbors' marriage will be moot by the time my children are even able to fully comprehend the intricate legal and emotional subtleties of marriage.  The qualities that truly make it a special institution in our country.  The very institution in which any legal, tax-paying adult in our country should have the right to partake.

Yes, it is true that I was not personally touched by gay marriage until last fall.  However, I was not silent before Ken, Evan and their children became our neighbors and even better, our friends.

And now, I can never be silent.


Olivia said...


I'll add that that homophobe today is doing unmitigated harm to their potentially gay child and the homosexual people around them.

Moderndayhermit said...

There have been instances when people (always men) would question my son because I'd be talking about his current love of playing with his trains in my high heels, putting pony tails in his hair, the fact that he's artistic, likes pink etc. "What if he turns out gay, you'll be so upset!"

Why would I?

Why is it my business who he loves as long as he is happy and content? Male or female.

Melanie said...

Love your post.... I have had many a conversation on this topic... but I do not believe everyone who doesn't agree with me are homophobic (though I do agree there are plenty of homophobes out there too)

defined:homophobia |ˌhōməˈfōbēə|
an extreme and irrational aversion to homosexuality and homosexual people.

what has been my experience is that there still is a very real element of ignorance (which I will ALWAYS argue is the root of all prejudice and hate). I STILL am amazed that there are people who truly and honestly believe homosexuality is a choice.... its not so much that they hate homosexuals its that they truly cannot fathom making that decision. I remember asking someone one time (a female) if she remembered when she chose to be attracted to males... I swear it was like a freaking light bulb went on in her head.... of course we don't remember making that choice, because DUH we didn't, you are attracted to who you are attracted to! What I do believe is unfortunate is that often time people do not seek out that information, they do not go fact finding until they are faced with someone they know or care about and then all of the sudden they get their education. Please don't misunderstand my comment I know homophobia is alive and well out there, but I have met/known people who truly are ignorant, and in fact ARE good people, they are not out spreading hate or trying to avoid anyone, they simply do not understand. I love how Oprah always used to quote Maya Angelou (I believe) "when you know better, you do better" .... I keep hoping that with every conversation we collectively have, we are in fact, educating.

Kristy Kumari said...

I'm not an activist on anything but I'm not silent and I don't think gayness has really touched my life so to speak. I mean, my best friend in high school had a major crush on me for years but I didn't understand it and now she still flirts (though married) and offered to fix me up before I got married myself. I have other gay friends as well. I don't tend to think of them as gay, I think of them by their name. And as far as marriage/making out and all that crap goes, I don't wan to see two straight people do that either lol. Basically I'm just anti-PDA for anything beyond hand holding or an arm around a shoulder. Though I must admit even then I used to love to fake kiss my friends in public to freak out this one (I'm now guessing) homophobic kid I went to school with. He would run every time. >:D

Unknown said...

Aw. Thanks for the mention. We have hope the as the equality begins to cascade across the US our kids won't have to deal with this and our grandchildren can look back and just shake their heads that this issue ever existed.

Kim Hosey said...

Well said. The hypocrisy is pretty unbelievable, and not at all admirable. I can't even imagine throwing in a qualifier: I'll love you anyway. I'll love you even though. What? I'll love my kid because. Because of who he chooses to love, how he loves -- who he is. There is no mitigating "even though" or having to decide about it. Just be a decent human.

You are doing well by your children, and so many others. If our kids can grow up never questioning whether to give everyone truly equal rights ... well, it's just a step. But isn't that something?