A Tale Of Two Uncles

My little brother is gay.  Now, I’m not just saying this to show off my LGBT street creds, there’s an actual point to this.

Long before my brother came out of the closet, I’ve been a strong supporter of homosexual rights.  It just made sense to me.  Gay is not contageous, and I find it unlikely that gay people are going to arm themselves and take over the world.  They’re just people.

But when my brother finally made his orientation known, it did bring the entire situation a little closer to home.  You see, one day my brother may opt to settle down, hopefully if the laws permit, get married, and maybe even adopt.  As the father of two little girls myself, I know eventually I’m going to have to answer the question, “Dad, why does cousin so-and-so have two dads?”

This question, and many like it, will only grow in frequency as homosexuality becomes more and more accepted in our culure, and I think it only right to deal with it openly and honestly.  Whether you oppose or condone homosexual relationships in full, you’re not going to make them go away.

Even if the Religious Right succeeds in establishing a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, which it won’t, you’re still going to see gay couples walking down the street, doing their grocery shopping, etc.  Polling data reported upon by Chris Matthews on an episode of Hardball only backs this up.  He said that people over sixty poll in the majority against gay marriage, however people under thirdly are widely for it.

The writing on the wall is that you can’t stop gay rights forever.

As a result, whether you like it or not, as a society we must acclimate ourselves to the idea that decent homosexual families are a growing part of the American community, and with that comes questions.  Admittedly, as we as a nation are having a difficult time coming to grips with this truth, these questions start out difficult for many, but there’s no reason for them not to get easier as time goes on.

Of course, I’m not naive, and I have a vague understanding on where we are in the movement for gay rights.  In particular, it’s difficult to ignore the fact that Republicans are milking the issue for all it’s worth and then some.

In an attempt to woo a bloc that has already turned its back on him, Mitt Romney came out swinging after the Democratic debate last night, particularly in their response to how they felt about the usage of a children’s book read to second graders that was designed to teach about homosexual relationships.

Leading the way on an issue almost certain to be resurrected during the general election, Mitt Romney issued a statement this morning condemning the Democratic candidates for their refusal at last night’s debate to rule out teaching about gay issues to second-graders.

The comments, on the heels of the MoveOn.org ad controversy, are already prompting glee in Republican circles as yet more made-to-order fodder that the party and its conservatvie allies can use to paint Democrats as out of the mainstream.

Romney said that the answers proved “how out of touch the Democratic presidential candidates are with the American people.”

“Not one candidate was uncomfortable with young children learning about same-sex marriage in the second grade,” Romney notes. “This is a subject that should be left to parents, not public school teachers.”

Uh-huh.  So would this include the parents of the guys who brutalized Matthew Shephard and left him to die?  Would this also include the many parents who make up the Fred Phelps brigade?

I can see how that’s going to work out.

He was of course criticizing how the Democrats answered the question.  John Edwards led the field.

“Would you be comfortable having this story read to your children as part of their school curriculum?”

John Edwards, the first to take the question, responded, “Yes, absolutely.”

“What I want is, I want my children to understand everything about the difficulties that gay and lesbian couples are faced with every day, the discrimination that they’re faced with every single day of their lives.”

But I think Obama’s answer nails it:

Questioned next about the issue, Barack Obama said, “You know, I feel very similar to John.

“One of the things I want to communicate to my children is not to be afraid of people who are different, because there have been times in our history where I was considered different, or Bill Richardson was considered different,” Obama continued.

Again, I look at my own daughters.  With a gay uncle, they won’t necessarily be able to wait until their ready, just like many of our children.  Your kids, my kids, their kids, kids all across America are going to be going to kindergarten and seeing some of their class mates dropped off by two moms or two dads.  Do you really think they’re going to wait until high school before they finally ask, hey, wait, why don’t they have a mom and a dad?

But what really bothers me are the children in question themselves.  I suppose some would make the case that children from homosexual families should just deal with only one parent dropping them off and not talking about their home life much, but that’s not particularly fair, now is it?

And unless we as a society educate responsibly, imagine the ridicule that these children will be subjected to.  Should Mitt get his way, we’re talking about many children who will be forced to withstand ridicule not for their orientation, but for that of their parents.

But hey, way to score some political points at the expense of people who do you no harm.  In the case of the Log Cabin Republicans, you’re making political hay at their expense (though I find myself boggled by the concept of the LCR in the first place, but that’s a discussion for a different time).

Hillary Clinton again fails to impress on this one, lending even more credibility that she is so confident in her winning of the nomination that she’s shedding pretense at even nodding in the direction of the base:

“I really respect what both John and Barack said,” Clinton said.

“With respect to your individual children, that is such a matter of parental discretion.”

Way to stand up for the team, Hill.

What I think is part of the issue here is that a lot of people think that in order to have a discussion about homosexuality with children, you have to get into sex, which is ludicrous.  You don’t need to talk about sex when it comes to homosexual relationships, do you?  I mean, where the heck did the whole stork thing come from?

