Gay Thoughts From a Straight Woman

I'm so stunned by a recent conversation, I feel compelled to write about it.  It strays far from my normal blog topics.  I expect, as usual, I will probably offend some people with my frankness.

I have to speak my heart, though.

I had lunch with a girlfriend yesterday.

She isn't one of my closest friends, but she's more than an acquaintance.  I've always thought we were "on the same page" with our outlooks on life.

I guess that's why I was so shocked when our conversation about the TV show Modern Family, took the turn it did.

"I'm open-minded and tolerant of gays," she said out of the blue, and very nonchalantly.

"Tolerant?" I questioned.

(Because, for me, the word "tolerant" implies I put up with gays in spite of my real feelings.)

"Yes," she nodded.  "It would be different if one was a teacher to my kids.  I'd have a problem with that, but otherwise I think it's fine."

My brain immediately flashed to my friend Jason, who is both gay and a (wonderful) teacher.  Then my brain flashed to a few of the incompetent, horrible, straight teachers my kids have had over the years.

I admit, I was floored.

My brain tried to wrap itself around what I was hearing.

"You think being gay is catching?" I asked, appalled.

"No, not catching," she hesitated.  "There's just the whole nature vs. nurture argument and I wouldn't want my kids to be influenced by a gay teacher."

"You think a gay teacher would be teaching kids to be gay?" I asked, shocked.

"Influencing," she responded.  "A lot of people have tendencies that can go either way.  I wouldn't want a gay teacher to influence my kids in that direction.  Look, no one wants their kid to grow up to be gay.  They just don't."

I thought about my parents.  They (particularly my dad) would have had a hard time adjusting if I had been gay, but  I know, in time, they would have.

I thought about my own kids.  I can honestly say it would not change my love for them one bit if they were gay.

Not one bit.

Seriously, how could I possibly care as long as they were happy?

I don't write those words because they're politically correct, I write them because I believe them with every ounce of my being.

Would I worry about my kids' lives being more difficult if they chose a same sex partner?

Maybe I would.  

Maybe they would have to deal with discrimination and biases and people like … well, like my lunch partner.

The thing is, I have a 16 year old, a 20 year old, and a 21 year old and I worry about their lives being difficult anyway.  Maybe my worries would be different, but I don't know if I would/could worry more than I already do.

Parents worry about their kids.

It's what we do.

(My mom, who just turned 80, worries constantly about my disability and the fact I live my life in pain.)

My thoughts returned to my friend's comment.

What did she mean "influencing?"

Does she picture a teacher interrupting the day's math lesson to give first graders pep talks on Why You Should Join the LGBT Community?

Seriously?

How is a teacher, in the normal daily course of their day, going to "influence" a student's sexuality?

I thought back to my youngest son's third grade teacher.  He was openly gay and, without a doubt, one of the best teachers any of my kids ever had.  Parents lined up to request him.  Everyone was hoping he'd "influence" their kids with all his wonderfulness.  He was known throughout the community for being a truly gifted educator.  In fact, he'd won national awards for his teaching.

I never once heard a parent voice any concern over his sexuality.

I guess I'm incredibly naive.

(For my naivety, I apologize to my LGBT friends.)

My heart hurts right now.

I'm not even gay and this whole thing makes me feel terribly sad and disappointed.

I can't imagine how horrible l it would be to be judged, not on the quality of your work, but on your sexuality.

I thought we'd moved further folks.

I thought our culture had evolved beyond tolerance to acceptance.

* I will leave comments open as long as they're posted in a respectful manner.  You don't have to agree with me, or my opinions, but you do have to be respectful of others.  I will delete any comments which I determine to be hurtful, harmful, or hate promoting.  I will close comments completely if I deem necessary. *

© Twenty Four At Heart

28 Responses to “Gay Thoughts From a Straight Woman”

  1. Michelle

    You know, there are a lot of things that I don’t agree with, but accept. And, I hope, that I see the person before the sexuality or the disability or the color of their skin (which means nothing to me anyway).
    I believe that everybody should be able to do their job or be the best they can at what they do, and not be judged by non-essentials as such.
    I will admit that the people who annoy me are the ones who cry discrimination or expect special treatment because of their sexuality or disability, etc even though they aren’t doing the best job or aren’t the best person for a position etc.

  2. yvonne nc

    I know there are people that hadn’t moved past it, though I really thought it was mostly in the “Bible belt”, but alas it appears not to be the case.

