I’m having a little trouble with this one because I always try to check my intentions before putting something out there. It’s always my hope to engage in discussion or debate that is reasoned and thoughtful. I’m not big on nanny nanny poo poo. Ok, I love nanny nanny poo poo, but really, there’s a time and place.
The other day, completely by accident, I came across a discussion or more of a rant between two older men, that I probably should have backed out of. There are some people that aren’t interested in reason and certainly would never see a face of some innocent kid and realize that was who they were slamming. Or they just wouldn’t care.
They were stopped in front of a poster with information about support for gay teens. The first man raised his eyebrow and made a sound that I could only describe as harrumph. He looked around for approval and got it in the form of another older gentleman who shook his head back and forth in disapproval. For a moment I got excited thinking he was going to set man #1 straight but no, hopes dashed.
I listened as they spoke about a time when you could put your kid over your knee and not have the police show up at your door. Man #2 nodded in agreement and then pointed at the poster. After letting a slur or two loose he stated this sissy stuff. In my day you shook it off. There was no fancy dancing or pussy footing around feelings. They followed it up with a comment regarding men being men and women being women and after giving the old wink and a handshake they went their separate ways.
My initial instinct was to insert myself into the conversation. It was to tell them about a very brave kid I know who came out to his friends and about his wonderful friends who supported him and assured him that they were his friends no matter who he was attracted to. I wanted to tell these old nasty men about this great kid that I knew and all of the positive things he had going on in his life and then thought about how calling them old nasty men was lowering myself to their level and really what could I say to them to make them see a person who was flesh and bones and feelings and a heart, a beautiful heart.
Names do hurt no matter how many times anyone wants to throw out the old sticks and stones adage. There’s only so much shrugging it off a person can do and why should someone who is gay have to shrug off being bullied or called gay slurs? Why do we talk about tolerance as if being gay is something that can be controlled like bad behaviors?
I love a kid who is gay and when he is at my house the last thing I think about is his sexual orientation. I think about how lucky my kid is to have a friend who is kind and sweet and caring and loyal and artistic and an all around great person. He isn’t perfect and I’m not trying to make a case for him becoming a saint. He’s a normal kid who deserves to be treated like the rest of the normal kids I know. Being gay doesn’t make him abnormal and it’s not something I or anyone else has to tolerate.
Hearing that conversation between those two nasty men angered me at first but then I had to do some of my own sucking up. They are from a very different generation and while that is not an excuse, I get that not everyone from their generation has evolved. They did come from a time in which gender was clearly defined and sexuality was too. Thinking about it more as a pattern of thinking that was ingrained made me more inclined to be tolerant and accepting of them though I did suppress a laugh at what they would think about me using tolerance and acceptance regarding them.
We still have a way to go when it comes to equality for our LGBT community and it is a fight worth fighting. But there are times where more flies are caught with honey than vinegar and maybe by knowing a kid like I know who has a beautiful heart and just happens to also be gay. I’d like to believe that those two men are stuck in their ways and their thought processes but maybe if they knew this kid it would put a real face to their comments and they’d soften a bit and with that softening would come change and just maybe we’d be one step closer to equality for all.