I was reading the 'Rants & Raves' column in my local paper today. Like it sounds, it's an open forum for readers to send in short statements about stuff that gets them going. I found the following comment interesting and infuriating.
This is regarding Wednesday night's American Idol episode, where the last contestant was a cross-dresser... While I respect everyone's right to choose their lifestyle, I deeply resent that my 10-year-old son had to witness that particular ratings stunt. As a parent, I want to choose the time to tell my son about alternative lifestyles. Unfortunately, I had no choice but to answer questions that he should not have to ask at this age...This is supposed to be a family show - one this family won't watch again.
Now, I didn't see the show, so I don't know what the cross-dresser in question looked or acted like. I don't know if this was just a guy in drag like a Ru Paul type or an actual transvestite, though I would guess the former. I think it's safe to assume that the author believes that the contestant was gay (I would be surprised if he knew about the various distinctions in sexual identity). A couple of things about this rant piss me off.
First the author says he respects everyone's right to choose their lifestyle. The choice of words tips you off right away. Using the words choice and lifestyle in this context is always negative. He means that it's ok with him as long as these freaks never crawl out of their holes and bother normal people like him and his normal family.
Second, let's pretend that he was telling the truth and that he really does respect people's choices. But he's upset that he has to expose his 10-year-old son to this 'lifestyle'. His implication is that there's something dirty and shameful about people who aren't mainstream heterosexuals. As if the very act of being who they are is somehow sexual, like public lewdness or something. I don't think it's a stretch to say that he would consider anything other than good old-fashioned straight people to be too risque for family entertainment. Especially if one guy wearing a dress gets him so bent out of shape that he feels the need to write his local paper.
Last, what is he trying to protect his 10-year-old from? I have 2 kids, 10 and 6. In my experience, you don't do anyone any favors, especially the kids when you try to keep the world out. Keeping them from knowing that gay people exist is not protecting their innocence. Kids don't have some sort of right to be free from knowledge. He makes it sound like they showed a live blow-job and he had to explain oral sex to his son. It was just a guy in a dress - thank goodness it wasn't a bare nipple, or the shit might have really hit the fan.
I hate this sort of fake tolerance. He says he respects people, but then goes on to prove that he doesn't. Respect and tolerance both require acceptance and compassion. I think it's important to call people on this kind of bullshit. We've come a long way as a society in the last 50 or so years, but there's still a long way to go until we achieve true respect and compassion for people of every stripe.