It’s Not All Mary Poppins

A different world

Emma, who had left the house a few moments ago, clad in her usual classy stylishness, reappears in the front hall.

“Forget something, sweetie?”

“Yeah. Today’s Wear Pink Day, to support gay rights.”

She’s wearing an oatmeal shrug over short dark green dress, brown tights, and tan suede ankle boots. No pink in sight.

“If I don’t wear pink, everyone will think I’m a homophobe.”

I cast back to my high school days, thirty years ago. While I don’t recall any actual harrassment of gay students, this is most likely because a) I was insulated in my straight ghetto, and b) they were all staying firmly in a nice, safe closet somewhere. And who could blame them? Homosexuality was disparaged. It was gross, it was perverted, it was the subject of sniggering, and always a perjorative. “That’s so gay!” “You faggot!” How many teens have the courage to brave that, with no outside support at all?

Emma comes downstairs in a purple dress, a pink pashmina draped around her neck and across one shoulder.

“There! Now I can go to school!”

We’ve come a long way, baby.

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April 13, 2010 - Posted by | my kids, Ottawa | , ,

8 Comments »

  1. You done raise her right!

    Thank you. While I’ve certainly done my best to instill the idea that everyone is worthy of respect (at least until their behaviour forfeits it), I’m not sure how much credit I can take here. Society has changed/is changing, and it’s reflected in the mores of the school she attends. While, so I’m told, you do hear “that’s so gay” used as an insult at school, the people who say that tend to be regarded as losers expressing an old-style prejudice. It’s a positive change, for sure.

    Comment by jwg | April 14, 2010 | Reply

  2. good for her!

    She’s a good kid.

    Comment by Jill in Atlanta | April 14, 2010 | Reply

  3. Good for Emma!

    I agree!

    Comment by Clementine | April 14, 2010 | Reply

  4. What struck me is that Emma was concerned about being thought of as a homophobe for not wearing something pink.

    I wonder if there aren’t less potentially alienating ways to approach social awareness? No kid should be labeled anything just because they forgot to wear a certain colour on a certain day.

    Maybe some kids have exams and part-time jobs on their minds?

    Though the issues have changed, still seems like the same high school mentality to me.

    Teens are teens are teens. Like every other human on the planet, they form groups. Because they are young humans, they can be harsh about it… but this was a fun activity, done in a fun way, no harshness that Emma found. Emma was not seriously concerned about being ostracized; she was joking.

    Me, I find it rather heart-warming. The thing being criticized is a bad thing, and a group that not so very long ago, suffered very real persecution (and still does, in many places), is now being supported and included in the mainstream.

    And while it’s true that social pressures are being used, well, this is a social issue. Isn’t it far better that the pressure is being exerted in a positive direction? If Emma had shown up at school without something pink, she would have approached a friend, squealed a bit about having forgotten, and probably borrowed a scarf or something. But for true homophobes, they are being shown that their hatefulness is not acceptable in their school, that any hateful behaviours will be met with disapprobation — and that can only be a good thing.

    I see nothing to criticize here.

    Comment by Sheri | April 14, 2010 | Reply

  5. I think that’s a lovely thing to do.

    Me, too, and I only found out after Emma’s return home that it wasn’t just her school — it was a board-wide event, all the dozens of schools in the city and environs.

    Comment by Mwa | April 14, 2010 | Reply

  6. I believe the ‘wear pink’ day is larger than just your city. I vaguely remember there being a story about a boy in the maritimes somewhere (Halifax?) who was being harassed because he was gay and the student body there decided to wear pink to support him. It hit the news and grew from there. I wish I could remember more about the original story.

    You’re right! I remember that story, but until you mentioned it, I hadn’t put them together. Here’s the original Wear Pink event, and here’s a follow-up. So there you have it: Wear Pink day started in Nova Scotia in 2007, the creative response of two fine young men to the bullying of a gay fellow-student.

    Comment by Sarah | April 14, 2010 | Reply

  7. Ouch.

    Honestly, I simply mistook Emma’s concern for being labeled a homophobe as a genuinely serious worry on her part. That’s where I was coming from.

    I apologize for the misunderstanding.

    Apology accepted.

    I read your comment as disparaging a truly worthy endeavour because it wasn’t entirely flawless.

    However, on second reading, it’s clear to me that your interpretation was perfectly reasonable. I said nothing to indicated Emma’s state of mind, and, given that she’s a teen, it’s logical to hear anxiety in her comments, not the irony with which they were made in real life. But you werent here. You couldn’t know that, and I didn’t explain.

    It seems I owe you an apology, too. Sorry for coming down so hard on you for responding with concern to a perfectly reasonable interpretation!

    Comment by Sheri | April 15, 2010 | Reply

  8. Oh! Ha, is that why Pumpkinpie came home the other ngiht saying she had forgotten to wear pink! (though we hadn’t been given a heads-up that she should have) Well, that explains it. I’ve been stomach flu sick, so anything outside of my home’s walls has been passing me by. Oops. (Good thing she was wearing pink anyhow)

    Comment by kittenpie | April 15, 2010 | Reply


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