I want to expose your children to homosexuality
Dear Parents of the World -
There is a phrase used often, when talking about portrayals of homosexuals in the media, by people who say that it's okay for people to be gay in the privacy of their own homes but they don't want to "expose their children to homosexuality". No offence, they say. I just don't want to have to explain boys kissing to my 4-year-old. To some people, it seems like a reasonable request, and you often get your way. Like the censorship of the gay kiss in Katy Perry's Fireworks video in the UK.
On behalf of the gay people of the world, let me say: get over it.
Let's not beat around the bush here. Yes, we want to expose your children to homosexuality. We absolutely do. It's important that we expose your children to homosexuality. But not because it makes us feel better. Not out of some desire to be politically correct, or inclusive. But because it is potentially vital for their psychological well-being.
Your children are already exposed to heterosexuality on a near-constant basis in advertising, in music, in television, in movies, in books. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves exposes children to heterosexuality. She kisses the prince! That is some full-on heterosexuality going on right there!
But homosexuality is much less well-covered. Sure, homosexuality is not as common as heterosexuality, so, sure, I'd expect straight kisses on TV to outnumber gay kisses. But by hundreds, not by millions. Every romance is a straight romance, every teenager's tale of self-discovery ends in their getting the girl. The princess always marries the prince, not another princess.
The reason there are confused kids who don't realize they're gay until their late teens, causing them much anguish and heartache, is precisely because they are not exposed to homosexuality. Some are just unaware that it is a possibility. Others know there are gay people, but because people like you request that images of loving gay couples not be shown to children, they get the clear impression that there is something Wrong or Bad about homosexuality.
I know lots of you, if asked, would say there's nothing wrong with homosexuality. You may even believe it to be true. But your stance on this issue indicates differently. It's the softest form of bigotry, but precisely because it seems so innocuous it remains unexamined and damaging to the psyche of the 4-8% of kids who, no matter what they see on TV, are going to turn out gay anyway. Not knowing the word "gay" won't stop them being gay, it will just prevent them understanding why they feel so different, and that lack of understanding can be traumatic.
You don't want to explain boys kissing boys to your four-year-old? GET OVER IT. You had to explain boys kissing girls to them last week. Whatever level of explanation you gave then ("they like each other") will do just fine. If they ask questions about how gay sex works, then you can always say "I'll tell you when you're older". You don't have to give them the full blow-by-blow the first time they ask. Whenever you explain how straight sex works is fine. (However, I recommend you first find out how gay sex works before attempting to explain it. Apparently a lot of you still have some pretty weird ideas.)
Even if you are 1000%, completely, totally sure your kid is straight -- his first words were "I love vaginal sex", or something -- do it anyway. Because the second-worst thing to gay kids who think being gay is wrong is straight kids who do, and pass that mistaken belief on to their peers. You don't have to sell it to them. You don't have to convince them that being gay is a thing they want to do. They just need to understand that it is a relatively uncommon but entirely natural way to be, like being left-handed.
And sure, some kids, when they hear that some people are left-handed, try writing with their left hand too. They soon discover it doesn't work for them, and switch back. So maybe your teenagers, hearing that homosexuality is an equally valid state of being, might try it out. But so what? They'll discover it's not what they're into, and they'll move on. Believe me, there's no chance they'll get confused about it. Either you like boys or you don't. And if the thought of your children trying out gay sex scares you more than the thought of them trying out straight sex, you might want to examine your own beliefs for a second.
So go on. Expose your children to homosexuality today. It's for their own good.
Update 2010-12-24 clarified language to avoid giving the false impression that sexuality is a conscious choice. Also corrected a typo.