Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Gay Used To Mean “Happy” – by Elizabeth Allen

Where do you stand on the subject of homosexuality when it comes to your kids? I suppose that mostly depends on where you stand on the subject of sexuality, yet misconceptions and prejudice still paint the concept for some as a “dark condition of our times.” There are many factors that affect how any given individual parent thinks of homosexuality and frequently those are based on religion, their upbringing, or a repressive recipe of both. There have been some who were raised by hippies or free-thinkers, but they probably make up a very small minority.

My first exposure to the “lighter side” came in 1966 when my parents took me and my brother to the movies to see West Side Story. While my father adored anything conducted by Leonard Bernstein, he shifted uncomfortably in his seat when the Jets and the Sharks started to jeté through the streets of Manhattan during the overture. “Oh Jeez, fags,” squeezed through his lips with Archie Bunker-ish irritation and he promptly left the theatre. My seven-year-old mind didn’t understand what he meant by “fags”; all I knew was I was hooked. These boys could dance and I didn’t care what they were!

I realized many years later that my father was, in fact, homophobic. Ironically, at the age of 12, my very first crush was on a young man who knew he was gay. Certainly the rejection of my love was not as devastating as Brokeback at such a tender age, but I was undeniably drawn to his humor, sensitivity, panache and unquestionable feminine edge. By 13, I was a teenage fag-hag.

My parents – who had me in their late thirties – never sat me down and explained the birds and the bees or the bees and the bees. I’m not sure whose assignment is was to enlighten me or who dropped the ball, but I figured things out on my own eventually through many trials and even more errors. Suffice to say, I will not leave my daughter’s sexual education to chance. She has all the information now—well, as much as she really needs—and short of application and practice, she will make healthy, informed decisions when she’s ready to be physically close to someone.

Do I care if she’s drawn to a woman versus a man? No, not really. Certainly those old tapes still spin in my head that she should only consider conventional pairing, but what really matters most to me is her happiness. Regardless of gender, I only care that the object of her affections is a stable, loving, gentle and kind person who gives her as much joy as she gives them.

Of course, if the object of her desires just happens to be a med student, it couldn’t hurt…

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