gay rights

All posts tagged gay rights

Quit Complicating Your Kids’ Questions About Gender and Sexuality

Published April 6, 2016 by April Fox

Every time legislation is passed that has anything to do with civil rights, things like being allowed to marry or use the bathroom in peace or whatever, people start using children as proxies for their fear and lack of understanding. It spreads like a rash across social media, this epidemic of made-up conversations kids are having with the adults in their lives and the resulting deep and moving concern about what to tell the children. “What am I supposed to say when little Khloweei asks about the gay couple in the produce section? How am I supposed to explain transsexuals in the bathroom? My child is too young to be talking about sex!”

Spoiler alert, in case you don’t want to read this whole super-long thing: You don’t have to talk about sex. It isn’t about sex, even. Not at all. I know, it’s shocking, what with the gays and the trannies humping each other all over the bus stop and the amusement parks and shit like that. I know they look like normal people doing normal things with their normal lives, but underneath, totally humping, willy-nilly everywhere.

But really, I’m sorry if you’re confused about how to address your kids’ questions. I’m not belittling that, at all. My kids have asked some things that have made me wish for a time machine so that I could go back and hide in the bathroom five minutes before they decided to ask. Kids ask some intense questions, and some very serious questions, and those should without a doubt be answered. But. (You know me, there’s always a but.)

Here’s what’s really important to remember: children don’t think like adults.

To a small child, everything is new and different. They don’t have decades of experience and context to which they can relate their everyday lives and observations, like we do. Their points of reference are self-centered. I don’t mean that in the negative way it’s often used, but literally: their experience centers around themselves.

And so when you’re standing at a crosswalk beside two men holding hands, you’re taking in everything: They’re adults. They’re smiling at each other, leaning into each other, laughing quietly. One has a take-out box from that fancy candle-lit restaurant up the street; clearly, they’re on a date, and if they only got one box for leftovers, they must be going home together. One man has a bottle of wine tucked into his elbow. They’re going home to drink wine. It’s going to be romantic. They’ll probably end up having sex. That’s what’s running through your head when your child says, “Mommy, why are those boys holding hands?”

You know what’s going through your kid’s head, most likely? Why do those boys have to hold hands to cross the street? They’re grown-ups. Grown-ups can go by themselves. That’s weird.¬† So how do you answer that question? Try something like, “Sometimes people hold hands when they like each other. I guess they must like each other.” Chances are, your kid is going to give you a really insightful response, probably something along the lines of, “Oh. Look, there’s a squashed caterpillar on the sidewalk. Can I touch it?”

When your child asks why Auntie has a girlfriend, he’s probably not wondering why she prefers women to men. It’s probably just the same question kids ask roughly eleven million times a day: Why? Why are my socks blue? Why is that spaghetti? Why is that lady’s butt so big? Why can’t I touch that squashed caterpillar? Why does Auntie have a girlfriend?

And just like above, it’s a pretty simple answer: “They must like each other.”

If your child is old enough that he’s beginning to understand what kind of relationships are more common than others and to notice when things look a little different than what he’s used to, and his question really is about why Auntie likes girls and not boys, that’s an easy answer too: “Some girls like other girls.” If they ask for more, you can give that information without making everything about sex. I’m pretty sure when your kid asked you why you and Daddy got married, for example, you didn’t say, “Well, Snugglemuffin, we just wanted to make sure your daddy would be able to stick his pecker in me every night for the rest of his life.” You probably talked about love and happiness and friendship — and those are the same things you talk about when you’re talking about Auntie and her girlfriend. Easy peasy, man. You don’t even have to learn anything new.

Of course, the big thing now is transgender. Everybody’s freaking out about the transgenders in the bathrooms and Oh…my… Gawwwwwwd what if my precious little snowflake Mhaddisynne Claire goes in the bathroom and sees a person who looks like a man in a dress? WHAT DO I TELL HER?”

Well first off, tell her potty time is privacy time, which is what you should have been telling her since she was old enough to start having a decent grasp of receptive language.

If it does come up, if your little one sees someone with masculine-appearing features in traditionally feminine clothing and says (at the top of her lungs, at that piercing pitch children only hit when they’re saying something that makes you want to crawl into the toilet and die) “Why is that man wearing a dress?” what the heck do you say?

I’ll tell you. If that happens, then you go, like, “That’s a lady.”

