I realize that our parents are from a different generation - I really do. Most of us are Generation Xers or Millennials. (I'm less than two months away from being a Millennial so forgive my using that label for myself.) Our parents are baby boomers or, shock and horror, signed up for the AARP. My parents are in the latter cate-gory. Both of my folks were born shortly after their fathers shipped out to serve in WWII. (Imagine that one in my father's voice. He says "Dubble-ya dubble-ya two". It's fairly amusing.) I understand that they grew up under radically different cir-cumstances (and had to walk twenty-miles uphill both ways in freezing tempera-tures with rags on their feet just to get a chance to do algebra with a broken pencil.) But that doesn't forgive certain things. . . like ignorance.
A few weeks ago, mid-February, we got into a discussion about AIDS at the din-ner table. I'm imagining that it was begun because of ER (oh, how I miss George Clooney. Need a fix, too? Check out From Dusk 'Til Dawn. He has a tattoo that you'll want to lick by the end of the movie.). At any rate, my father took his cue to begin making various comments about AIDS, etc. You know how all of those AIDS programs we have to sit through in school seem so useless? I mean, those of us who listen already know and the kids that don't listen skipped the assembly to have unprotected sex in the parking lot. ("What do you mean 'unprotected'? I pulled out in time!") Well, my father could use on of those programs. He actually said . . .
I'd like to take a moment to assure you that my typing of this statement does not in any way, shape or form mean that I agree with or endorse his statement. Frankly, I nearly stabbed him with a butter knife.
Okay. He said "After all, AIDS is a gay and druggie disease." My sister and I sat there in shock. There are certain opinions that you are told exist but you never be-lieve. Until I heard it from someone's mouth in college, I never believed that anyone my age thought blacks shouldn't date whites. That to me is unfathomable. My reaction to my father's comment was the same. They say that some people think that heteros don't get AIDS unless they sleep with a gay. Surely that idea died out in the eighties along with crimped hair - right? Nope. It's living in my father (who, thank God, doesn't have enough mechanical know how to work a crimping iron.) After recovering from my shock I tried to explain the truth to him. Well, as it turns out (in "The World according to Mr. Bigot") all of the AIDS statistics that show that the heterosexual AIDS population is rising fast are actually faked by the liber-als. Okay, I thought it was dumb when Hillary blamed her troubles on a vast con-spiracy of people who hate people from Arkansas but this one took the cake. "The liberals are trying to make me, Mr. Average middle-class white straight guy, think that I could get AIDS too. But that's not gonna' happen." Apparently, neither is an invitation to join Mensa.
Okay, it's not just my parents either. I was on the phone with my bud, Josh (I don't know how he'll feel about me using 'Josh' instead of his real name but I'm running a little late for opinions.) We were talking about a guy I know when I heard a voice in the background call "What are you talking about gay people for? Who's gay? Who are you talking to?" It was Josh's dad. (For the record, Josh's dad is a little . . . off. I keep expecting him to pull out a shotgun and yell "We're going to defend this trailer" ala 'Mars Attacks'.) Josh sighed angrily. His father had been listening to his half of the conversation and needed to reassure himself (incorrectly) that his son was 120% straight. "One of these days," Josh said. "One of these days, he's going to be saying 'Who's gay' and I'm going to say 'I'm not but I think that the guy I was kissing last night might be.'"
You'd think that his dad would be happy. I mean, Josh is (in my humble opinion) sex on a stick. He gets a very fair share of girls and can be down-right testosterone laden. Occasionally, he swishes. It happens. (He even makes that sexy to a hetero chick like myself.) But, it's not like he's bringing anonymous males home at all hours of the night. "Hi, Dad. Sorry that I'm in past curfew. By the way, this is An-thony." In retrospect, non-anonymous males would almost be worse. "Hi, Dad. Sorry I'm past curfew. You remember Mr. Smith, my high school drama teacher."
When you grow up, and become the 'queer adults' rather than the 'queer and questioning youth', you will raise your children correctly. They will have knowl-edge and such knowledge destroys fear. Your children will never have to lie to you about the gender of a friend's significant other. Your children will laugh at the jokes on old reruns of 'Will & Grace' instead of having to feign disgust. Your children will be leaders and will enlighten the lives of other kids, the kids of Generation Xers that just never got the message. And the world will be a better place.
Random comments for you all: - Would forcing Falwell to watch Teletubbies 24 hours a day be a totally appropriate punishment for his idiocy? - I was totally thrilled with the two-parter on Dawson's Creek about Jack's sexuality. I thought it was great that they dealt with the problem of coming out, the question of whether it is a choice and the church's stance on the matter. What did you guys think of the whole thing? - I vaguely remember promising a column about some possibly-deeply-closeted people who have foiled my gaydar. It will happen. I swear. April, maybe. - This one wasn't all that funny, I'll give you that. I'm trying, I really am.
Julie is a 19-year-old het sophomore at a teeny-tiny university in Illinois (state motto: we got corn.) She was always liked Jack on Dawson's Creek so you just knew he'd turn out gay, didn't you? E-mail goes to MazzyMae@aol.com.