Something has been playing on my mind recently, and it’s an accumulation of many subtle influences over the years. It’s the idea that somehow being gay is somehow more sexual and sexually explicit than being straight. It came to light how prevalent this attitude actually is in a recent daily mail article reporting on decency standards on the television. The daily mail writes
“Lesbian kisses could be banned from television screens until late into the night under radical Government plans to stop children being exposed to ‘indecent’ images.” http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1382376/Indecent-lesbian-kiss-scenes-face-watershed-crackdown.html
I think what shocked me most was the clear distinction between what was considered explicit vs. family friendly, and that there was a clear dividing line here between gay vs. straight. A lesbian kiss on television was somehow considered to be explicit and not appropriate for children. Why is this so? Straight couples regularly show affection to each other on television, including kisses (and sometimes more), yet these boy-girl kisses never raise an eyebrow. Why is it somehow more sexual and more ‘for adults’ when it is two girls (or two boys)?
It reminded me about an argument I had with a male friend about his young daughters. The two girls were in pre-school and early primary school and were being asked by other parents if they had any little crushes or ‘boyfriends’ at school (in that slightly creepy way that parents do with very young children – jeez give them time to live a little first why don’t you?!). When I interjected and asked if they had any crushes on girls I was quickly shot down by the adults present, saying that this was not appropriate for children of their age, and why was I trying to push gay on them. My response was that I was absolutely not trying to “push” gay on them, rather I wanted them to know that if they did have any feelings of this sort it was completely normal and would be discussed in exactly the same way as if they had a crush on a boy. And furthermore I said, digging my heels in firmly, if anyone was trying to push sexuality on these kids it was the adults who were making these stupid comments to 5 year old girls about having boyfriends in the first place. Needless to say I didn’t make many friends that day. But it illustrates the same concept, that being straight is natural and innocent for young children, but gay remains a ‘deviant lifestyle’ that children need to be protected from until they are old enough to understand it. Given the high rate of suicide and depression in young gay people, shouldn’t we as a society pay very close attention to this distinction?
I am also reminded of a very progressive, liberal primary school teacher friend of mine who surprisingly thought that including gay issues in the sex education course at her state run school would be inappropriate. We spent much time debating this point, and my opinion remained that if a child is old enough for sex education they are old enough for straight and gay sex education. Sex is sex. Its not dirtier or more explicit if you do it with a man or with a woman, no matter what sex you are. As long as we keep presenting straight sex and normal and gay sex as deviant/dirty we keep barriers between the gay and straight communities in place and true sexual equality will remain elusive.A little bit of acceptance could go a long way in helping the next generation of queer kids feel like they are normal human beings just like everyone else.
My suspicion is that a lot of people have a gut reaction to think this way, even though they might have never considered the issue specifically before. What do you think? I would be interested to hear if you think that children should be protected from “gayness” or if you think a gay kiss is just the same as a straight kiss.
(If like me, you think that there should be no distinction between gay and straight, you can also write to Mothers’ Union chief executive Reg Bailey head of the inquiry and tell him how you feel.)