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Marching Orders For...
Dear Gay Parents: All of your children are faggots. Each and every one of them—straight, gay, bi, "normal," retarded, turkey-basted, test-tubed, adopted, asshole, black, Mongol—are gays, so you might as well dispense with the Stepford drag.
As a an adult gaybie (isn't that condescending?!) or "queerspawn" (doesn't that sound delicious?!), I'm so fucking sick of all you queer Uncle Toms whitewashing our experiences in hetero culture. No matter how many overcompensating Eat it to Beaver photos or righteous Rosie O'Donnell testimonials you want to lay at the feet of the Twat Police, it'll never tell the truth of our experiences and they're never gonna believe you and your children are normal because you aren't.
Here's a portrait of my family:
My gay dad was a narcissistic asshole. He ditched out on my mom (who he knocked up in what he later described to me as a coke-fueled tryst) in 1973 when I was only one. In the years following, he could barely muster enough parenthood to send the child-support check on time each month. Still, I saw him a couple times a year and got to learn a lot from the group of cool old fags he ran with. We did a lot of backpacking. Thanks, gay Dad. Sorry you died of AIDS. At least you had good fashion sense!
My mom discovered she was a dyke shortly after my dad split to enjoy his homosexual lifestyle. I'm sure she drove him to it. And vice versa! Mom was a pioneering nurse in Colorado Springs who helped open a women's health clinic that transported people across state lines to get abortions pre–Roe v. Wade. Good job, mom! It's too bad you dated abusive, alcoholic, and pill-headed dykes when I was young—but you were a great mom and at least they didn't live with us!
Just in case you think I'm the exception, my good friend John, a straight guy like me, also had a lesbo-weird family:
John's mom and dad, married at that time in the early '70s, began having a three-way with a lesbian. After a while, John's mom was digging the lesbian more than she was digging John's dad. But the lesbian was digging John's dad more than John's mom. So (pay attention now), the lesbian ended up leaving her girlfriend for John's dad, and John's mom ended up leaving John's dad for the lesbian's girlfriend. A four-way swap! Isn't that wholesome? To add to it: The divorce was deeply acrimonious. John later developed a meth problem, landed in jail, and then became an alcoholic.
None of this means that John and I don't love our parents, or that we blame their sexuality for all of our struggles, or that all gay families are fucked up. Both of us now have wives, kids, and homes. We're normal! But the complexity and history of many of our actual experiences is still buried beneath the politics of normality.
For example: Cass Bird's photographs in the June 21 issue of the Advocate in which you—white, middle-class, gay parents who love each other heterosexually— show your best Parents magazine lifestyles to demonstrate how normal you are.
Another perfect example: On May 3, 2005, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported that Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Joe Valentine announced that he was raised by lesbians. "The more he talks about his upbringing, the more he lets people see what a normal kid he was," says the Sun-Sentinel. And it's pretty hard to talk shit about a couple of carpet scarfers when they bake an all-American like that, isn't it? Valentine is as apple pie as an American boy can get: married (straight—like me!), plays professional baseball... he's normal too!
The only problem is, Joe Valentine is a faggot. Sorry Joe. Thanks for coming out about your parents, though. But don't feel bad. I'm a faggot too, and so is my straight friend John. We're all faggots. Did our parents' genital proclivities turn us into homosexuals? No. So what makes us, the grown children of queer parents, faggots? You do, gay parents!
Even if we grow up to be straight, we don't grow up to be normal. Straight kids with gay male parents inherit your campy jokes, good fashion sense, effeminate mannerisms, and sense of cultural entitlement. Straight kids with lesbian parents inherit your ability to "process" our feelings, terrible fashion sense, awareness of sexual fluidity, and sense of cultural victimization. But in all cases, we get the shame, stigma, silence, hate, and ostracism that come with our culture of homophobia and lack of civil rights. Whether or not we offer up our orifices to people of the same sex, we constantly have to play "Pronoun Rodeo" and "Pass or Come Out?" Sound like being a faggot? That's because it is.
Obviously, things have changed a lot since John's and my parents conceived us in the primordial ooze and confusion before the gay civil rights movement began in the mid-'70s. Many gays were already married with children when they came out; the histories of divorce, isolation, fear, acrimony, and abandonment like ours were part of the emotional fallout that came with the times. It would be unfair to gay parents today to ignore the fact that they and their children now have far more access to positive information about same-sex parenting and a far better chance of achieving the kind of stability and nurturing that all kids need.
Nevertheless, none of this means your families won't have plenty of the basic problems any family has. Nor does it mean that those problems won't continue to get conflated with your sexuality. And, yes, some of your children's problems will have to do with your sexuality. Right now, the gay community as a whole is under constant siege from fundamentalist religious leaders and politicians who want to send us back into the closet, or worse. And no matter how proud your children are of you (which isn't their job), they still share the enormous burden of rampant homophobia.
No matter how badly you want your children to feel accepted and loved, and no matter how desperately you want to be acknowledged as parents who care for your children as well or as much as any straight person, acting out some idea of "normal" won't change the anti-gay bigots and fundamentalist Christians. Even if you win the right to marry and basic civil protections, conformity will never end their bigotry! So stop selling that shit.
What will? Maybe your kids. By 2008, an estimated 6 to 10 million of us will be of legal voting age! That's a lot of additional pro-gay votes when you consider that the entire LGBT population in the U.S. is somewhere between 16 and 20 million. Together, we constitute a voting bloc that could cancel out the 30 million evangelicals who allegedly put George W. Bush over the top in 2004. But if you want us to join you as adults—if you want us to feel like we have a truthful place in the gay community as anything other than props—you have to stop holding us up to the media (gay and straight) as your trophies of normality. You're a bunch of faggots, and so are we. ■
Noel Black is editor and publisher of The Toilet Paper (www.toiletpaperonline.com), a monthly humor and opinion paper based in Colorado Springs. He is currently blogging thoughts and memoirs about growing up among the gays at www.toiletpaperonline.typepad.com/darksandal.