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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Mommies Talk Gay

I have read quite a few blog posts from the "Mommy Blog" community lately (Yeah, I guess I count as one of those) about homosexuality in our society - be it around advocacy of gay marriage, dealing with the possibility of gay children, worrisome cross dressing tendencies in pre-school aged children and surrounding yourselves with "like-minded" people to ensure your kids don't catch that nasty bug called homosexuality, which apparently, is going around.

There are three posts which stick out to me the most, and probably represent some of the spectrum of opinions on this.

The Right Thing to Do?

My friend Sara - from Sara Plays House - wrote a great guest post over at Scarymommy (a fantastic blog by Jill Smokler) a few weeks ago, probably one which I could relate to the most. I guess its no secret from the content of some of my posts that I am left-leaning and Sara and I share many of the same views. In addition to wanting equality for homosexual members of society, she further explains why she feels so strongly, almost viscerally, in advocating for gay marriage rights. There are several reasons, but ultimately, it comes down to the following.

What if my own child is gay? How do I want and expect that this child be treated?

In the end Sara says, you should support gay rights "because it's the right thing to do."

I'll get back to that later.

Like-Mindedness . . .

Scarymommy offered a counter-argument to this post through the voice of Gretchen, aka Texan Mama, who wrote an eloquent response around her choice of role models for her own conservative, Christian family. While I appreciate her wonderful writing style and the truthfulness in which she shared her opinion, I was a bit disturbed by the following quote on why she has issues with her child having a teacher who is a lesbian.

"I want to surround them with people who are like-minded with us. I want to provide my children with positive role models who practice and support our value system."

Let's table that one for now as well.

Pretty in Pink

It's likely that you have seen the post by Nerdy Apple Bottom which went viral, spiraling her readership from a few dozen to millions of readers in a matter of days called "My Son is Gay" and explaining how she supported her son's decision to dress up as the folically gifted Daphne from Scooby Day for Halloween and the reactions it garnered as a consequence.

While there was an immense amount of support for this woman, and the way she addressed her son's choice of Halloween costumes, there was an equal amount of vitriol and criticism of her parenting, her response to the parents who criticized her and her subsequent decision to blog about it.

If you have read Masala Chica in the past, you probably know which camp I fall into . . .

Here's some masala . . .

So this is where I put it out there. Again, this goes back to my post the other day - I don't write this blog anonymously. But I think if you know me in real life, you know that I feel this way anyway. If you don't like my lack of a filter the past few days, I totally am ok with you "unliking" this little Chica on Facebook so I don't litter your Facebook feed.

It's all good.

I don't care if my kids tell me they are gay at some point in this life.

Allow me to clarify. It's not because I don't care about them or I discount the challenges that it will raise for them. It doesn't mean that I will not worry or care about that aspect of their life. I know that life will undoubtedly present a harder path for them if that is where their hearts take them, but life is challenging.

When I say I "don't care," I mean that it will not change - ever change - any aspect of my love for them.

Growing up as a minority, in a predominantly homogeneous region of New Jersey, I know what some types of challenges are. Growing up with an Indian family, much of whom live back home still in India below poverty levels, even for that country, I know of other challenges as well - some of which my own children will never know or understand.

Race. Religion. Handicaps. Poverty. And yes, sexual orientation.

People deal with challenges every day. It's what makes us INDEFINABLY us. It's what makes the people who can succeed despite challenges like these that much more special.

So how would I EXPECT the world to treat my child if my child was gay? To be honest, my expectations are low. But I know that I would embrace my own child without any hesitation - and that, as a mother is all I will allow myself to expect.

In Sara's post, she ended her post with the assessment that you should support gay rights because it is the right thing to do. While it is "right" for me, I also understand that for some people and their way of thinking, be it founded on religious ideals, a subscription to their doctrine on societal norms - that they may not embrace this as "right."

I don't agree with those people. I will most likely never be able to change their minds.

I probably would not have been able to change people's minds about desegregating schools and water fountains in the 1950s. Some society norms and "like-mindedness" have nothing to do with normalcy, morality or values.

And no I am not saying people who are against gay rights are racists too. My point is that standards within a society are not always "right." And that feelings on these lie deeper than the surface for most people, and have been built on a foundation of an individual's own "truth" that has likely been shaped over a lifetime.

The reason I had such a problem with Texan Mama's response in "On Being Gay" is her supposition that "like-mindedness" with those she surrounds her children with will support their "value system."

