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Gay Parenting 101: Coming Out Isn't Talking Dirty - Mo's Journal
November 23rd, 2006
09:54 pm

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Gay Parenting 101: Coming Out Isn't Talking Dirty

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From:dpolicar
Date:November 25th, 2006 04:44 pm (UTC)
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(Also here via hitchhiker, and sticking my nose into a question meant for rosefox.)

Well, there's a sense in which we are that powerful.

I try to remember the Asch conformity experiments in this context. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asch_conformity_experiments) One of my favorite results from these studies is that a single divergent answer pretty much destroys the conformity effect -- even if that answer is also wrong. That is, it's not just the specific answer that gets reinforced, it's the whole category of unconventional answers.

So it isn't crazy to believe that, if people like me and my partner go around getting married or otherwise paired off in unconventional ways, we make it easier for other people to ignore all kinds of conventions. (And this, I do find empowering. In a very literal sense one voice can make a huge difference, even in an enormous crowd.)

Of course, that's only a problem if you believe it's necessary for everyone to conform to conventions that have no obvious benefits. Even radical free-thinkers drive on the same side of the street as other people, and stop at red lights in traffic, because they know there are benefits to doing so. Not wearing white after Labor Day isn't the same sort of thing. So when this sort of thing comes up in conversation I try to narrow down just what sorts of conventions people are worried about, and suggest that either there isn't a good reason to protect that convention, or there is and precisely because there is it will survive the onslaught of us dangerous queer couples just fine thank you.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, my success is mixed.
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From:starcat_jewel
Date:November 25th, 2006 06:33 pm (UTC)
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Also here via hitchhiker.

What you're talking about here seems similar to the mathematical argument that "it only takes one counter-example to disprove an absolute assertion". And for people who are heavily emotionally invested in that assertion, I can see how that would be perceived as threatening. I think your approach is a good one, and will add it to my own toolbox.

As to the original post -- hear, hear! This is an argument I've been making for a long time, that it's Not Okay to say "just don't rub MY nose in it" if your definition of same is "make me aware that it exists at all". It seems that a lot of anti-gay people have this idea that gay couples don't do anything BUT have sex, and that's just stupid. They also go to work, and do the laundry, and grocery-shop, and (if they're lucky) visit relatives, and all the other non-sexual things that straight couples do.

And it's much harder to demonize someone who is visibly similar to yourself... which I suspect is one of the reasons that the "flaunting" meme continues to be used.
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From:mofic
Date:November 25th, 2006 06:49 pm (UTC)
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It seems that a lot of anti-gay people have this idea that gay couples don't do anything BUT have sex, and that's just stupid.

It is a stupid idea, and it's one that gets perpetuated by closeted behavior. It's not a coincidence that "Yes" to equal rights for gays in a variety of areas correllates strongly in polls with a yes to "Do you know any gay men or lesbians personally?" Everyone knows gay people personally because we truly are everywhere, but if you don't know that your colleagues and your neighbors and your kids and your parents and your friends and your kids' friends' parents are gay, then your only association with gay people is sex.

On the other end of that, my elder daughter who was of course raised in a gay family, thinks of being gay as about family structure first and foremost. She once asked me "What's the connection between being gay and sex?" as described here: http://mofic.livejournal.com/13962.html#cutid1

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From:starcat_jewel
Date:November 26th, 2006 02:47 am (UTC)
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And, sadly, the people who most need to be made aware of gay people as just people are generally among the least likely to have it happen. I've had people tell me, in all seriousness, that THEY certainly don't know any goddamn queers, and my immediate response was, "Well, you almost certainly do, but they're sure as hell not going to tell YOU about it, because you'd firebomb their house!" (If I say it out loud, I usually substitute something a little less confrontational for the last clause.)
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From:dpolicar
Date:November 25th, 2006 07:14 pm (UTC)
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Yeah. There's an old joke about "living the gay lifestyle" along those lines (wake up, have coffee, drive to work, bitch about traffic, read email, etc. etc. etc.).

There's another side to this stereotyping business, and that's the gay people who buy into it and believe that being gay has to redefine every aspect of their lives.

I mean, sure, to some extent it does, just like falling in love does, but not the way they think.

I've had a few younger folks over the years tell me that getting to know me and my partner was an important part of their coming out process, precisely because we "seemed so normal." Which I'm never quite sure how to take, to be honest, but on the whole it saddens me that the situation arises.
From:toujourspur1
Date:January 7th, 2007 03:55 pm (UTC)
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Thank You for posting this. I came out (was outed) a few months ago, and my mum said, (among other stuff) "I've never seen anything masculine in you!" (I'm a lesbian) It was all I could do to stay quiet.
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From:dpolicar
Date:January 7th, 2007 04:22 pm (UTC)
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Oh, don't even get me started on people confusing sexual orientation and gender identity. Pisses me off in more ways than I know how to count.

Anyway, good luck dealing with your mom and everything.
From:toujourspur1
Date:January 7th, 2007 05:19 pm (UTC)
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She was sorta OK, mostly just said I was too young to know for sure (16) and should prolly date a few boys first.
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