  3. tonya cinnamon

    this is why narrow minded people make me so angry..
    being gay is not a disease.If my sons came home one day and announced they were gay. more power to them.id still love them.im their mom .who couldnt love them? 🙂
    some people today say oh their with gay sexuality and great teachers and all but if it truly came down to it they would be more worried what people thought of them. screw that.
    if you dont like my view and my friends. go on.
    hugs
    ps. did you accidentally dump your drink in her lap

  4. Suzanne Y.

    I’d like to say I am stunned by that comment, but I’m not. Learning to accept people for who they are can be very difficult for some people. Our youngest child has intellectually disabilities and her brothers often had a hard time dealing with peers who would not accept her. Kinsey is now 18 years old and we still experience unwanted and sometimes hostile stares because she looks just a little bit different.
    My nephew, once a lesbian is now a happily married transgender male. You simply could not find a kinder, more gentle, and accepting person than he. Fortunately, our entire family loves and accepts him for who he is, not what he was.

  5. unmitigated me

    How about moving beyond acceptance to celebration? I think that would be my last interaction with that “friend.”

  6. Jan

    You know what is even sadder than this? When your gay friend, who has been your friend for 30 years, who has stuck by you through thick and thin, who was one of the few people who stood by you through a terrifying and gut-wrenching divorce, who is godfather to your children and whom you absolutely cannot imagine life without, decides that his sexuality is WRONG because the Catholic Church says it is WRONG. Who takes a vow of “chastity” and beats himself up constantly because he’s a human being who was never meant to sexually “chaste,” whatever that means. Who is drifting further and further away because you love him wholeheartedly for who and what he is, but he can’t love himself.
    It makes me cry.
    And your “friend” is a dick, even if she doesn’t have one.

  7. Kelly

    Is your friend 90? That attitude is what I would expect from a past generation. I didn’t think there were still people like that out there either. Wow.

  8. Momma Sunshine

    I’m shocked and saddened that people still feel this way.
    My daughters are 6 and 8, and have been raised from birth knowing that whomever they decide to partner with is perfectly fine with their father and I. Their happiness is truly the only thing that matters. I would have absolutely no issue whatsoever if either one of them one day announced that they were gay.

  9. LPC

    Of course there are still people out there who feel this way. Of course it is so, so disappointing. Society still has a long way to go around all sort of gender and sexuality issues. But this, where a whole class of people suffers emotional and economic repercussions, should be illegal.

  10. Aunt Baaa

    I live in “The OC” as well. Unfortunately, this is the type of ignorance we deal with in this area. I am more concerned with my children (who are just now reaching school age) being “influenced” by other resident’s/teacher’s willful ignorance and militant blindness. I want my children to have compassion and love for other people, no matter who they are.
    The best teacher I EVER had was gay. He was an award-winning educator, but was almost driven out of town by narrow-minded parents. As an adult, I can see now that my worst teacher (just plain mean and abusive) was gay as well. So what?
    Their sexual orientation had absolutely NOTHING to do with their teaching ability. Perhaps if we weren’t so limited in our thinking about who makes a qualified teacher, we would not have such ignorant adults.
    I agree with Jan. Your “friend” is a dick, plain and simple.

  11. Pam

    Wow, that is very sad. I think there are people in this country (and especially in the state I live in!) who think that they are ‘better’ somehow because they are straight. Are you kidding me? I don’t understand why it matters to anyone to worry about who other adults choose to love and choose to live their lives with.
    And thinking that a gay teacher might influence someone to become gay??? Wow! Again, very sad….

  12. Tara

    This post saddens me. You would think that we would have gotten past these issues as a country but sadly we have not. When my partner and I first started dating we discussed having children and why there are so many people against gay marriage. She made sure to tell me that when we had a child she didn’t want them to be gay. For someone to think that a teacher would try to teach someone to be gay is absolutely preposterous. Although our society is moving forward and becoming more accepting there is still a stigma attached to being gay, bi, lesbian or trans. When we have children we will encourage them to be themselves whatever that means.

  13. Tami

    It’s easy to dismiss your friend as a dick, but that’s simplistic. Best case, your friend is simply ignorant and needs to be educated. Possibly your friend has fought her “tendencies” her whole life because she hasn’t yet accepted her gay self. Maybe she was brought up in a super judgemental family and hasn’t learned to break free from those biases yet. In any case, she’s an adult and responsible for making better decisions than these clearly stupid discrimatory ones. God, I hope she does’t have kids to teach these archaic attitudes too. Or better yet, let her have a gay child so she learns how wrong she is. Often times our kids are our best teachers.

