I am soooooooo excited that the military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy about homosexual relationships was ended this weekend. I’m sure this comes as a surprise to no one because I’ve written about this before and about how I think the only thing that should be in the closet is bigotry. But some people probably wonder why this sort of thing matters to me so much. I’m not gay. I have gay friends but none of them are clamoring to enlist (and not just because we’re all too old). Why should a military personnel policy matter so much?
Simple. I’m lazy. I don’t want to have to explain homophobia to my child. Ditto racism, sexism, xenophobia, and discrimination against people with disabilities. So, all you people with prejudices? Knock it off to make it easier on all of us mothers, m’kay?
A day will come when my son asks me about relationships and who can fall in love with who. I have a great explanation all ready for that. I’m going to tell him that some boys love girls and some girls love boys and some boys love boys and some girls love girls. If he needs to know more I’ll compare it to how he and I like cookies but his Daddy doesn’t and it’s no big deal. That’s just the way people are. And as long as they’re nice people, there’s no need to get upset about who they love.
What I don’t know how to explain is that there are some people who care deeply about who likes boys or girls and that they say mean things about girls who love girls and boys who love boys. And those same people say that they aren’t as good as boys who love girls and vice versa. The reason I don’t know how to explain it is because, it its heart, it doesn’t make a lick of sense. Just like disliking a person because of the way they look doesn’t make any sense. Or disliking a person because of where they live doesn’t make any sense.
My little boy is so accepting right now. He has friends of all shapes and sizes, nice little kids who share his love of trucks and blocks. They run around the playground at his daycare, not in complete harmony but when the harmony is disturbed, it’s because someone acted wrong, not because what any of them fundamentally are is wrong. And that’s how it should be. I can explain to C that it’s ok to dislike a person who hits or kicks and it’s ok not to play with that person. But how do I explain that other kind of dislike, the kind that stems from prejudice and fear and hatred and other ugly things? I don’t know where to begin and what’s more, I don’t want to begin. It would be better if he never even needs to have that information.
The steady creep of equality for gay people is going to make my job as a mother easier by enlarging the legal framework to normalize homosexual relationships. If the law recognizes all relationships as equal, I’ll be able to explain about love and marriage without any footnotes. But I’m not naive enough to think that legal equality is going to permanently erase homophobia, just like the Civil Rights movement didn’t erase racism and the different stages of the women’s movement has never erased sexism. I am going to have to explain it all to my son and warn him against the dangers of bigotry and irrational prejudice. And it breaks my heart because why should he be saddled with the ugliness other people inflict? He’s just a little boy who was born accepting.
But at least now I’ll never have to tell him that gay people can’t be soldiers, sailors, airmen or Marines. That’s progress we can celebrate.