…and, to quote the song ‘But I’m not gay.’ Anyway, that is irrelevant.
Let me tell you a somewhat gruesome story. I swear it has a point.
When I was about 9, one of my friends at primary school started crying at lunch. When I asked her what was wrong, she said she thought she was really sick. The reason for this was she had found lots of blood in her underwear.
Obviously, she’d started her first period, but was at such a young age that she hadn’t yet been taught about the joys of the grownup female body and all its weird and wonderful excretions. She was terrified, but luckily I had been nosey enough that I’d already asked my Mama about the contents of the bathroom cupboard and been told all about it, so I could tell her what was happening and get her the help she needed.
The fact is, growing up is scary, and if you don’t know about what will or might happen to your body in those delicate adolescent years then you will be pretty much petrified for the duration. Especially about the stuff you can’t compare with anyone else, like hair sprouting in places you wouldn’t exactly want to wave around the classroom.
We do, thankfully, get taught about this stuff in secondary school, even if it isn’t always to an amazing standard (all I can remember of our sex education classes is one of the girls waving at us all with a sanitary towel on her hand, and a robust jolly woman giving us advice on how to get rid of an unwelcome erection if you find yourself with one on a diving board. Not sure there’d be a Cosmo special on either of those, but that’s sex-ed at a Catholic school for you.)
The fact is, when the hormones start pumping, kids don’t know what’s hit them, and the sudden new feelings they experience can feel very bewildering. This, of course, extends to which gender they are getting these feelings for.
So when I heard that a school in North London had been teaching gay history, and had managed to almost eradicate homophobic bullying as a result, I was obviously over the moon. This is because this kind of education will not only help educate all children – whether gay, straight, bi… thai, whatever – that your sexuality does not affect you or differentiate you from anyone else in terms of your ability to achieve or express yourself, but it also teaches kids that are gay that the feelings they have – feelings they might not have quite figured out yet, or been brave enough to discuss with anyone – are absolutely bloody fine, because plenty of other people have been gay and aren’t total freaks.
And yet the crazies are coming out of the woodwork, spouting about how ‘incandescent’ (this is the exact word I heard some frilly old bigot use on the radio) they are about this teaching, and how it will ‘promote homosexuality’. Or, in the words of a hilarious comment on the Guardian article I linked to above ‘WHY CAN’T WE TEACH THEM KIDS TO READ INSTEAD OF BUM EACH OTHER, EH?’ These are the morons that still think that being gay is a choice, like a whole bunch of kids each year club together and go “Hey, having a quiet life is dull – why don’t we decide to be a gay so we can get the shit kicked out of us at school? OMG, we might even get to hang ourselves – megalolz.”
And somehow all the other kids are going to be so envious of this lifestyle – the bit where you get so scared about telling your parents who you are that you almost lose them altogether, the bit where you’re refused entry into a hotel because you might make the bedsheets go all camp or something, the bit where the government decide whether you can have kids or not – they’re all gonna say ‘Yeah, let’s ALL be gay! It’s so COOL!’ You utter fucking halfwits.
You don’t get to choose to be gay. Educating kids won’t make them turn gay, nor is it ‘promoting’ it anyway (plus I think telling kids to be gay is about as effective as telling them to tidy their rooms), it’s just telling them the facts, and showing them true stories from the past. I don’t know many kids that learned about all of history’s famous dictators and immediately went out and planned a mass-genocide at the weekend, the same way that I don’t know that many kids learned about the suffragettes and started chucking themselves in front of horses.
If you are gay, however, hearing about Oscar Wilde, Alan Turing and Andy Warhol can make you realise that what you do in the bedroom has no bearing on your worth as a person, nor should you let others tell you it does.
Those opposed also say:
1. “It won’t stop bullying anyway”. Uh – keep up, shit-for-brains, it already has.
2. “Oh, why not celebrate the fatties and gingers as well?” I think you’ll find there aren’t any campaigns to stop educating kids about ‘fatties and gingers’, nor are parents writing into schools saying they don’t want their children to be subjected to ‘fat’ or ‘ginger’ propaganda, unlike homosexuality.
3. My person fave “I can’t begin to explain why I feel so strongly about this because I’m just too angry.” No, hysterical lady, you can’t begin to explain because there is quite simply no justification for your backward beliefs – now go and cook some cous-cous and complain to Maoam about the filthy copulating fruit they are putting on the wrappers, the scoundrels.
Basically, no, we shouldn’t be ‘encouraging’ homosexuality any more than we should ‘encourage’ kids to be straight or vegetarian or lovers of silly hats, but showing kids it exists and is okay is about the best move forward I could hope for.
And if you don’t think that – I DON’T CARE. As Lea DeLaria puts it so beautifully “What do you mean you ‘don’t believe in homosexuality’? It’s not like the Easter Bunny – your belief isn’t necessary.” The day this quotation makes sense to everyone will be a very good day indeed.