Thursday, January 30th, 2014
Joe DeProspero has two sons, a wife, and is complimentary birth control for anyone who sits near him in a restaurant. His writing has been described as “outrageous,” “painfully real,” and “downright humiliating.” He talks about the highs and unsettling lows of parenthood while always being entertaining and engaging in the process. Author of the dark comedy fiction novel “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt,” Joe is working on releasing a parenting humor book. He currently lives in New Jersey and can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.
It’s become a hot-button issue in America. But Disney has introduced its very first same-sex couple on their program “Good Luck Charlie.” My initial reaction was that they likely did it as a publicity stunt, as a means to attract attention and a slew of new viewers whose interest would be piqued by such a daring move. But now I think it’s something much more than that (or at least will ultimately be). I think it’s the beginning of a gradual paradigm shift in our culture, where gays and lesbians will not only be accepted in the workplace and in the public eye, but in the innocent, naïve eyes of children.
Now, I know at least some of you are gasping at such a thought. Especially if you grew up in a staunchly religious household, you might perceive homosexuality as “wrong” or “sinful” and you defiantly wouldn’t want your child to be exposed to it. And if that’s the case, I have some unfortunate news for you: Your children are going to be aware of homosexuality whether you like it or not.
The sad fact is that there will be parents who discourage or even forbid their children from watching “Good Luck Charlie,” hoping that by shielding their kids’ eyes from a gay couple that they’ll grow up to be “normal” and “straight.” Well, I have another piece of news for them. Seeing gay couples is normal in our society (unlike Sochi, which apparently has no gay couples at all). Whether you “agree” with the lifestyle or not, it is happening and your child is going to see it sooner or later. So, the better solution, from my perspective, would be to prepare yourself for that inevitable question. In fact, here’s something you can tell them…
“Honey, not all families are the same. Some have only one parent, some have two daddies, some have two mommies. You’re lucky you have two parents who love and take care of you. And SO ARE THEY.”
Leaving aside the point that being gay is a victimless lifestyle, children who have intolerant, close-minded parents will grow to be intolerant, close-minded people themselves. And the greatest disservice we can do to our kids is by instilling in them the very same blind hatred that we harbor.
Put another way, averting our child’s eyes from something we perceive as “offensive” or “inappropriate” only serves to intensify their curiosity about it. When I was 10, I was caught red-handed paging through my father’s Playboy magazine (Vanna White edition). I’d been curious about naked women for some time and was thrilled to have evidence of it right there in my very home! Unfortunately, once I got caught, those magazines were moved high up on a shelf where I couldn’t reach them. And the only thing my father told me afterwards was, “I don’t want to see you doing that again.” Surely, he was trying to do the right thing. But without so much as an explanation of why seeing a woman without clothes was “bad,” all I wanted to do was seek out more of the same. Which I did. I had a friend with a much older brother who was able to supply me with as many Playboys as I wanted. It was absolutely no big deal to him, since he was constantly surrounded by it. Eventually, it became no big deal to me, too. I still enjoyed it, mind you, but once exposed to that, nothing was unusual about it. The ironic thing about this is that same friend of mine ended up being gay. I’m sure someone will find a way to blame this on the Playboys.
Unfortunately, our country treats sexuality as obscene but violence is sensationalized on the news every night. Happy gay couples are seen as offensive yet miserable straight couples are not. It’s a sad fact we all have to navigate as parents. But if you’re asking me how I feel about my sons seeing same-sex couples on television? As long as that couple doesn’t teach my sons that hitting their father in the groin is funny, I’m completely and wholly fine with it. Besides, I’m much more offended by terrible script-writing.
Please join the conversation by adding a comment below, or by tweeting me @JoeDeProspero. If you disagree with my stance, at least have the courtesy to think before posting. Thanks for reading!
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