Embarrassing admission time: I had no idea who Harvey Milk was until I started hearing about this movie.
Maybe not embarrassing. I’m actually a little annoyed by this. My mother was living in SF during the riots immediately following his assassination, yet I never knew who he was.
(warning, this is about to turn into a rant against my parents, and against not going far enough)
I posted Arwyn’s piece on raising her kid purple and being aware that not every kid is cis or straight and being open to the idea that your kid might be trans or queer on my Facebook. One of my friends responded by saying “I’m just going to let my kids be themselves.” When I talk to my parents about being queer (they don’t know about my gender issues) my mother talks about “teaching you guys to love the person, not the body.”
Well, revelation time, I didn’t even know that being queer or trans was possible until I figured out that I was queer and a friend told me that she was planning on transitioning. I was 16. I told my mom as soon as I realized, because I did trust her and I wanted her to say she was okay with it. That’s not what I got. I got “well, have you had sex with any of your boyfriends?” “Well, how do you know?” “Don’t you think its just a phase? I mean, you do a lot of things just for attention…”
we didn’t talk about my sexual orientation for almost a decade.
She still believes that because she didn’t threaten me, or kick me out or be physically violent that she was completely supportive. (My dad just sort of ignores the whole thing after making constipation faces when the subject comes up, or makes homophobic jokes about gay men then accuses me of being too sensitive when I point out that those jokes are only funny if you think there is something wrong with being gay. He also has deep insecurities about masculinity, specifically his own, but I think that can make a post in itself.) I’m sure my friend is comfortable leaving her support at “letting them be themselves” without any examination of how her expectations of who they are based on cultural expectations of cis and hetero normativity will give them a very specific message of how much she will support them if they aren’t cis or straight thinks that is enough.
Its not enough.
If it was enough, it wouldn’t have taken me until my twenties to know that someone like Harvey Milk existed, or about Stonewall, or that transitioning from your birth assigned gender was even possible.
When the whole world around us tells us that only straight cis folk are real, we need more than not openly being hateful to be supported.