Talking to Kids About Gay Marriage; How Pop Culture Can HelpYvonne Condes
Thanks to ABC Family’s new series The Fosters for sponsoring this post. Click here to see more of the discussion. Also, watch the series premiere of The Fosters on Monday, June 3 at 9/8c only on ABC Family.
“I don’t know about that,” my son said when I told him about my sister’s wedding. “What don’t you know?” I asked. “Do you not want to wear a tuxedo? Well, I don’t want to pay for it, but sometimes we have to make sacrifices for family.”
It turns out his comment was much more complex than that. This was two years ago when he was 7 and although there were kids at school with two moms, he had never thought about how the two moms became a family. He said he had never heard about two women getting married and wasn’t there supposed to be a guy involved?
I had never thought to talk to my boys about what it meant to be gay because I assumed they knew. My sister has a daughter and an ex-partner who she was with for many years. His teammate on his soccer and basketball teams has two moms. Plus, I had been talking about Proposition 8, a California ballot measure that made same sex marriage illegal, since it was passed in 2008 and until it went in front of Supreme Court in March. He knew about same sex marriage and its historical context just not that it meant that my sister would stand up in a room full of people and declare her love for another woman.
I explained to him that love exists in many ways and it’s perfectly normal for a woman to love a woman and a man to love a man. It’s even legal to marry in some states and hopefully it would soon be in California. Gay marriage is an important civil rights issue and hopefully one that will be long resolved by the time he’s an adult.
Then I turned to pop culture. We watch Glee together sometimes (the musical numbers not the teen angst parts), and American Idol and Modern Family. I pointed out all of the gay actors, singers and characters.
He had that glazed over look that he gets when I’m trying to teach him an important life lesson, but he said he got it and he loved his aunt and he loved her partner and that’s all that mattered. He would wear the tuxedo proudly.
What struck me from our conversation was that gay characters in pop culture are mainstream now, just like in life. That’s why I can’t wait for us to start watching the new show The Fosters on ABC Family. The family in The Fosters is run by two moms who are also an interracial couple with one biological son and two (soon to be 3) foster kids. A program like this is great, because it can show kids how different family types can work and exist just like the “traditional” American family. I’m Mexican American and my boys are half Mexican. My sister and many of our friends are part of multiracial or multiethnic families and we don’t usually think anything of it. Until someone asks.
The more that kids see all types of families represented in pop culture, or sports, or music the more accepting they’ll be. I know that not all of the country is as open minded as our community, but it’s clear that America is changing. You can see it by questions they’re asking and the shows they’re watching.
Just to be clear, I won’t be watching The Fosters just because it deals with issues I care about. I’ll also be watching it because the writing is good, the people are pretty, and I love shows with tough lady police officers. The show premiere’s Monday, June 3.