And then if your kid is like, “That looks like a man,” then you go, “People look all different ways. She’s just trying to use the restroom, like you are. Go wash your hands. Go. Use soap. Not that much soap.” (Because that’s how bathroom conversations always end, I don’t care if there’s a band of Civil War reenacting drag queens in there, you’re going to say the soap thing. And also, you really don’t know, do you? Unless you’re the weirdo peeking up her skirt, you don’t know that that lady isn’t a biological woman with stronger features than most.)

I’m not saying not to have conversations about gender and sexuality with your kids. These are issues they’re going to face, if not personally, than as witnesses as their family and friends deal with them. But it’s ridiculous to think these conversations have to center around what people do in their private bedrooms or wardrobes. If you wouldn’t talk about the sex lives or genitalia of straight, cisgendered people, then it’s not appropriate conversation-period. As your child gets older, your conversations can become more comprehensive, but when your child is small, your answers about sexuality and gender should be as simple and gentle as conversations about love and death and anything else that you have a responsibility to explain. Don’t complicate it. Teach love, compassion, respect and inclusion, and your simple answers will grow into understanding soon enough.

 

 

A Love Letter to Pat Robertson

Published August 1, 2015 by April Fox

The lights are on in your great glass house
but there’s nothing there to see.

Your eyes are glued to the man next door,
face pressed against his window in a gruesome caricature,
bulging against the panes, lashes wet with lust and your palms
nailed tight
to the cross
you wear like a brace
to straighten out
your prejudice

and the holes bleed out, slick sweat and muddy feet and the ones below
are drinking
from the filthy wounds
like turning vomit
into wine.

You are the keeper of everything;
you are the arbiter of every
sinful thrust

and your disciples gather close and wait
for the baptism to start.

IMG_8200

On Being Open-Minded, and the Freedom of Belief

Published July 17, 2015 by April Fox

If you’ve been here before, you probably know that I have some pretty strong feelings about equal rights, and people attempting to hide their hate behind their religion, and people using their beliefs as some kind of free pass to treat people as horribly as they want to without repercussion. Any time I try to make a valid, logical point about those things, I get hit with the intolerance spiel: “I thought you were supposed to be open-minded. What happened to not judging other people? You need to respect everyone’s beliefs.”

We are tangled up in here: confusing the idea of being open-minded with the act of being complacent, which sounds a bit like an oxymoron in itself.

Fact: action and belief are two very different things, and being open-minded doesn’t preclude you from finding fault in things that are harmful.

Your right to believe in something does not negate others’ right to exist with the same rights and standard of living that you have. If you act in a negative manner based on your beliefs, there is nothing closed-minded about those who tell you to stop it.

It doesn’t matter what you believe; if you are doing something that hurts someone, you need to be told to stop.

When a person who identifies as Christian is molesting children, and people say that it’s wrong, when we are horrified and angry at his actions, we are not attacking his beliefs. We are not persecuting him for being Christian. We are not even vilifying him for believing that his victims look more like sex toys than human beings. We are observing his actions and we are judging him for them. That’s okay. That’s how society works, in theory. We protect those among us who can’t protect themselves. We don’t protect those who are doing the hurting because of the internal dialogue that drives their motivation, whether that be the voice of God or Jesus or the son of Sam. We judge: we make the determination about whether what someone is doing is right or wrong.

When your beliefs tell you that someone is less than you are because of their color or race or sexuality, their gender or their eye color or their socioeconomic status or anything else that they cannot control, you are allowed to hold that belief. Belief is an internal thing. You can believe anything you want. You can believe that the world is flat, or that the moon is made of dank goat cheese, or that the ghost of Bea Arthur* wants you to paint your cat’s toenails chartreuse every other Thursday after giving him a bubble bath in the sink. But see, if you put your cat in the bath and then try to get anywhere near him with that nail polish, chances are–unless you have a really strange cat, which is totally cool–that you are going to come out of that situation with quite a bit less blood inside your body than you had before you started, and your cat will be quite traumatized. That’s a consequence of your action. If you just believe that your cat would look fine in chartreuse but realize that your taste is probably not the same as his, and that he likely doesn’t share your affinity for bubble baths no matter how fresh and clean he might smell afterwards, and you realize that washing and painting your cat would be a total dick move, you are likely to stay intact and your cat will continue to do his cat things happily and at peace.

