By Sabrina Almeida
For many parents like me who grew up in a society that only recognized a union between a man and a woman, the fast changing social landscape has us running scared. While earlier concerns revolved around the religious or communal orientations of the partners our children might choose, today we are overwhelmingly concerned about the gender.
Truth be told many of us have absolutely no idea how to deal with the LGBT wave which is gaining momentum. The recent move by the US to legalize same-sex marriages in all 50 states brings back into focus our apprehensions about the choices our children might make. Just because they can.
Options can influence your choices, we fear that in some cases orientation might have nothing to do with an individual’s sexual preferences or life partner.
Imagine if drugs were freely available! More people might be inclined to try it no. Moreover legalization might even change the perspective on their harmfulness. In fact there are a fair amount of people who will advise those who want to indulge themselves occasionally to opt for weed which they consider to be a lesser evil.
Similarly if you had the freedom to explore the possibilities of being with a man or woman, or both, you might not want to choose. What happens to the family unit then? Today it has changed to accommodate same-sex parents but what if you wanted a man and a women?
This is not a slight on the LGBT community. Shaken to our moral cores but fearful of the choices our children might make, we would not dare to make a negative comment. I’m merely expressing what many straight parents are thinking.
As awareness and acceptance increases, we are forced to consider a new reality… that straight relationships could face extinction and be treated with the disdain and scorn that same-sex relations once faced.
If you have encountered a relative or friend who has come of the closet you might have a different perspective. I remember reading a story about a Catholic mother’s struggle to come to terms with her son’s gay sexual identity back in the day when religion condemned it. But here too acceptance is forced and the change comes from having to adapt rather than an inner realization. It is difficult after all to completely alter your beliefs.
Parents I have encountered at soccer games or other team sports my sons’ played, would often say that the first criteria for their children’s choice of a spouse was that they bring home someone of the opposite sex. While they made light of it with a smile or joke, it didn’t mask their real concern and discomfort with the new world.
As result many parents who would normally tell their kids to focus on their education rather than serious relationships in high school and university, encourage them to go out and pursue relations with the opposite sex today. From gentle questions about interest in the opposite sex and dating to literally snooping to find evidence (like porn on their computers) concerned parents are not above doing anything just to find some small indication that the kids are straight. No one wants to ask the question for the fear of what the answer might be. Yet they are our kids and we would rewrite the moral code to accommodate then should the need arise.
I remember when we did the unit on sexuality with both my sons in Grade 6 there was a reference to same sex partners. We put the only spin on it that we could, fully aware that our kids were being schooled in a different reality. While we advised acceptance of such relationships (for other people mind you) but we did state at the time that it was not something we were comfortable with. I don’t know what went through the boys’ minds then or if we scarred them for life. We were just being stupidly honest.
Today, almost four years later, we would hesitate to say those words even though our beliefs haven’t changed. The “what if” is too big a variable and we want to be politically correct. My boys have friends who are ‘gay’ and ‘bi-sexual’ and think we have no right to be judgmental. Given the fast changing scenario being sexist might have new connotations. In fact it is not too farfetched to think that it might soon be considered a graver crime than being racist.
Until then we will just keep our fingers crossed and say all the right things… but secretly our fears remain and we pray that we might not be tested.