Straight Talk about the T in LGBTQ+ 

I arrived on this planet on December 3rd, 1962 as a gay male in conservative middle America. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to relocate to liberal east coast America. I hadn’t been out here for long before becoming involved with the D.C. chapter of PFLAG, Parents Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. 

This was in February of 2001, a time when marriage equality was still a distant dream. Even some of the liberal politically connected didn’t expect us to see it in our lifetime. I distinctly recall taking a bit of exception to biseuxal and transgender folks sticking their noses under our lesbian and gay tent. At that time, in my mind, finding acceptance and gaining rights for lesbian and gay folks was hard enough as it was. 

I felt that the actual diversity of naturally occurring variants in human sexuality was simply more challenging and frightening than most people were capable of or willing to deal with. Straight conservative folks would be doing well if they could just first wrap their minds around the concept of lesbians and gays. I selfishly thought that a push to include acceptance and rights for bi and trans people could get in the way of me getting my own acceptance and rights, so therefore bi and trans people just needed to chill out and wait their turn. Ugh! What an awful person I was capable of being in the past. 

Celebrating this diversity can be complicated, but talking about it openly and honestly helps.  

I assume that most people agree that coed locker rooms for middle and high school students would be inappropriate for obvious reasons. Well, given the existence of same-sex attractions and relationships in these early stages of life, mustn’t we ask ourselves whether same-gender communal locker rooms are inappropriate for the same obvious reasons? I knew I was gay years before I even knew what gay was, but when we had to start getting naked in front of each other in the fifth grade, I definitely knew I liked looking at other naked guys. It wasn’t appropriate. But I was a curious and horny adolescent. What was I gonna do? Not look?

With regard to competitive sports, I’m sorry, but I don’t think it’s fair for cisgender women to have to compete with transgender women. But I also don’t see why every damn thing has to be a competition. If trans women want to play sports as their authentic selves, maybe there could be a separate league for them. 

When it comes to Drag Queen story time, where transgender women read to elementary school kids: Just give it age-appropriate context. Responsible sex education should begin in early elementary schools. I think we’re far more Puritanical than is helpful for healthy sexual development, and helping kids learn about options beyond the gender binary could be good for them. 

I was probably around 10 or 11 when my mother sat me down and explained the birds and the bees to me in very rudimentary terms. The man puts his thing in a woman’s thing and something passes from the man into the woman and that’s how babies were made. I don’t even recall what they taught us in school. But I definitely recall my first orgasm and a light immediately went on. Oh, so this is the thing mom was talking about that passes from the man into the woman to make a baby. And boy was it fun, even without a woman. It’s a shame that most adolescents’ sex education doesn’t include more guidance on a healthy psychology with regard to being sexually active. A whole chapter should be devoted to respect for one’s partners. Not to mention self respect.  

I’m nearly 60, and around 30 years ago I realized that while thankfully not an eye witness I was most definitely an ear witness to my youngest sister’s conception. There was no door on my parents’ room nor mine and my sister’s room. One day it just occurred to me that the creepy memories of hearing my parents having loud, wild, bed-leg-busting sex took place around nine months before my sister Carol was born. (And I mean that literally. They humped so hard and so often that three out of four corners of their bed were held up with coffee cans due to the legs having been broken off. Now that, I assume, was some very satisfying sex.) Thankfully, shortly thereafter, mom and dad moved their bedroom downstairs. 

It’s an unfortunate reality that issues around sex and sexuality are icky to a lot of people and open doors to conversations parents don’t want to have with their kids. The reasons vary and some are understandable. Some parents wish for their children to maintain a state of innocence for as long as possible. I don’t fault them for that. But how realistic is it given the realities of variants of human sexuality that often begin manifestations at early stages of life? 

Other parents simply feel underqualified to engage in such conversations with their kids. So somebody needs to write a “for dummies” book, something along the lines of, “How to Talk to Your Kids about Sex in Age-Appropriate Terms.”

Sex and sexuality are marvelous gifts to be embraced openly, not hidden inside a closet. That’s how kids, at times irreparably, grow to become deeply damaged adults. Suicide rates are higher among LGBTQ+ youth. That’s a statistical fact. We as so-called “brave” Americans, can, should, and must do better. 

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