Why, oh WHY do I have such a problem with this?

Because "being gay" is not a value. It's not a moral code. It's a sexual orientation - one which one does not necessarily choose. Just like you can't choose to be born black or white or brown.

Blue eyed or brown eyed. Left handed versus right handed (though I know of parents who have tried to "train" their kids out of that as well)

Gay is not taught. Ask parents who have tried to "teach the gay" out of their kids.

Heck - ask Dick Cheney.

As parents, we teach our children a moral code that encompasses what we hope will shape them into amazing individuals and true contributors to this society. That code is not going to be compromised whether they are straight or gay.

I mean seriously, is one of the values you teach your children to lust after members of the opposite sex?

I guess every family is different, so maybe you are teaching them that. Who knows?

I know a**holes who are straight. I know a**holes who are gay.

As long as my kids end up on the other side of the spectrum from those a***holes, gay OR straight, we're in business on the whole values thing.

One of the most basic values that my children will have though, if I get this whole parenting thing right at some point, is honesty. If they can't embrace who they are on every level, they will never be fulfilled. And if I set them up to live a live unfulfilled, a life where they must live a lie - then I have failed them.

And I could never bear that.

The idea of supporting gay rights because of the possibility that my own children might be gay isn't why I believe in gay rights either. If my kids end up hardened criminals or thieves (if we REALLY screw up that whole value system thing again), it does not mean I will support those decisions or start a prison fund for them. I mean, I might. They are my kids. But that's different.

Because we are talking about the difference between the lack of values and what is just a state of who they are - not a decision point.

I think regardless of where my kids choose to go, with the partners they choose in life -I hope that they select a partner who can reciprocate in equal parts - love, respect, honesty, passion for life, family and each other.

That is what I care about. If my daughter ends up with a man who does not respect her or foster her desire to grow, it will devastate me. If my son ends up with a woman who does not respect him or whom he does not respect in return, I will be so saddened.

I just wish them love.

A life fulfilled.

And I am there for them every step of the way.

Note: thanks to these lovely women whose ideas I did share here today which inspired this piece. Links to each of their posts were interspersed throughout this post, but if you would like to read each, here they are again.

Sara, Sara Plays House - On Gay Marriage
Gretchen, Texan Mama - Is Gay Ok?
Nerdy Apple Bottom - My Son is Gay


20 comments: said...

Thanks for the mention and for keeping this conversation going. As usual--beautifully written.
And so right--all we want for our children is what we want for ourselves: love, honesty, respect. Not so much to ask, really, but without the proper foundation we give them as their parents, they'll never be able to find it on their own.

Anne Marie said...

Once again you captured my feelings completely! Thanks for putting them out there!

Trooper Thorn said...

Well stated M.C.
I think so many parents get upset about the prospect of their child being gay, to the point of fighting common sense by removing anything that they see as "gender confusing" its because they assume their child's sexual orientation reflects on them in some way.

If my child is gay, it has no more to do with my ability to parent that it would if they did well in math or were unable to carry a tune. Children have qualities and attributes that are uniquely their own.

We can teach and model values like love, discipline, tolerance, perseverance and intellectual capacity. Even then, there is no guarantee they adopt those ideals.

Karls said...

My sentiment exactly! I was just mulling this over in my own head not yesterday. Values like honesty and tolerance are way more important than sexual orientation. When I have children my biggest hope is that they are happy... If that involves being with someone of the opposite sex or of the same, so be it - I find it irrelevant. Provide they treat each other with love and respect, I'll be a happy woman. You go girl!

Anna See said...

I love my kids, no matter what. If they are gay, you'll see a rainbow sticker on my car in no time.

Seeker of Truth said...

Hey, Kiran. I disagree with Texan Mama on surrounding kids only with those like-minded. I think kids should have experience with various types of people (in a safe environment, of course), with guidance from the parents on what is right or wrong.

To be honest, though, I don't believe being gay or straight is genetic. So far as I know, no gay gene has been found yet while there are many home and social factors that correspond relatively well with sexual orientation.

Does that mean if my kids, when I have them, grow up and are gay that I will not love them? Certainly not. Love must be unconditional or it is not really love.

A true Christian, I think, does their best to live as Christ actually lived. If you've read the Bible, the only people you see Him harsh with are those leading the people astray and sometimes His disciples for a lack of faith despite seeing all the miracles He worked. He never came down on most people; His love was unflagging. John 8:2-11 is a great read if you have a minute.

