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What Does Breastfeeding Have to Do with Gay Pride?

time magazine new york pride parade

Time Magazine / New York Pride Parade

I’m going to step up on a soap box for a few hundred words here and offer some editorial on the big headlines of the week.

I am fully behind Babble‘s Love Bomb in response to Time Magazine‘s cover shot with Jamie-Lynne Grumet breastfeeding her 4-year-old and the “Are You Mom Enough?” headline. Still, it’s necessary to look at the tactics being used in the process and how they’re setting things back further than moving them forward.

In a Q&A associated with the attention-grabbing cover shoot, Jamie-Lynne Grumet admitted breastfeeding 3-, 4-, 5-, and 6-year-olds is “not socially normal. The more people see it, the more it’ll become normal in our culture. That’s what I’m hoping. I want people to see it.”

But placing something so shocking on the front page of Time Magazine is not going to underline the acceptance of breastfeeding; it’s merely shining a big, bright spotlight on the belief that this practice is bizarre.

It’s like the flashy gay pride parades — by being shocking and in-your-face, you do more harm than good.

Those who are against the gay lifestyle fear it as predatory, call it immoral, and are disgusted by the blatant sexuality of it. And wouldn’t you know it, Gay Pride Parades are an all-out assault on the senses of ball gags, bare-assed chaps, and pelvic thrusts. Everything the people fear about gay people confirmed in one sunny afternoon parade down Main St. that’s billed as a “family event.”

One of my best friends is gay. My friend and his husband are mostly just like you and me. While they don’t have kids, they have a dog. They both have jobs, they enjoy quiet nights on their patio with a bottle of wine, they go to movies, dinner, and concerts. They have relationship ups and downs, and a mortgage to worry about.

Sure, there are outliers who sleaze around the clubs (no more so than 20-something co-eds on spring break), but most gay people are just like you and me. They love, they laugh, they go to work. They’re not pedophiles. They’re not sex-crazed shoe-tappers in bathroom stalls. They’re normal, regular, middle-of-the-road people who just happen to love someone of the same gender.

A few years back we went to the Gay Pride Parade together to offer support to the community. We haven’t been back since.

Shocking people with your behavior to get them to talk about you doesn’t make people think you’re normal, or think you’re just like them – it confirms their belief that you’re different.

If gay people are to be accepted as a regular part of society, confirming the fears of the opposition is not the way to do it.

“I think same-sex couples should be able to get married,” Barack Obama plainly and clearly stated this week. He did it in a sit-down interview, not on stage dressed in drag. He made it seem normal, acceptable, and perfectly reasonable.

What Time Magazine and Jamie Lynn Grumet have done is parade their beliefs on every newsstand in the most extreme way possible. It got people to notice, but they’re not noticing the right thing. Instead of supporting breastfeeding as a perfectly natural, safe, and healthy thing to do, Ms. Grumet chose a shocking presentation of her beliefs.

To be honest, I’m shocked at how breastfeeders feel unaccepted and how they feel the need to have nurse-in flash mobs and protests. To me breastfeeding is a natural way to feed your kids and not some political football that needs to be juggled. I don’t know if a militant and aggressive attitude is what’s going to change people’s minds. Being discreet, doing it when you need to do it, and just being natural about it is the approach to take.

Shocking people with your behavior to get them to talk about you doesn’t make people think you’re normal, or think you’re just like them — it confirms their belief that you’re different. And to some, different is scary.

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Image Credit: Time and Betty X1138

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