In an article Published in USA Today titled “Both sides on gay adoption cite concern for children”, a reflection not only on gays adopting children comes into debate, but also how by doing so can help ensure a child’s well being and keeping them out of prison. A step into the lives of Harold Birtcher and Thom O’Reailly, a couple from Ohio who have been together for over 25 years, address that when traveling to the state of Oregon to adopt a child, were denied the advantage. Butcher mentioned that in this occasion, “no one is stepping up to adopt these children”, in turn, leaving them in the hands of both abusive families (both biological and foster care families) and over-crowded, sometimes unsanitary orphanage’s.
Children, in these situations, tend to look for, and find, dangerous outlets that put them in contact with drugs, gang life, or worse, prison life, in order to fill the void of a family life (or poor family life) they lack. The situation most certainly creates a double standard. Birtcher says that “our prisons are full of people who were in foster care, and those people were in, quote unquote, straight family homes. If I can provide a loving, stable home, that’s the goal.” This in turn raises further questions of fair adoption to couples, although homosexual, can provide a loving stable home for a child in need.
In a study conducted by the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) cite that children with gay or lesbian parents “fare as well as those raised in families with a mother and a father.” Other studies have determined that these children receive equal nourishment and have the same opportunities, both in child and later adult life, as ones to a heterosexual couple. The article states that there are about 520,000 children in foster care and are in desperate need of adoption. The issues surrounding gays allowing to adopt is in desperate need of recognition in order to allow children in foster care a chance to lead a normal, positive life and allow a couple that opportunity to provide them with love.
In class we have discussed people that come from all different aspects of queerness and race. Throughout this semester, I have been very intrigued by the word “queerness.” I feel that each class I am constantly considering new ways that the word can be used and interpreted. A couple of weeks back we discussed the idea of marriage and how it can relate to queerness. I’ve been considering a lot of the comments made that day and have been most intrigued by the intricacies of where queerness begins and ends.
For example, a non-married 24-year-old might represent a “norm” but once she hits 32? Dear God, watch out for that queer crone. Yet, a divorced forty-year-old at this point in our society represents a norm like any other. (God forbid that same forty year old was never married. Can we say coockoo?)
To take this matter further to a topic not delved into while in class, I wanted to shine some light on another aspect of marriage as it applies to society today. In a world where certain strides have been made in the acceptance of queer individuals, I think it is interesting to think of people who initially joined in the practice of heterosexual marriage and are now “coming out.” Whether this be as cross dressers, homosexuals, transgendered individuals, or anything else, these types of changes can produce a queerness explosion. Suddenly, because marriage initially took place, we are introduced to the “Queer Family.” Children with queer parents, queer spouses, queer grandparents! Unfortunately, I have not been able to find specific statistics on this type of thing, but did find some links that might be helpful in providing more information on the issue.
STORIES OF SOME INDIVIDUALS WHO CAME OUT AFTER MARRIAGE
WEBSITE THAT PROVIDES SUPPORT FOR STRAIGHT SPOUSES.
It is put together by “Current and former Straight Spouses/Partners of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender people, Mixed Orientation Couples and our Families and Friends.”
MOVEMENT DEVELOPED FOR KIDS WITH ONE OR MORE LGBTQ PARENT.
I find some of the research and “facts” to be pushing it a bit, but appreciate the movement.
The mug crashed to the floor. The coffee pooled at her feet but my mother did not even blink. “What do you mean, you like girls? ¡Tú no sabes lo que dices!”
I couldn’t bring myself to look at her but I said” Yes I do know what I’m saying mami. I don’t date boys. I don’t like them. I can’t hide who I am anymore.”
She just stood there in the puddle of coffee, staring at me as if I had suddenly grown a horn in the middle of my forehead. Finally, she stretched her mouth in a weird way that was supposed to be a smile. “You’re just joking right? It’s not funny! You, a lesbiana? Don’t ever joke like that again!”
I took a deep breath and looked her in the eyes. “Es la verdad,” I told her. “I’m not playing Mami. I’m a lesbian. I have a girlfriend. Se llama Ana and I love her with all my heart and if I keep hiding it then it would be like admitting there’s something wrong with that. Pero yo sé, there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s why I’m telling you.”
For a split second, I hoped she would hug me and tell me everything was fine. Silly me. The next thing I knew, she was smacking me with the loaf of wheat bread that had been on the breakfast table. “Get out!” she screamed at me. “Get out of my house right now! You weren’t raised to be a pervert! Get out, get out, get out!”
“Mami,” I cried, “What are you saying? I’m your daughter!”
She yanked the door open and shoved me out. “No you’re not mi hija anymore! ¡Mejor muerta que lesbiana!” With that, she slammed the door in my face.