It’s a simple concept.  “Not everyone grows up to pair off with a member of the opposite gender.  There’s nothing wrong with that, and they are people just like you and me.”

That’s about it.

But, as I’ve said, I’m not naive.  I know this is part of the fight.  I just find it sad that we have to have it.  As for me and mine, I’m way ahead of the second grade.  There’s no question that my girls will grow up respecting the homosexual community for what it really is.

Just regular people.

5 Responses to “A Tale Of Two Uncles”

  1. Laura says:

    The public schools don’t necessarily handle these subjects well, but I think well enough; my neighbor thinks it’s all Bill Clinton’s fault for having a little extra-curricular in the oval office. She’s very concerned about “homosexual acts” being topics presented to youngsters. (I’m sure you can see the direct connection between Bill and homosexual…. nevermind… ) Anyway, I simply don’t care how these and other subjects are presented as it always makes for great dinner table conversation. My kids talk about everything and usually will have heard more from other kids than I am prepared to know about. I thought it was a little awkward when the kids went through 3rd grade and were told a little about their bodies in very simple terms and “don’t touch hypodermic needles on the playground”, was added. But I don’t think they mess with dirty needles, so it all worked out. Anyway, thanks for expounding on the issue.

  2. Didn’t you know? Bill Clinton catchin a BJ in the oval office is the reason for all our ills. It’s why 9/11 happened, it’s why gas prices have soared.

    Bill Clintons marital transgressions resulted in the Teletubbies!

    Need I say more?

  3. Oh, Brittney Spears, Paris Hilton, Lindsey Lohan… All Bill’s fault.

  4. Laura says:

    I had a daycare in my home when Teletubbies was still under the ‘radar’; then they were exposed. I guess the purple one or the one with the triangle or the one with the purse, I don’t know, but moms actually told me not to let the babies watch it anymore when they had told me previously their babies liked it. ‘ Then Bert and Ernie were up to something… Who thinks this stuff up? Well fortunately, I didn’t rely on tv to keep the babies happy so it was easy, but that was so weird.

    How fortunate all of you are to have each other. Your family sounds like it’s so grounded. I have a gay cousin, different era, very different players when he was growing up. I’m sure he has suffered immensely without family support. But growing up in Mayberry just didn’t allow for that kind of thing and he was forced to cut the ties. I think my aunt still sneaks letters to him. That’s tragic and that mindset is what we’re all hopefully working on.

    By the way, I don’t know why, but around a certain age a lot of kids go through some kind of homophobe thing. I just know my kids went through it because they’re so vocal. I think it’s around 5th-7th grade and it’s a peer thing. Anyway their empathy has expanded as they’ve matured, so they’re pretty clear that ‘the dangers of homosexuals’ are non-existent.

  5. mick says:

    Who thinks this stuff up?

    Pat Robertson, James Dobson and Bill Donohoe. As I understand it, they have exclusive rights to invent anti-gay paranoid fantasies in the north American market. I don’t know who has the foreign market rights. Ahmadinejad, possibly.

    But it’s a bogus question to begin with. 7 yrs old is kinda young to be covering gender identification issues. I mean, I taught pre-school for 12 yrs, and 5-yr-olds are just figuring out whether they’re boys or girls. Expecting them to understand differences in sexual orientation doesn’t work very well when they don’t know what sex is.

    Fifth and sixth grade – fourth at a pinch – would make a lot more sense developmentally for the reason Laura mentions: that’s the time when kids are moving into their black-and-white, right-and-wrong phase when they’re Lord of the Flies material. There’s all sorts of tolerance-related shenanigans raising their ugly heads as the kids begin to phase into puberty, and that’s a much more appropriate time to deal with civility and “people different from you aren’t monsters” stuff.

    But, of course, it wouldn’t be as startling or sensational a question, which is maybe why that’s not what the candidates were asked. They were asked about it being in “the school curriculum”. 2nd grade wasn’t mentioned. That was Mitt and it’s an old Republican trick: take a relatively innocuous question and find a way to characterize it in a sensational manner. I’m surprised he didn’t accuse them of wanting homosexuality taught in kindergartens or pre-schools. Why not the cradle? That’s what Pat would have done.

    I don’t know how you have even a marginally intelligent, nuanced conversation with somebody who doesn’t accept nuance, who sees (or, as in Mitt’s case, sells) every issue as a stark contrast between opposing but equally simple-minded slogans and deliberately uses imaginary fears to get the emotions broiling so brains will shut down. It’s a puzzle.

    But in this case, it ain’t gonna work with anybody but the 26%ers and the extreme religious right. After Ellen and Will & Grace, it just ain’t that big an issue any more. Normal people are getting used to the idea and realizing that, in fact, the world doesn’t end when gays get married or adopt kids, and it’s dawning on them that this is a tempest in a teapot. We’ve got a few years to go before they get settled enough to act on the knowledge they already have but aren’t quite ready to accept, but as sure as death and taxes, it’s coming.


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