Saw this article on Planetout today:
Ronnie Paris Jr., 21, of Tampa, Florida is accused of abusing his 3-year-old son in an effort to prevent him from being gay, until the boy slipped into a coma and died.It reminded me of a conversation I had with my brothers a few months ago. Before Kristin and I knew that our fetus was of the female persuasion, my brothers told me that they were hoping we'd have a boy because that way he'd be more likely to be straight. No, they put it stronger than that. They said that for its own sake, they hoped our child was a boy, and if it was a girl, they hoped that we would not selfishly (or blindly) deny the girl the ability to date boys. So, apparantly as lesbians we would only allow our children to date women. Thus if we had a girl, she would be forced into dykehood, but if we had a boy he would be spared a faggy fate.
I was shocked, I was appalled. Not at the logic, but at the fact that that logic was coming from my own family; the family I thought was understanding and supportive and hipper than that. I replied that I hope my child will turn out queer as a Confederate bill. Then it was their turn to be shocked and appalled. I modified my statement. Not a retraction, but a clarification: Since I see nothing to mourn in the fact of gayness, I have absolutely no problem with the thought of the possibility of having a gay child. And further, not only will I not limit the gender/sex of possible dates for my daughter, I will also not be upset (nor read too much into) if she dates first one sex then the other, then back to the first (and I'm not even going to attempt to place restrictions on the gender-expressions of said dates). And if my child turns out to be straight? Well, I'll love and support her and make certain that there're condoms available (though I don't think I could bring myself actually to hand them to her).
So back to the article: I'll be watching this trial as closely as I've been watching the trials of seperated lesbian parents. Why? because I'm paranoid. And because if this man actually uses the gay panic defense, and it shows any signs of working, I'm packing up my child and I'm getting the hell out of Dodge. Why would a man be afraid that his son was gay? Maybe because he is afraid that he is gay himself? Or maybe because he is afraid that other people might think he is gay and be looking to the son as evidence "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree". But if a man can kill his own son out of fear of gayness -- if someone can think of a 3-year-old that it would be better to kill them than to let them possibly grow up to be gay -- and if that man has ANY KIND of public sympathy, then what's to stop other such preemptive strikes? Why wait until the sin's been committed? Get 'em while they're young and their souls are still pure. There's already enough hysteria around children and queerness (can children be gay? at what age do children become gay? when is it too late to stop the queerness from setting in? if we let gays have kids will they make gay kids? will those kids be gay because of nature or nurture?) that toddler gay-bashing seems at once progressive (the logical step between adult-bashing and aborting gay fetuses) and medieval (the time-honored tradition of choosing the fetus over the mother because the mother has already sinned while the fetus is still pure) while, for a large part of the population, the underlying logic that children must be saved from being gay remains strong and unchallenged.
That sentiment, as spoken to me by my own family, reveals this man not as an anomaly, but as a boogey-man made real -- the manifestation of a deeply-held cultural obsession.
How long does the Canadian winter last again? Maybe I should stock up on some of those ultraviolet lights, in case my partner and I (and our forcibly gay kid) need to make a run for it.