Happy Valentine’s Day!
The kindergartener in my life has announced that when she grows up she is going to marry either her friend Oliver or her friend Margot. This same kindergartner has also announced that her career ambition is to be shot from a cannon, and that she wants a prairie dog.
While her parents have made it clear that no one is allowed to mention cannons around the kindergartener because they don’t want her launching herself from her upper bunk (again), and I tease them out of earshot that I am going to have a prairie dog town installed in their front yard when they are away on vacation, nobody misses a beat when it comes to whether she is going to grow up to marry a boy or a girl.
The kindergartener gets to take for granted that she can love whoever she loves. She is part of a generation whose parents won’t have to explain that it is illegal (at least for the time being) for girls to marry girls and for boys to marry boys. She has a mom and a dad who don’t see homosexuality as immoral, or controversial, so don’t feel obligated to intervene to “correct” her in exploring her imaginary future.
Do you know what this means? To the kindergartener it doesn’t mean nearly as much as it would to be shot from a cannon with your prairie dog while wearing matching jumpsuits. To me, though, it means this kindergartner is being raised in a family where I am included, too, with no beats missed when it comes to my +1s, and that I can be in the kindergartener’s life as myself. It also means I am not special to them in this regard, because her parents aren’t making accommodations for me specifically, but are fundamentally supportive of gay rights, which, to them, include their daughter’s right to imagine marrying a girl if she wants.
I knew I liked girls by the time I was ten, and believed it was wrong to have these feelings. What happened is that I kept having the feelings and kept believing I was wrong for having them, so my feelings became shame, and I kept them hidden, and, of course, hid with them when it came not just to sexuality and dating, but when it came to feeling like a “normal” person in general. I lived that way until I was in my 20s and fell in love with my first girlfriend, a Christian Education major who had been raised to believe in damnation for gay people.
We had both always been “good kids,” so our attraction to each other came with an enormous price tag of not just guilt, but nonconformity that didn’t suit either of us. My girlfriend and I lived in secret – in plain sight, but as “roommates” and “friends” and “no, we aren’t sisters, we just have the similar haircuts” – for four of our eight years together, because we were ashamed of being gay, afraid for our safety, and so worried about what “people would think” (and some people apparently think a LOT about the bedroom habits of gay people, which is kind of weird if you ask me). How different my life, and my first girlfriend’s life, might have been if being gay was no big deal to us in the same way it is for the kindergartener, starting as early as that.
As Ursula wrote,
The children of the revolution are always ungrateful, and the revolution must be grateful that it is so.
The “revolution” that is me is grateful that my favorite kindergartener never will have to wonder about whether being gay is acceptable, whether she is or isn’t. I am happy thinking about her at school right now exchanging Valentines and loving whoever she decides to love unabashedly, which is how this kindergartner approaches life in general.
I hope she gets fancy Valentines from both Oliver and Margot, and doesn’t get married until she is 30, no matter who she loves.
And now, in honor of Valentine’s Day, and because I have watched this video ten times already this morning, I think you should watch it, too. The kitten alone is worth it. DeAnne Smith is so brilliant I am not even jealous. You should google her. Here is her Nerdy Love Song: