It’s not my fault!


Talking over some serious issues with a friend recently, I was reminded of the key reason why sexuality was never an issue for me; my parents. My parents never played the gender role game with us kids. I mowed the lawn and played football, while my brothers learned to cook and sew. They treated us equally, regardless of our sex, and as a kid, it was the best of all possible scenarios. As a teenager, it was a slightly different perspective. Not understanding gender roles when I hit Junior High School in a whole new place was daunting, to say the least. But as an adult, I can truly appreciate the gift our parents gave to us.

As for the way we dealt with the sexuality of other people, we can also lay the blame on our parents. They taught us by example how to accept people for who and what are, and not some warped view of what was supposed to be normal.

My Dad’s best friend from his childhood was a girl. Dad & this girl were inseparable for years, traipsing through the woods of Southern MD together, getting into trouble at every turn, and generally making things tough on my grandparents as an unbeatable team of mayhem. She was teased a lot because she was one of those strange little girls who just didn’t quite fit in their world (1950’s MD). But that never mattered to my Dad, she was just his friend, and he liked the fact she wasn’t freaked out by his carport menagerie like the other girls. Their close friendship endured until Dad moved away, but the two stayed in touch for years.

Now, my mother is still not really comfortable about homosexuality, but it never dawned on me that Mom had any qualms about the whole thing until a friend of mine in Junior High came out and I tried to defend her. Mom told me that I should be careful about how I defended my friend. I was too filled with teenage indignation to really listen to her. Not until the rumors started about me.

When I finally told Mom about it, she told me that kids were often cruel with that which they don’t understand. The uncertainty messed with their ideas of reality and they had to make it wrong in order to avoid asking those questions of themselves. Mom was speaking from experience. She had fallen into the same traps when she was younger. It was her relationship with my Dad that changed her perspective. Three of Dad’s cousins were gay, in addition to his best friend. Dad was a man before his time, because he never found himself questioning a person’s character based on sexuality. My Mom has since learned this trait, from him, and from her children.

My parents’ example of treating everyone equally has given me an incredible yard stick by which to measure my own behavior.  They showed me a world of common sense and reason I hope one day to spread out beyond the realm of my own family. And I’ve seen glimpses of that world in other families. Maybe one day, when enough parents have shown their children that everyone is equal, regardless of sexuality or gender, regardless of race, regardless of economic standing, we can truly appreciate one another as human beings first, and accept the rest as just another part of the human condition. I know I do, and I will always blame my parents for that.

One comment

  1. Lovely sentiments. 🙂 Your parents are gems.

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