Thursday, March 10, 2005

On a kid saying the darndest things

Okay, so Tuesday's AJC just proves what I've always suspected, that our legislators are about as bright as your average fifth-grader. Because a "New Attitudes" column by a Dekalb County middle-schooler puts them to
shame - and the rest of us, too:
What do you think when you think of gay people? Most people would answer that question with sounds of disgust. But why? What did gay people do that was so bad? Why do so many people hate gay people?

Is there a reason? Well, most people would say, "It says so in the Bible." Who wrote the Bible? Men. Men who feared. Men who had to be in control. Men who also said women should have no rights.

Gay people are just like everyone else. They love. They have arguments. They want children. They have to eat to live. They die at old ages. So what makes them so different?

Gay people are adopting children because they can't have children of their own. Trust me, I would know.

I am one of those children who were adopted by two gay men. They are the best family I've ever had. And they love.

They don't care that I'm black and they're white, they don't care that I look, sound or am different. They love. And who could understand that more than a child who had never been loved, and is finally loved by people whom other people hate?

I don't think that I could ever hate because I'm surrounded by real love.

Out of the mouths of babes. Good Lord.

Of course, some people won't be satisfied. Some people can't stand to not be right, and some people bristle at being put in their place by a seventh-grader. So of course, some people are going to writea letter to the editor:
So what do her two "daddies" say when Mary Manganello asks them about sex, menstruation, birth control, marriage, masturbation, childbearing or any number of questions that reflect the special, warm, personal, intimate, inimitable, unmatchable and irreplaceable feelings a daughter gets from talking and sharing her feelings with her mom?

Well, I'm not there, so I can't answer that with any certainty. But I'm gonna guess they'll do a lot of the same things that my friend's dad did. Her mother died when she was eight, leaving her father to raise three daughters by himself. When she got her period, he bought tampons. When she got boobs, he took her to JC Penney for a bra fitting. When she had questions about sex, he answered them, and when she started dating, he started cleaning his gun every weekend (this is the south, after all). He did better as father and mother than a lot of two-member parenting teams that I know. And thusly raised, she has grown into a smart, beautiful, capable young woman, nonetheless feminine for having a man in charge of her upbringing.

I was lucky enough to have both parents around the entire way. My father and I, of course, have that special daddy-daughter relationship when we're alternately rapt with mutual adoration and at each other's throats; it's our way. My mother and I have had our rough spots (think the entirety of middle school), but at this point we're at the best-buds stage, and it's great. Each relationship is full of "special, warm, personal, intimate, inimitable, unmatchable and irreplaceable feelings" that come not from our respective plumbing setups but from the people that we are. Mom, as a guy, would still be wonderfully sympathetic and kind and smart and funny - now that I think about it, she'd probably be my best friend Jacob; that explains a lot about my relationship with him. Daddy, as a woman, would be, well, me; that we're pretty much exactly alike explains both the closeness and the contentiousness (I've been lucky enough to escape without his mustache).

It's one of the early basics that we're taught as children: I'm okay, you're okay. Color, gender, socioeconomic status, disability, or, yeah, sexual orientation - that's all demographics; we're defined by the people we are inside. How tragic is it that grown men and women can so easily forget their kindergarten lessons. And if it takes a little black girl and her two gay daddies to remind us, then I'm all for it.  We've still got a long way to go, and a little child shall lead us.

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