Trooper Thorn said...

Thanks for your comment back M.C. I actually posted about this topic a week ago:

Texan Mama @ Who Put Me In Charge said...

Hey, thanks for the compliment on my writing, even though we disagree.

I just hope I can clarify that when I say I want to surround my children with people who have similar values as ours, I understand that means different things for different people. I have always taught my children to love people no matter what their differences are. I have taught them that every person is deserving of love, and that it's possible to love a person and yet not agree with them (or the choices they make.)

And, by the way, just so I'm clear, I'm not saying being gay is a choice. I am saying that choosing to participate in a gay lifestyle is a choice. Just like being a heterosexual is not a choice but choosing to engage in premarital sex is a choice, one I don't agree with either.

My point is this: we are all trying to give our children the best start we can. I am not trying to shield them from anyone, but I am hoping that people who have influence on them are people who mirror my own values.

In this way, I can guess, there are a lot of readers who would choose to not have ME be an influential person in THEIR child's life, because I probably don't reflect their values. Doesn't mean I can't meet or talk to their kids, but I'm guessing they wouldn't want me to teach values to their children.

That's what I am worried about with this teacher because, as a teacher, it is part of her job to teach values. And that concerns me.

I know my kids are growing up and making their own decisions about what's right and what's wrong, and all I was saying is that I want to try to give them a foundation that comes from my heart.

I think you do a great job discussing the subject and I appreciate a chance to share my feelings about it again.

Masala Chica said...

Sara, Karls, Anna, Trooper and Anne Marie - thanks guys for your thoughts. I think we would be first to get the rainbow decals if that day comes.

Masala Chica said...

Gretchen (Texan Mama),

Thanks for your response and thanks for clarifying as well. I appreciated your post and your opinion as well, though it was different from my own. While we disagree on some things, I think you are right in that the lines that divide us are all leading us to the common goal of trying to give our kids the best foundation on which to grow.

When I look at choices that can be made in life - I tend to think they supersede gender. Sexual promiscuity, disrespect, lack of discipline, narcissism, lack of empathy for those around them - those are area where I guarantee we both agree that there are some common values that we probably both define as being deficient.

When I was growing up and in school, there was always a certain level of curiosity I would display towards my teachers. I never really thought much about it in depth, but it made them real to me. So I would listen when Mr. Growhowski would share stories about his weekend with his wife and children - or when Mrs. Lehrhaupt would tell us about her kids and we always knew that she would be extra happy on Wednesdays, because that was her date night with her husband. I loved my teachers - loved having the context of their lives help paint a picture for me of this very real and very authentic person who was teaching me. It made me that more passionate about learning through their voices.

The teachers I connected with in some way - are the ones whose classes pulled me in.

I think that it's normal for a teacher to be asked by students about their life in passing, or for them to share some level of information. If she starts talking about anything "inappropriate," I think it's different. I would feel the same way if a heterosexual teacher was inappropriate in sharing too much.

It is also possible that our kids will be exposed to teachers who are going through a divorce. I doubt they will openly discuss it with children, but it IS possible that they may catch some glimmer of that. They might have a friend whose parent is an alcoholic. Their friend may still have the same exact values as your child - but does it mean you would stop them from being friends because of that parent's weakness?

You can shield your kids to an extent - but it's likely that the gay teacher shares many of the same values that you do, regardless of her orientation. Honesty, integrity - you know - things like that which our kids need to be exposed to

In reading your posts Gretchen, I respect that you are so passionate about your own beliefs. It's great to have conversations that don't end in venom and really are about dialogue. Thank you for so graciously continuing that.

Masala Chica said...

Seeker of Truth

Thanks for your response. Genetic science is not an area I am the conversant in, though I have a friend who has a PhD in genetics, so I should hit her up ;-)

However, none of my friends who are gay were raised by parents who were gay. They were raised in households that were fairly traditional.

If you look at what they were exposed to, and many of the common stories that I have heard - there is a thread within many of there stories that is very much the same - they tried and TRIED to not be gay - they knew what challenges were before them, they knew some of the judgement they would face - and they knew how difficult it would be to tell parents (all straight themselves) that they were gay.

I don't believe that gay is a result of nuture over nature. Ask the countless parents who internally struggle with their own children being gay and not understanding how this happened.

"Heck - we go to church every sunday!"
"He plays Football for chrissake"
"He's in a fraternity. He can't be gay."