Explanation: the above is what I imagine would happen if I came out to my mother. Though I’m not gay, it’s always fun to come up with things that upset her. And NOTHING would upset a strict, overbearing, Catholic, and Latina mom then a dyke daughter. However, it seems like everytime I watch a tv show or read a fiction book where someone comes out of the closet, the family is very accepting. But I’ve also noticed that the family is usually white. That’s because tolerance and understanding of queerness just doesn’t happen in a Latino family. My parents are blatant homophobes and there’s absolutely no way you can say anything to change their minds. Trust me , I’ve tried. Just last week I overheard them talking about how children that are adopted by gay couples will just be abused and grow up to be gay themselves. I think the worst thing I’ve heard my father say was that gays should be burned alive. Who the fuck says that about another human being??
The vast majority of my friends have parents that are the same way. I wonder if this is particular to having grown up in Latin America decades ago? Is it because of religion/church teachings? Is it because Latino culture is very focused on traditional gender roles and men are supposed to be macho? I just don’t get it. As Latinos, we are judged harshly all the time. People assume we don’t speak English, we’re illegal, we don’t pay taxes, we’re stealing jobs. And they hate us for it. So why does our culture foster hate for others when we know how painful that behavior can be?
Following our discussion on the relation between responsibility and pleasure, specifically that the two are often thought to be developmental stages and, to some extent, mutually exclusive (for instance, Freud argues that babies are narcissists while heterosexual adults have learned altruism), I am wondering about what feels like a responsibility to be outrageous. Perhaps another way to phrase it, not as an alternative, but as a think-along-with might be the responsibility to perform a particular kind of queerness (or something designated AS queerness).
While this “responsibility” shares something with the tokenism broached by AJ and suggested, albeit implicitly, by Connor, I am interested (or troubled) by how it functions to contain what might be radical, or perhaps a better word is rude or impolitic about a kind of queer presence, a queer embodidness. Here, the “image” of the queer as somehow “image”–well-dressed, fabulous, interesting, the “men” who “never age like other men”–serves hetero-masculinities and is, in some fundamental way, contained.
Might it be possible, then, to take Delaney as a point of departure to think of practices of pleasure and pleasantness, the “nice” and the “fun,” that are deeply crucial to queer survival? And I raise the specter, the ever-present specter, of survival because it seems so absent from the pleasure side of the pleasure-responsibility divide.
This is not to say that queerness, or certain versions of queerness, should not serve hetero-masculinities, but that such service should neither truncate certain queer versions and visions of pleasure and pleasantness, nor should it abstain from critiquing those forms of hetero-masculinities. (And the debate on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell raises really interesting points in the kinds of masculinities it seeks to protect and promote.)
More broadly, I am interested in the social function of pleasure and pleasantness. I have in mind a scene from Modern Family in which intimate pleasure is divorced from familial responsibility, in which to enjoy pleasure is to take a “vacation” from certain kinds of hetero-responsibilities. What might this vision of hetero-responsibilities truncate or otherwise make invisible? Might there be a way that Delaney’s advocacy of pleasantness and pleasure might help us to have a more holistic view of hetero-responsibilities (what might be called heterosexual adulthood)?
I find myself amused, and troubled, by reactions to the much-anticipated Tim Elbow ad. Tracy Clark-Flory on Salon writes,
Are you kidding me? That was what all the controversy was about? A poorly-written 30-second spot set to upbeat elevator music? I missed the Puppy Bowl for that?
The ad, she complains, was not terribly conservative, not even “obviously” pro-life. It was cheesy, set to “upbeat elevator music.” Nothing to see here, folks. Move on. It was, as she puts it “that.”
This that worries me, because it is a profound misreading of how what might be termed cultural politics, or better, cultural advocacy, functions. For Clark-Flory, the ad’s message lies in its presentation. And while she acknowledges that it leads us to the Focus on the Family website, where more explicitly pro-life and anti-gay material is available, she still sees the ad as a singular event, not as simply one part of an unfolding whole.
This singular event, this that , can be dismissed, or so she claims.
But what if the ad is not a singular event? What if, instead, it is an assemblage of all the debates that swirled around it? What if it includes CBS’s decision not to air a pro-gay ad? What if it includes the racist, sexist, and homophobic ads aired? And what does Clark-Flory miss in assuming that cheesy ads do not have a certain cultural power?
Clark-Flory misses that cultural products seek consent. They invite us to share common values, to affirm shared principles. In doing so, they create us as particular kinds of communities. Not “we hate gays” or “support abortion,” but “we value family life.”
If we re-embed this ad in the circumstances of its production, we might read a script that goes something like this. This ad values family life. It is being shown in lieu of a gay ad, that is, an ad that does not value family life. Value family life.
To value family life in this scenario requires one to take a position against the gay ad that was replaced, the one that devalued family life: the cheesy image of a mother and her loving son beats two average looking gay guys fake kissing anytime.
In looking for a more aggressive, more “political” ad, Clary-Flory missed the politics of this particular one. And that is a shame.