Aug 10, 2007
V 35 Issue 32

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Cost of the
War in Iraq
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Not Thinking Straight by Madelyn Arnold
Growing up, growing old
by Madelyn Arnold - SGN Contributing Writer

Even today, it's no surprise many parents aren't pleased to hear their kids are Gay. You can imagine they feel deprived of grandchildren, "passing on the family name" or that big wedding where their girl was going to wear that dress great-grandma handed down. But, that's just disappointment. They might have felt that finding their kid's into teaching rather than their business.

There's Psychosis
But some parents do flip out. Actually, in the past that was the rule rather than the exception: the first Gay boys I met out in the bars were boys - 13, 14, 15 - and they all had the same story. Dad (or mom, sis, brother, cousin) somehow found them out and ditched them, sometimes with a little cash or food, but out they went -- generally after having had some part of their physique remodeled. This was the principal reason why so many Gay men never finished high school. Lesbians, too.

Yet, only a handful of years before, the same parents would've fought like tigers to protect those same kids. That's what parents do, though there have always been carefully observed exceptions -- matters where some unpleasantness was to protect from something worse, such as the severe mental retardation of PKU [phenylketonurea]. Getting the blood sample hurts, but briefly. Mental deficiency from PKU is forever.

Cruel to Be Kind
We tolerate some deliberate pain to our children -- in medical treatment, such as vaccinations; in religious ceremonies, such as circumcision; in cultural markers and rituals, such as identifying marks, like tattoos. Some time ago, I was in Northgate Mall standing in line at a food kiosk and became aware of a child's cries. Rounding a corner, I saw two women had a child of about two pinned firmly between them, ignoring her screams, chatting away pleasantly in Tagolog. They were piercing her ears. Their attitude said they knew this would hurt, and she'd struggle, but this was something one does.

Something one does to help the next generation resemble or fit in with the last.

Cruelly Kind?
Parents have a grave responsibility to mold their kids to the philosophies in which they believe, and, naturally, if they think Queer sex is a horror, they'll try to save their kids from it. Maybe they think that God would despise these kids - that's a terrible fate to someone who's religious.

The Inquisition was in part run by those who believed that if they themselves were infested with devils, they would have wanted to endure anything to get them out - so it was a mission of mercy to torture the devil(s) out of other poor souls. Of course, the most interesting part occurs before the torture - deciding what constitutes/cohabits with - the devil.

Minor Case of Devils
When the spit hit the fan for me, I was thrown out of college (I was too young for it anyway), then went home with my parents for an exciting evening of screams, blows and recriminations - mostly "are you" and "hell no" until I started shouting "yes", "yes", and "yes!" At which point my mother -- lady of the evening in Rigoletto, Mother Superior in Sound of Music, Jocasta in Oedipus Rex - exclaimed "I would rather you had been murderess!" And I said: "Ma, there's still time!"

Ah well, in my family, we've all made up - and the efforts of the Gay Community to demand to be heard and to educate -- had a great deal to do with it. After running off from the looney bin, I was allowed to live in my parent's house 'til I could get into another college. Relations with all my kin were strained, which I handled by avoiding the lot and going out only at night.

I particularly didn't want to see my grandmother but she tricked me into coming and, once in her house, I was treated to her impression of Lesbian Women I Have Known And Loathed - then she stopped herself, saying I was much too precious to lose, the world be damned....

Though my family accepts and supports me now, how much more did I need support when only my grandma gave it?

Living Long Enough
Since more of us these days are having children; I wonder how we'll do?

Imagine your sweet little kid picking up with a buzz cut and jackboot crowd - calling your friends FemiNazis and announcing s/he hates Jews, Coloreds, Catholics, poodles and prima donna interior decorators; saying the Holocaust is Jewish propaganda. What would you do? How do you manage when your core values are tested? Maybe with the PFNYs [Parents, Friends and Families of Nazi Youth] so as to at least find other people to kvetch at...

Mr. Katz always wanted new people on his block to feel welcome, so when Mr. Barker moved his gun shop in across the street, he took a little gift and shook Mr. Barker's hand. Barker looked startled. Next morning, up in Barker's big front window was a large sign: I HATE KIKES COONS QUEERS and PAPISTS. Mr. Katz considered this. His block was soon reacting - so, morning after that, Mr. Katz put up in his window: I HATE EVERYBODY.

There! Welcome to the neighborhood - not a soul excluded.

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