  14. Amy_in_Stl

    So my first impression was that I get saying that you don’t want your kids to grow up to be gay. I mean any time you’re different in our culture, life is harder for you. I mean the adults I work with (aged from their 20s to their 50s) make fun of people in our building who experimented with being a transvestite and contemplated transgenderism; they make fun of the guy who dates transvestites…. But then I realize that those folks make fun of everyone. If you aren’t like them – just like them – they make fun of you when you aren’t around. And I don’t mean straight – I mean if you are heavier, more OCD, messier, scatterbrained, sexually open, listen to something other than pop or country music…. So I guess the answer is that everyone gets made fun of at some point. It sucks; but we haven’t moved past that as a culture. We just haven’t. It probably sucks more for the LGBT community; but I’ve heard some pretty hurtful things said about my straight co-workers too. People are idiots – it’s why I like dogs.

  15. Missy

    If you substitute the word black for gay and reread what she said you would say she’s a racist. Discrimination is discrimination. Period.

  16. Linda

    There are a lot of ignorant people in this world. It is inevitable that some of them are masquerading as our friends. I have been shocked by some of my friend’s backwards, racist, discriminitory opinions along the way and I just drift away (on purpose ) from ignorant people. I rarely try to educate them because it usually doesn’t work. Thanks for a thought provoking post Suzanne. The question I have is, what did you say to her? (if anything) Like I said- people don’t change that type of opinion easily. If she is reading this post perhaps she will rethink her opinion- maybe not.

  17. Melanie

    The biggest gift we can give our kids is unconditional love. My kids know I will love them just as much no matter who they choose to love. I feel sorry for your friend’s kids. If she doesn’t want them to interact in any way with gays, what will she convey to them if they love someone of the same sex? Shame on her and god help her kids. Your friend is ignorant and discriminatory.

  18. Kath

    I’m w Missy. What religion or nationality is your friend? Have her substitue in that word every where/time she’d use the word gay and see how she feels. I wouldn’t want a “christian/jew/muslim” teaching my kid. I wouldn’t want a “WOMAN” a “Swede/German/Irish person” teaching/influencing. Maybe THAT will make her open her eyes and see how ignorant and blind she is to reality.

  19. Rachael

    Funny, I’ve always wanted a gay son. Like, really badly! Unfortunately for me, both my boys are confirmed heteros…

  20. dogmother

    I always felt I was very “open” in regards to sexuality. My “open” attitude was challenged when my daughter announced she was dating women. I had a rush of unexpected feelings, quickly followed by, “I want her to be happy” feelings. Interestingly, she returned to dating men (and I might add she was happier with women). It wasn’t until I heard a lecture on gender-variant children that I truly and completely understood homosexuality. It has always repulsed me to hear religions bash genger preference as “sinful” (a huge part of why I no longer attend church). We are all wired differently. Honestly, your acquaintance is shallow (and homophobic).

  21. Jason

    Sometimes I feel like a wonderful teacher, sometimes I feel like I’m not so wonderful. BUT…whether I am a wonderful teacher or not, it has absolutely nothing to do with my sexuality! It has everything to do with my motivation, my creativity, my attitude, my interest in my students, my skill, my knowledge base, my empathy, my perceptions, my intelligence, my years of study, my frame of mind, my experience, and my support system.
    I’m glad you addressed this topic. It, along with equality in marriage, is one of the last frontiers.
    Although, I am very pleased to say that in my many years of experience as an “out” teacher, I have never once heard even the smallest comment or complaint about me being gay. I certainly NEVER discuss it with parents or students, but the staff knows, and I’m sure many parents know as well from word of mouth or an accurate sense of gaydar.
    I guess this just means that the OC is still way more conservative than my little neck of LA county. Although come to think of it, the whole Prop. 8 debacle did make me feel like I was living in Utah or the Bible Belt.
    Thanks for the shout out. And I’m very pleased with your readers’ comments. Hopefully you haven’t had to delete any.

  22. Nancy P

    Wow! I don’t even know what to say. Ipp.
    find her attitude so bizarre. At first I was angry reading this but really just find it so so sad. On a side note, I hope SHE isn’t a teacher….

  23. Jill

    My 1st grade daughter’s teacher is gay. We all know it. And he ROCKS!
    We have many gay friends and openly talk about men marrying men and women marrying women in our house … exactly how we’d talk about heterosexual couples getting married. My girls (ages 6 & 8) get it – and have moved on …
    I didn’t realize people still cared about other people’s sexuality so much … wow.

  24. Jenn in Tenn

    Such a beautifully well-written post…as always ;-).
    I AM in the bible belt and am not floored at all with what your “friend” said. Saddened, but not shocked. Maybe in time, we can all see people for who they are and not who they choose to love.

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