My roommate was catching up on one of the gazillion shows that she DVR’s and got excited when she saw two gay characters kissing. Gasp! Gay men kissing! On national TV!
I was, admittedly, a bit curmudgeonly about this and said “What’s the big deal?” I have seen in the UK and Canada several TV shows that include gay roles without making sexual orientation a significant plot line or defining characteristic. My roommate explained that the show she was watching is set in Tennessee where being gay is still not acknowledged as being a normal state of affairs, or state of marriages for that matter. My response was that Tennesseans should get over it.
We then shared stories about when we first realized that we had family members or close friends who were homosexual, and laughed about how funny it was that our families did not discuss such things. Now that I think about it, though, my family did not discuss sexuality at all, so the likelihood that we would talk about gay or lesbian sex was less than zero.
When I was about thirteen, I remember that one of my sisters and I were in the front room of our house listening to music when our mother came in with a copy of Woman magazine. She explained that the magazine was offering for sale a book that explained sexuality, and she asked us if we wanted her to get a copy for us. We looked at each other and both said we didn’t think so, thanks anyway. My sister and I did not know what it was that we didn’t know. Sadly, that was the sum total of the sex education I received from my parents.
I did get a little more information at school. At my high school in the 1960’s boys were taught physics and chemistry while girls were taught biology. The school probably should have reversed that plan so that the boys would actually learn the proper names for body parts, but at the time I suppose they thought it made sense. After all, the girls were all going to be wives, mothers, and nurses, right?
Anyway, it was at my school that a young red-headed Welsh biology teacher blushed when he tried to teach my class about reproduction by using diagrams of rabbits. I kid you not. He struggled to teach us some basic anatomy while we giggled, but I’m not sure that we all made the connection to human sexuality. I know for a fact that homosexuality was not part of the curriculum. Presumably there are no LGBT rabbits.
As it turned out, my first boyfriend had a brother who was gay, and he explained both heterosexuality and homosexuality to me. No, I’m not going to tell you how he did that, but I am grateful.
We have come a long way since then, thank goodness, but we still have not come far enough. There is a group of parents in Ontario who are protesting against children learning in Grade 3 about same-sex relationships. Some think their children should not learn this at all, and others think Grade 3 is too soon. In the absence of reliable teaching, though, children are likely to become either misinformed or not informed at all.
Since it is still risqué for actors playing the parts of gay musicians to kiss on American television, I think we have some ‘splainin’ to do. However, we should probably do it without diagrams of rabbits.
Image source: http://biology.phillipmartin.info/biology_organisms.html