That is what tolerance is about. That is what defines the difference between action and belief. Being open-minded isn’t going “Hell yes, let’s bathe the cat and paint his toes!” just because someone else believes it’s a good idea. Being open-minded is going, “Hey, let’s see how this belief might play out… yeah, you keep on believing that, but let’s not actually act on that, okay?” Being open-minded is accepting that other people believe that cats should be bathed and polished. It’s not going along with feline spa day just because it corresponds with someone’s belief.

And when you have two conflicting beliefs that have led to two conflicting paths of action, it is up to us as civilized human beings to look at those two paths with open minds, and to judge each one based on a very simple criterion: Is this action harmful to someone else? And if the answer to that is yes, then that is the wrong path. Not based on belief, or religion, but on compassion for our fellow human beings, and what should be a collective desire to do less harm than good. When you are causing damage to someone’s person, their ability to feel happiness, their ability to enjoy life, or their ability to embrace the same civil privileges you have, and you are doing so based on your personal belief, you are harming them, and that is wrong.

*Bea Arthur would never really do that, I don’t think.

The Sesame Street Theory of Gay Marriage Resistance, or, How the Ernie Shirt Fucks You Up

Published June 30, 2015 by April Fox
The infamous Ownie Showt

The infamous Ownie Showt

When I was very small, I loved Sesame Street. I especially loved Ernie, and I had a special Ernie shirt that I had to wear every time it came on. I would run to my room, grab the shirt, put it on and run back and park myself in front of the TV, anxiously awaiting the appearance of Oscar the Grouch, my other favorite. (Raise your hand if you’re surprised by that. Nobody? Yeah…)

And then one day, I couldn’t find it. I remember screaming my little blonde head off; I had to have my “Ownie Showt,” as I pronounced it, with my weird three-year-old lisp. I couldn’t watch Sesame Street without it. I don’t remember how that played out, whether my mom found it and saved the day, or I screamed myself to sleep and missed the show, or realized the warped logic of my position and watched the show in my Hollie Hobbie jammies instead. What I remember is the desperation that I felt, realizing that a tradition I felt tied to was being threatened. I was not a stupid child; at the time of the Great Ownie Showt Meltdown I was probably starting to read, and if you believe my mother, was starting to spell words on my own. I could count to a hundred in English and Spanish, and I knew how to charm my grandpa into sharing his fiber cereal that I swore was tasty delicious dog food. But it fell far beyond my grasp, the idea that I could enjoy Sesame Street without that stupid shirt. That, I just couldn’t understand, at least not in that moment.

I was thinking about that today, reading the usual Facebook posts by people who have been rendered mortally twitchy by the fact that *gasp* gay marriage is now legal in the United States. They are clinging fiercely to their ideas about faith and the Bible as they pertain to legal marriage, and the problem is, those things aren’t pertinent at all. We’re all out there throwing Bible verses at each other; we sound like a bunch of adolescent cretins on some broken-down playground, flinging insults:

Gay abomination verse!

Oh yeah? Well mixed fabrics verse, man! Touching a chick on her period verse, huh? What about that?

Shiiiiit, God said! Old Testament, fucker!

Eating shellfish verse, dipshit! I’ll kick your ass!

YOUR MOM!

It’s pretty stupid, debating the fine points of Biblical dissent when it’s entirely irrelevant to the issue at hand. And we can use all the logic in the world, pointing out again and again things like separation of church and state, and that this decision only applies to the ability to obtain a legal marriage license, and has nothing to do with church weddings, but still, in their minds, marriage is a religious thing. They can’t separate that idea from the larger concept of human rights and legal equality.

Marriage is their Sesame Street, and the Bible is their Ownie Showt. You just can’t have one without the other, and if you try and take the Ownie Showt away, you’re going to have a very pissed off group of people who are missing the substance of the show because they can’t stop screaming out their rage at what they think they’ve lost.

What they’re missing is that legal marriage is a contract, like you enter into when you buy a home or start a new job. It gives you responsibility for another human being. Granted, it is “just a piece of paper” and it has no bearing on the quality of a relationship or the strength of the love of the parties involved, but it’s one of those necessary evils. It is the legal force that says that you can sit by your partner when he or she is lying comatose in the ICU. It is the legal document that says you trust the person on the other end to know when it’s time to pull the plug. It gives you equal rights to all the boring shit like property and taxes that you acquire. Right or wrong, whether you scoff at the made-up romanticism of it or not, marriage is a cultural milestone in the US. To many people, it’s seen as the ultimate show of love and commitment. For some folks, that means having a church wedding after getting the marriage license. For some folks, it doesn’t, and that’s where we’re getting fucked up.

