Keeping Families Together
The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog
August 12, 2011
When Toddlers Grow Up, We’ll Be A Lot Closer To Equality
By BELINDA AND JOHN DRONKERS-LAURETA
Opportunities To Teach Acceptance
Our son’s cousin, five years old, and niece, three years old, were at his commitment ceremony back in New Jersey a few weeks ago. The five-year old has been to weddings and associates them with a boy and girl ceremony. So she had a question: how was it that two boys could get married? Her mother explained that it is OK for two boys to get married or even for two girls to get married. It didn’t matter, because love is love and we should always love our family and friends regardless of whom they marry. She went on to say that some of her friends at school may have two daddies or two mommies.
The three year old has never been to a wedding and asked no questions, but her parents knew that she was going to go to several weddings in the future and wanted to prevent confusion. They read to her from My Uncle’s Wedding by Eric Ross. It’s a children’s book that tells the story of Uncle Mike and Uncle Steve’s wedding through the eyes of their young cousin Andy. Mark Leno issued a California Senate Certificate of Recognition at the book’s launching proclaiming that “the book plays a vital role in creating a brighter future for our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth and their parents.”
LGBT Visibility Is A Powerful Force
Both little girls didn’t seem to be overly bothered at the wedding. They danced and ate and used up quantities of energy that they will regret having squandered when they are older. Friends tell us stories of their young children asking questions about their two aunties or two uncles and how they try to answer them. LGBT visibility has provided the opportunity to explain to young children that all love is equal. Questions are a healthy sign; it wasn’t too long ago when there were no questions at all.
It Is More About Fear Than Ignorance
But we have one more story, a different one.
On his Facebook page a friend wrote:
I will never understand it when a certain group of individuals would look at me and the one I love in disgust and would not let us sit on the train when their own [people] have fought so hard to have equal rights which is the reason why they are sitting down on that train. Why should we [be] treated like 2nd class citizens? I don’t get the double standards!
There were eighteen comments on this post and many of them said that the reason for the prejudice was ignorance. Ignorance may be part of it, but a far heftier component of the equation is fear. A same-sex couple agitates the norm, represents otherness, is a threat to a belief taught from birth. Some people work it out, others resent it and lash out.
The Future Looks Bright
If we can get enough stories of parents teaching their toddlers love, respect and acceptance, then the Facebook story goes away. When those toddlers grow up to become adults, same-sex couples will be part of their norm and they won’t become agitated when they see a same-sex couple on a train, or anywhere else, and they don’t have to resent it and lash out. They’ll wonder what the big deal was back then.
Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride www.apifamilypride.org