I’m taking some serious ass time to rest up and get over this cold; so far, it’s working. I feel almost 100% well now, which is a good thing as I have a farm workday tomorrow. So anyway, for my evenings’ entertainments – since I’m too broke and / or lazy to line up a bunch of rented movies and there’s only so much reading I can do (currently Rudyard Kipling’s Kim) – I’ve been scrounging up whatever I can get my paws on. Enter good friend Cynthia who has ensnared me before with her passion for back-to-back voracious TV series viewing (our 2004 – 2005 CSI marathon season was legendary – also detrimental to my housework and annoying to my husband). Anyway, her latest (and therefore, my latest) addiction is Showtime’s “Queer as Folk”, which recently drew to a close and thankfully only has five seasons to interfere with my normally productive life. For those who haven’t seen this show, think” Friends” in terms of mediocre yet soothingly banal writing, Afterschool Special drama, and disposable relationships; the twists are that the show is all gay, graphic and frequent in sexual content (more ass and basket than “Oz”), and features jaw-dropping irresistable beefcake like Gale Howard (yeah, I know I’m a trendy prole for liking him, fuck off). Elements like this combined and you’ve got a heavy base of viewers – gay males and straight females alike – sucking up the stuff like a batch of watered-down cosmos.
Yesterday I let my daughter watch about fifteen minutes of the show with me. No, there was no graphic sex in the minutes we viewed – amazingly, because that show has some smut to it – although there was some ardent kissing between menfolk (everyone kisses on TV like they mean it, which those of us in long term relationships know doesn’t really happen every time we get home from the grocery store, etc). As we watched (my thumb hovering over the “pause” button on the remote if things got too wild) I was thinking of how my children are going to grow up with an entirely different concept of homosexuality than what I did. From my point of view, this is a good thing. I think I was one of the lucky ones, really – but still, it’s been a messed-up thirty years. When I think back to the overt messages my parents gave me, the mantra is fixed: gays are just like anyone else, except they prefer their own sex romantically. This core belief may not be entirely true or even very relevant to your average queer; but at least it’s relatively unbiased and helped me sort stuff out as a young child. I absorbed other sterotypes, though – whether through implications in my immediate upbringing or society at large. My entire life of sexual awareness I have also “known” other things about gays: that gay men were friendly, promiscuous, silly, “fun”, often acted unintelligent (in that way straight girls are still trained to do so), genuinely made unintelligent relationship choices, and, at the bottom of it all, were nervous wrecks. Lesbians were mannish, clumsy, unappealing, either far too muscular or flabby and untethered in some way (no bra), aggressive, and had slightly inferior personal hygiene (where did I get this stuff? I don’t know! … By the way, any angry lesbo reading this, please do not kick my ass. I wuv woo!).
Of course, it’s all bunk. My personal experience has informed me that homosexuals are just people; if they’re different in any all-encompassing way, it’s that confused people like myself unwittingly put them under a microscope. See, what’s weird is even now when I meet a homosexual (fictional ro real) I assume two things: one, that I will see the abovementioned traits at some point, however well the individual “hides” them; and two, that somewhere, deep down, they feel rotten about themselves; a core low self-esteem that guides many of their actions (although not, in any way, their innate sexual preferences).
And that, my friend, is what I am hoping my children will miss: the assumption or projection that inside every homosexual is a self-hating individual. That somehow, every gay feels like a square peg who will never fit into the round hole. I guess I’m progressive in that I know I’ve got misconceptions; but in view of the difficult and muddled task of deconstructing them, I realize I’d like better for my own kids. My generation had to get past our parents’ naivette or (sometimes) absolute revulsion; I hope the next generation doesn’t have to work so hard.
Tonight, continuing my pro-homo agenda, Sophie and I ended up watching most of Brokeback Mountain together. OK, honestly though – this was just a coincidence; the movie was loaned to us by Ralph’s coworker and beat out our copy of Night at the Roxbury (it’s a friend’s – he left it here, I swear!). Sophie, to her credit, took any and all gay male couples in stride and made no comment.
Although perhaps this stuff is sticking in some way. Today in the car she said to me, “Mama, I’m in love with you, because we’re girls. Daddy and Nels… Daddy and Nels are in love… so they’re boys.” Whatever the hell that all meant, I don’t know; perhaps I’m going to have to bring home some hetero pap to provide her the completely neutral, whatever-you-want-to-do-is-fine-with-us-honey upbringing we modern parents stress ourselves out in trying to provide. Next week: Sleepless in Seattle, anything with Sandra Bullock, etc.