LC Van Savage
The Boy, The Father, Their Future
He was one aisle over from me in that huge store. I won’t say which, or where, or when, and yet I could still see him between a separation of the displays. I really would not have noticed the man, his wife or their beautiful little boy save for the father’s loud, angry remarks directed at his child.
The boy, probably 4 or 5, for some reason was holding his arms out, palms down, and he laughed while shaking his hands rapidly, as if he were shaking water from them.
His father advanced on him, saying loudly, "For God’s sake, stop doing that. You’re creeping me out. That’s such a gay thing to do. That’s gross. That’s what gay boys do. You gay? You wanna be gay? Well, you’re gonna. That’s just so gay. Ugh! Stop it!!" The little boy stood still, bewildered, and ceased shaking his hands, evidently placating his father because he stopped shouting and continued shopping.
I wondered if the child stopped shaking his hands like that because his father was threatening him with a fate about which he knew nothing but was clearly potentially dangerous to him. But no. He stopped shaking his hands because he’d made his father angry and had no idea why, didn’t know what "gay" meant, and understood the best course was to cease doing the thing that was infuriating his parent.
So, shaking one’s hands in the air can make a person gay? Come on Dad, do your homework. Homosexuality has been proven over and again to be something with which one is born and not brought on by childhood behaviours.
Last night on the news I saw a horrifying scene of people protesting the ordination of a gay Bishop into the Episcopalian church. The signs these people carried were chilling, sickening. They said, amongst other things that, "Fags must die," and "Jesus Hates Fags," and the most stunning of all, "Thank God for 9/11." I didn’t even understand that last one. Two ladies around my age were singing pleasantly and smilingly about the demise of the world because there are gays in it.
Children were there too, just as children are present at KKK meetings, German children present to witness the slaughter of Jews in Nazi Germany, Colonial children present at the hangings and burnings of humans during our very own Puritan era, native American children present at the massacre of their tribes. "Show ‘em, get ‘em early, teach them about the world’s sinners so they’ll be good when they’re grown, so they’ll get rid of the vermin of different religions, races, different sexual preferences. Show them now!!"
Well, it’s not working. Those self-righteous people keep trying to rid the world of those they hate, but they keep failing. The hated ones continue to live and thrive, to lead productive, good lives (unlike many of their oppressors) and guess what? They are not going away. Never have, never will. So give it up.
And, you’ll pardon the cliché, but I have many gay friends, and so do you, by the way. Believe it. And surprise! A bunch of them are clergypeople! Believe that, too.
I fear the little boy shaking his hands that day will grow up thinking it’s right to carry venomous, grotesque signs, his life ruled by fear and slobbering hatred for people and lifestyles different from his.
But maybe someone from outside his immediate family will save him, remove the chimera, show him the way, teach him that being different is nothing more than simply being interesting. Maybe that little boy won’t grow up to carry signs, to beat gay people, nail them to fences, burn, hurt and torture them with words and actions. Maybe he’ll grow up in a world where no one (maybe even he himself?) ever has to hide behind a façade of unnaturalness, to hide in fakeness, to hide deep inside a dark closet.
LC Van Savage