Bill O'Reilly's cheaky Maureen Dowdesque article via Cousin finally helped me to comprehend why we're all fired up about Buster and his gay-marriage-allowing-Vermont visit to the maple-sugar-loving-lesbian-household.
O'Reilly sets the stage for us:
For those of you unfamiliar with Buster, he is a curious rabbit that hops around on public TV introducing small children to the wonders of American life. In one of his adventures, Buster showed up in Vermont to check out the maple syrup industry, and wound up surrounded by a bunch of lesbians and their children. The connection between the syrup business and lesbians was never really explained, but Buster posed for a picture with the group, and looks very happy.
Then he sets up the drama for us. As I mentioned in my previous post, the new Secretary of Education, Margaret Spellings "wasn't happy and fired off a letter to PBS saying that federal money should not be used to 'introduce this kind of subject matter to chilren.' Since the Public Broadcasting Service gets around $80 million dollars a year in taxpayer funds, that kind of letter gets PBS' attention fast."
Then Congressman Barney Frank stepped into the fray writing to Spellings: "You have said familiies should not have to deal with reality of the existence of same-sex couples, the strong implication is that this is something from which young children should be shielded."
Well, yeah, Barn, that's correct. Many Americans believe that little kids should have a childhood and not be subjected to any kind of sexuality. I don't want to be offensive here, but who in their right mind wants to explain Norma and Barbara's lifestyle to their four-year-old? Give the kids a break, okay?
It is well known that many in the communications business believe that a subliminal "gay is okay" message is imperative to foster tolerance in America. On paper, the theory looks good, and is good if the child is mature enough to process the situation. But introducing homosexuality into the little kid culture angers many Americans who believe sex in general is an inappropriate topic for small children, and that is a legitimate point of view whether Barney Frank or PBS likes it or not.
What Cousin pointed out to me, though, in an email is that we expose kids to sexuality every day.
O'Reilly points this out by saying that kids today are over-sexualized through the media etc. But this isn't Cousn's point. Her point is one that sexuality is everywhere. And not just the over-the-top media and advertising sex that O'Reilly is talking about. Kids are made aware of sexuality from cues galore from their parent's and friend's parents holding hands, to kissing a casual good-bye, to their friend's older siblings talking about their boyfriends and girlfriends. They are made aware of sexuality from nearly all the Disney shows on the planet.
The FYO regularly talks about falling in love at first sight and being wisked off to the palace for the glorious nuptial ball and her honeymoon in Florida (her place where all good things must exist because grandma and grandpa make their regular winter pilgrimage there).
So why do we make such a fuss of Buster?
Cousin asked "were the 'bunch of lesbians' in the show making out and doin' it while they made the syrup?? Let me know."
No. Of course, they weren't. As I mentioned in my previous post, were you not paying attention, you may not have even understood the subtext of the show. The point is, and thank you Cousin and O'Reilly for helping me to figure it out again, that we need good models of gay and lesbian folks that are just in the background. In our everyday life. So that it won't seem so strange and bizarre when kids do grow up and deal with the tough issues that society presents.
While O'Reilly's question is obvious and relatively correct -- no I don't want to explain every detail of the lesbian's lifestyle to even my FYO (see my story on Girls Can't Marry Girls in which I pose the difficulty of talking about the politics of marriage to the FYO)... No. But that's not the point. If our FYO, his FYO, the Cousin's 1 and 3YO's grow up with this issue on the normal radar then maybe we will have gotten a bit closer to a society that accepts people's choices.
God forbid O'Reilly's kid turns out to be gay him or herself. When, Bill, should your kid begin to be exposed to an image that makes him or her feel like it is o.k. to be him or herself?