You don’t have to have a church wedding. You don’t have to have your union blessed by a member of the Christian clergy. Not all marriages are Christian ones-and not all Christians disagree with gay marriage.

When you go to get your marriage license, they ask for your name and your age and legal proof of identity. They don’t ask how often you go to church or if you can name and summarize at least ten episodes of Highway to Heaven. It’s a process that’s simpler than registering your vehicle, takes much less time than obtaining a drivers license (and requires pretty much the same information), and is no more religious than signing a lease. Whatever religious aspects you choose to apply to your wedding and your marriage are completely up to you-those aren’t legislated at all, other than within the loose guidelines each state has pertaining to officiants, and in every state, you can be married by a judge, magistrate, or justice of the peace. You don’t have to have a sermon at your wedding. You don’t have to pray to the Christian God. You can be Jewish or atheist or Muslim or Pagan or Buddhist or pantheist or any number of theism-related titles and still get legally married in the United States. So why should a narrow tenet of Christianity apply to every marriage? It shouldn’t.

For a long time, people just kind of accepted the Christian church-based version of marriage. As our world expands and we’re exposed to others with different beliefs, that tradition has changed, and many people are more understanding that legal marriage and a church wedding are not the same thing.

Legal marriage equality doesn’t change the church’s role in marriage, at all. Nobody is going to force a resistant clergy member to perform a gay marriage, but think about it-why would anyone want to get married by someone who doesn’t want to perform the ceremony in the first place? That’s totally illogical. When I got married, there’s no way I would have chosen a Baptist minister or a Catholic priest to perform the ceremony. We had an interfaith minister, who also officiates gay weddings, and there wasn’t a single mention of God in the ceremony. You can do that. A gay couple won’t go to an anti-gay minister any more than an anti-gay couple would choose a flaming gay officiant. Use your brains, people.

Change is scary. We need our traditions to cling to, even when those traditions fly in the face of rational thought. Hold on to your Ownie Showt when you need your God to provide comfort during a dark time, or when you seek fellowship with others who share the same beliefs. Wear it every day, sleep in it if you need to, if you need that security to keep you going after something breaks your heart. Use it as a touchstone: What would Ernie do? But don’t cling to it so fiercely that you scream yourself into darkness and miss the entire show, because I promise, it’s one that’s as full of love and hope and faith and commitment as the one you’re used to watching. There are just a few extra characters you need to get to know.

Pat Robertson on Anal Sex: Christians Will Like It

Published June 28, 2015 by April Fox

An article posted on Huffington Post a couple months ago indicates that Pat Robertson might not be as torn up (heh) as you might think about the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling.

In an interesting case of foreshadowing, Robertson claimed that “You’re gonna say that you like anal sex, you like oral sex… Sooner or later, you’re going to have to conform your religious beliefs to… homosexuality.” That’s right, God is going to make you gay, and he’s going to make you like it. In the article, Robertson also expressed interest in bestiality, although he declined to cite any biblical passages to back up his interest. In case he’s reading this, I’ll share this verse, which he’s welcome to use in order to defend his position when he’s caught in flagrante delicto getting freaky with his livestock: “There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses.” -Ezekiel 23:20.

It sounds as if Mr. Robertson is preparing his fan base for the inevitable: he, and all of his followers, are going to catch the gay. You know, I always thought the guy was an idiot, but this is a pretty solid coming out strategy.

Good for you, Pat. Two snaps up.

IMG_8200

Amendment One

Published May 9, 2012 by April Fox

i feel as if
amendment one
is being read by the light of a bulb
shining through the skins
of my family, friends-
my children.

how can you cry your careful,
scripted tears over the loss of a life
not yet started
and tell the child before you
that his life means less than yours?

pro-life, and yet you spit
your prejudice and bile into the faces of your neighbors
fight to take away
their right to life

how easy is it for you to waste your righteous hours
combing through the verses in your book
tossing bits and pieces into piles by the side
over here are things that we’ll ignore
over here is where we make the condemnation pile

you gossip in the grocery aisles
while you shop for pork and tampons
maybe lobster for the anniversary of when you stopped
fucking behind the back
of the god that you adore

dip your razor in the baptismal pool
round the edges of your beard
shave your scalp clean
watch your faith fall to the floor

wine-drunk in the mornings
cannibalizing christ and if his body was inside you
you would see where you are wrong.

slave-owner, whore
if i were bible-bound like you
i could whip you while you cleaned my floors
then sell you for your meat
so your body could be violated
like your conscience must have been.

