Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen marquee names like Michael Sam and Ellen Page officially come out. They’re wonderful, and courageous, and deeply personal, yet these moments, perhaps more than anything else, spawn discussions across the nation about what being gay is and isn’t. In a culture obsessed with its own personal image and self-consciousness, it’s something we can’t stop talking about. With everything surrounding gay rights in the past few months, I’d be amazed if you hadn’t had a debate or at the very least a light discussion on the topic.
As a straight male, I won’t pretend to understand being gay much like I won’t pretend to understand what it’s like to be a woman. These are things I am not, nor have I ever been. But I’m always keen to listen to why someone would want to prohibit gay rights simply because I cannot imagine a scenario where that would be an appropriate thing to do. And one specific “rationale” gets me more than any other: “I don’t want to have to explain to my kids that a man can marry a man.”
Before I go on, let me preface by saying if you use this as the rationale for your personal anti-gay agenda, you’ve got deeper issues. First off, you’re insulting your own intelligence as a parent, hypothetical or not. You are willfully saying that you have neither the gumption nor the intellect to explain a fact of the world to your child. Secondly, you’re also submitting to the fact that you’re a lazy parent. I didn’t write the book on parenting but I’m fairly certain one of the tenants would be teaching your child about the world. If you aren’t up for explaining to your child something that, on the surface, shouldn’t be overly difficult to explain, maybe you should step your game up.
Ever stop and think about how selfish that is? One parent completely comfortable with denying a group of people rights just so he doesn’t have to explain something to his kid. Good luck to that parent when it comes to explaining actual difficult concepts. Good luck explaining why innocent people are murdered every single day. Good luck explaining the monthly school shootings that occur, along with the countless other things it will eventually be your responsibility to explain to your child. But most of all, good luck talking to your child about his or her own issues. Good luck opening up to them and getting the same in return.
Finally, if you’re worried about explaining something to your child, worry about divorce. Try explaining to your child why 50% of people swear they’ve met the love of their life, and then back out a short time later. Fifty percent, that’s alarming. More alarming than a gay population that, according to census data, makes up roughly 3% of America. Maybe the more important thing to explain to your kid is that we, as a whole, have turned marriage into a pile of hot garbage. What question do you think they’re going to ask first? They’ll encounter someone from a broken home on their first day of preschool, maybe even their first playdate. Who is to say their home won’t be broken, though we certainly hope it’s not.
Perhaps the most obvious point is that no matter what you choose to explain to your child, nothing disappears. The gay community won’t implode simply because you neglected to tell your kid about it. Their future does not rest on whether or not you choose to support them. So quit being lazy and deal with the world.