When a child exhibits signs of homosexuality sometimes as early as 2 or 3 years of age - I don't think it has anything to do with choice.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. As a non-Christian, I am not familiar with all Scripture, but I will read John 8:2-11 tonight.

Have a good night everyone . . .


~ Lyndsay The Kitchen Witch said...

Coming out of the "Maven" closet and posting as myself to tell you I LOVED this!

"I just wish them love."

I don't think anyone else could have said it better.


Archana said...

Once again a beautifully written article. The best part about your writing is how it makes one go "Thats exactly what I wanted to say", but you say it in the best way. :)
Lending an Indian perspective, Id say its just one more. One more of those umpteen lists of things parents excpect their kids to look for in their prospective partner - state of origin, language, religion, caste, creed, financial background of the family and now theres gender too. And the worst part is how these take the front seat in order of importance instead of whether the person is able to love, understand, support and just be their in that special way for my kid,forever.
Again, just like you said it, not saying its not an important aspect (the gender), but at the end its importance should be in only 2 ways - can this person make him happy. Can their relation stand the pressure test of "society".

Annie @ astonesthrowfrominsanity said...

Archana said it well. You write beautifully and make the reader say, "That is exactly what I wanted to say!"

That said, I must say I am impressed with your article and with your commenters and readers for keeping such a dignified discussion about this topic. Nice job ladies!

As a Christian lady and and someone that has gay members of her family, I can honestly say that I am in Masala's camp. Sexual orientation,in my opinion, has no more to do with a person's values as does a person's preference for the color blue versus the color red. My favorite aunt ( a lesbian and teacher for 40 years) also had the most stable "marriage" out of any of the other members of her generation within the family. I definitely see her and her partner as role models for a love that lasted almost 40 years until the day she died.

I only wish that my children will find their partners (whatever sex they may be)to love completely and share their lives with.

I only wish for their happiness and for their love too!:)

webb said...

You've (all) said it so well. Successful marriages/partnerships are built on love and trust and respect - all values that all parents (and teachers) try to teach. Loving our children unconditionally is the important part. I keep reading that "the younger generation" - whoever that is! - is more tolerant and that the whole question of "gay marriage" will become passe' soon. That would be a good next step. Good writing!

K.R. said...

I think your opinion depends on your beliefs. I don't think anyone should be discriminated against but, I am not in agreement with legalizing gay marriage.

Once again, my opinion stems from my Christian beliefs.

I have some gay men that I am very close with. I love them like they are my brothers. Do I agree with the lifestyle? Nope. Would I agree with them getting married? Nope.

But I love them none-the-less. What we need in this world is love.

Even the bible says that you can have all of the talents in the world, but if you don't have love for your brother (friends, neighbors, family, strangers and even your enemies), those talents mean nothing.

LL Cool Joe said...

As someone who is transgender, this was nice to read.

Kelly @ Dare to be Domestic said...

First off - thank you for the sweet comment on my blog, I truly appreciate and loved it!!! oxox

I am a huge advocate for equal rights for all. This entire post brings up so many great points and I want to read it again when I'm at home and not distracted!!! Well done!

Arizona Mamma said...

This aint yo mama's mama blog!

You are by far, like leaps and bounds far, one of the most articulate bloggers I have read. And trust me, when I was a promiscuous blogger, I read my share. These days I lay low a litte more.

Anyway, back to you. This is sensational writing. I am with you 100% when it comes to loving your children no matter their sexual orientation. I also find it a very tough pill to swallow to think that sexual orientation is a choice. I suppose there are those who do simply chose it. For whatever reason. I wouldn't be shocked to learn that. Let's just say that would be an exception to the rule.

As for the surrounding yourself with like-minded people. I read Texan Mama's comment, and I say the following with the utmost respect. First, and very simply, being surrounded by homosexual people will no more make my children gay than being surrounded by left handed people will make them lefties. Second, if the "like mindedness" is just making the decision to not act on homosexuality, to make a choice if you will, to not participate in that lifestyle, would that not be the same as living a lie? In my opinion it would be like me telling my daughter that it is wrong to be a girl. That in order to live a good and moral life, she needs to live as a man. What torture would that be? Why on earth would I want to subject my child to that? In the end, I think love trumps it all. Love them for who they are. Not for who you would have them be.

Kristin said...

Beautifully written. I can only hope that my child grows up happy and matter what his sexuality is! And I will support him to my dying day...because I'm his mama!


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