– Phylicia Rashad on No More Down Low
Yesterday I came across a video of Al Franken and Wendy Walsh introducing the Student Non-Discrimination Act at a press conference and it got me thinking about the many recent news stories of mothers, sisters, and brothers advocating for gay human rights after the death of a family member.
In that post I failed to mention so many other family members like Mary Griffith of Prayers for Bobby who became a gay rights activist after her son took his life. In fact I have far too many posts remembering these sons and daughters lost to anti-gay violence at school or at the hands of school age children to mention them all in a single post.
When I start to think about putting faces to the numbers of invisible children lost to anti-gay prejudice I am quick to recall that back in the 80’s the alarming rate of suicide among LGBTQ youth was first quantified so I can knowingly conjecture that many many lives, webs of relationships, and holes have been left in the world by 2011.
In my mind’s eye I flash to a memory of seeing the AIDS quilt on the mall when I was in college..standing at the Homomonument in Amsterdam just a few years ago and I think it is not possible for me to imagine all the individual lives lost to gay hate. I can only think one child and one story at a time.
And I only know of the faces and stories where parents or other family members speak out. Of course there are many other families who stay in the closet and deny their child was targeted for his/her sexual orientation. But there are now more and more family members who stand up and speak out about the persecution their child faced simply for being. And these family members must then face the burden of the same stigma that has harmed or in too many cases has killed their child when they come forward and speak against homophobia.
Most recently in Anoka-Hennepin Tammy Aaberg was ridiculed online and in person when she sat before a school board insisting they bear witness to her son’s anti-gay suicide. And when Wendy Walsh complained about her son’s anti-gay harassment she was pretty much dismissed.
So it comes as little surprise that other family members remain silent or in some cases (remember Lance Lundsten) do their best to deny the entire situation.
But as Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore so aptly put it Nobody Passes. We are all caught up in this thing called gender and sexuality policing pretty deep. Speaking marks us in one way, staying silent in another. So whether one is a member of the family or is the queer child, we all have a vested interest in advocating for the rights of gay babies.
To that end I want to again highlight a new breed of advocate mother that just kept popping up this fall. These truly fierce advocates for gender and sexuality rights have emerged in the realm of mothering. In particular three women stand out to me as examples of a new form of human rights advocacy:
My Princess Boy author and Dyson’s mother Cheryl Kilodavis ,
Raising My Rainbow blogger C.J.’s mom who is raising a slightly effeminate, possibly gay, totally fabulous son;
And fellow blogger Nerdy AppleBottom who wrote a little post about her son’s Halloween costume that has turned into a queer positive movement for both her and for many in the gay community.
And what is unique about these women is that they are each the mother of a kindergarten child.
In the words of Phylicia Rashad they are advocating for the rights of their gay babies…
Regardless of who these children may grow up to love, these parents have seen that at four and five years old – – their little babies are being read as queer and then are being attacked for that difference.
And these parents (mother and father in these three examples) are loving their babies as they are and are advocating for the right to BE.
So preach it Phylicia Rashad.
There are many interesting moments in this short media clip. Phylicia Rashad’s quote is at minute 5:16.