Why I Voted Against Amendment One

Published May 8, 2012 by April Fox

This is what my life looks like:

I am an adult heterosexual female. I live with an adult heterosexual male. We have expressed, both verbally and through the way we live, our commitment to each other. We each wear a ring that symbolizes that commitment. We share responsibilities: grocery shopping, bills, housework-though I will say that the housework sharing could use a little work. When I go off to my other job, the man that I live with cares for my children. He cooks dinner, makes sure medicine is dispensed on time, tends to cuts and scrapes and hurt feelings, gets them to necessary appointments. When the boys had a friend over and were immersed in a video game, he noticed that my daughter seemed to be feeling lonely, so he sat and kept her company while she watched her silly tween-girl Disney programs-not exactly prime viewing for a Star Trek-obsessed musician, but he made sure she had someone to hang out with. He’s never been an athlete, but when my son wanted to go to the baseball field and practice today, they went together, biking there and then stopping for ice cream on the way back. On my first day at a new job recently, he surprised me at work with the kids, and they took me out to lunch.

We watch movies with the kids, go to the park and the playground, take our little dog hiking, have cookouts and birthday parties and family meetings about chores. My children are lucky: they have a mother who loves them, a father who loves them, AND significant adults in their parents’ respective lives who love them.

A marriage license in our county costs $60. That’s not a lot of money for some people, but for us it’s a week’s worth of gas-a month and a half of dance lessons for baby girl-a rare meal out for all of us-new shoes for the boys… it’s not money that we have to spare. We choose to spend that money on things that we need, rather than a piece of paper that says we’re married. I’m opposed to legal marriage for reasons other than the cost: the fact that my gay friends are denied that right makes me reluctant to take advantage of it, and our government is so corrupt in so many other ways, I have no desire whatsoever to seek their approval of my relationship.

If passed, Amendment One would make it impossible for my children to get health insurance under my partner’s plan, if he got a job that offered it. That would mean they’d either have to stay on the state plan, costing taxpayers money, or they’d go uncovered. If something happened to him and he was in the hospital with visitation restricted to family only, the children he cares for and loves like his own wouldn’t be able to visit. If I became incapacitated and a decision had to be made about ending my life or keeping me alive via machine, that burden would be placed on my older two children, who are barely adults. I can’t imagine having to make that decision for my mother now, much less at age 18 or 20. The person to whom I am closest, who knows me better than anyone else, would have no legal right to ensure that my wishes were followed-he wouldn’t even be allowed in to say goodbye, under Amendment One. Those rights would only be offered to people who are legally married, and to the children of those unions.

Let’s look at some hypothetical situations: A woman is married to an abusive man who cheats on her and leaves her for another woman, but will not sign divorce papers. Some time later, the woman is in a healthy relationship with a man who treats her well. The woman is in an accident and is hospitalized in critical condition-only family are allowed to visit. Supporters of Amendment One believe it’s okay that the woman’s estranged and abusive husband could visit her-but the man who cares for her could not.

A child is raised from infancy by a man who acts as his father, in every way. The child calls the man “Dad” and has no contact with his biological father. Supporters of Amendment One don’t believe that that child has a right to say goodbye to the only father he’s ever known on his hospital deathbed.

A woman becomes terminally ill. Supporters of Amendment One believe that her parents, who cursed at her and threw her out of their home when she revealed that the name of the person she loved was Ann, not Adam, should be allowed to visit her and make end-of-life decisions, but Ann, with whom she has lived and been in love for 15 years, should not.

Supporters of Amendment One believe that children are only entitled to healthcare if their parents are legally married.

Supporters of Amendment One believe that a $60 piece of paper means more than the way a couple cares for each other.

Supporters of Amendment One believe that my friends, a gay couple who have been together for 13 years, don’t deserve the right to marry-but that the heterosexual barhop and the abusive crackhead with whom she hooked up and drunkenly agreed to marry two days ago, after he beat her and threatened to kill her dog, do.

Supporters of Amendment One believe that their religious beliefs trump the civil rights of anyone who doesn’t believe as they do, and that the lives of those who are different not in thought or in action but by virtue of an inherent trait that they cannot control are worth less than their own.

Supporters of Amendment One remind me a whole lot of a puny little asshole named Adolf, and that is why I voted against it, and will continue to fight similar legislation until we defeat this bigotry, ignorance and hate.

 

%d bloggers like this: