Explaining bigotry to a child


Last night my parents (mother and stepfather) and I had dinner out with my brother, sister-in-law and (their two kids) my niece and nephew. About halfway through the dinner my nephew asked me “Uncle Stephen, why don’t you and grandpa (my biological father) talk to each other?” I was a little taken aback by this question, and looked to my brother to see if it was ok to answer, and heĀ assented. So I told my nephew that I believe strongly that all people should be treated equally in this world, and that his grandpa and I had had a disagreement about that several years ago. I explained that I had told Grandpa that it was important to me that he accept me as a gay person the same as everyone else, and that I deserved the same rights as everyone else. I told him that despite many differences of opinion on many subjects, everyone else in my life accepted this without any sort of problem, and that it was important to me that these people accepted and supported my equality as I did theirs. I explained to my nephew that I believed all people are equal and deserve the same rights and treatment in our world, and he nodded his understanding. My brother’s family is very close friends with a gay couple with a daughter, and there are several gay people in the lives and environment around their kids, including me and my cousins, so they are very familiar with this type of diversity. My brother and sister-in-law have been wonderful parents, raising their kids with a strong sense of fairness, acceptance, and celebration of difference in the world. I then explained to my nephew that just because his grandpa did not accept me did not mean he loved my nephew any less, and that I hoped for his and everyone’s happiness despite our differences.

In the long run, we will all be dead.


I am disheartened by the results in Maine. And although happy about the (seeming) victory in Washington, for me Maine was the more important battle. Here’s why: Maine was about treating people equally in the eyes of the law, whereas Washington is still about letting you lesser folks have your own, separate drinking fountain. Sure, a drinking fountain when you are thirsty is better than no water at all. But it still says you are something different and most definitely not equal in all ways before the law. That people are so willing, still, in this day and age to discriminate against others is a kick in the gut. I know (and even the crazy right wing knows) that despite our fits and starts, one day our legal equality will happen. This is a foregone conclusion at this point. But the last gasps of the haters and their twisted logic is truly an ugly thing to behold. In the long run, I believe we will eventually have equal rights in this country. Of course, in the long run, we will all be dead.