Had a tap replaced in my kitchen sink this am at an unearthly hour. A young bloke who was quite friendly, the plumber, got me talking. Usually I have to start the conversation. He noticed a porcelain sculpture of a banana in pyjamas [with fruit poking out of his flies; sorry, dear, brilliant sculptor, can’t think of your name]. The gallery director had been beside herself, she’d had several offers to buy until the parent saw the fly: [how to explain that to a squirming child?]. So I was able to buy it, bargain. The plumber laughed, he thought it was GOLD. I said it was bought during a Mardi Gras festival years ago. He told me of his gay uncle and the looks he got from people when he went out with the same sex couple. His girlfriend, incidentally, is a traffic cop.
I said these days my expectations of the public are reduced to “mostly harmless”; my tradesman said, unfortunately people weren’t. I went back to bed after the plumber has finished & left; the night before, waiting to meet a new tradie is a mostly sleepless affair. But I thought about parents raised gay kids and how everything might change.
Firstly the arrival of a gay child had to be better than a dud present for the parental units: no longer an “oh well”. Yes gay means more thought, more care, but that’s a present not easily discarded, one where the recipient grows alongside the gift.
Let me tell my mom’s version: she was a virgoan mum, salt of the earth, earth goddess, born in Slovenia, post WW2 reffo in Italy, shipped to Oz. She saw me as gay straight off; I remember copping a lot of anti-gay morality stories in my early years. Like the one about an older man hanging suspiciously around a gang of young bloods who traipsed around, shouting & singing all night. He was found one morning hanging on a fence, bloodied, stone cold, dead. Just desserts, she said. She knew, consciously or unconsciously, I was a bit of a prissy, fussy child.
NOW, if parents welcome their gay child, not just as a changeling, a child might not have to internalise that lack of welcome, that disappointment. Strengthened by real parental love, given unconditionally, we grow up, NOT doubting ourselves, not second guessing every impulse. CONFIDENCE is a priceless gift. With it, miracles can be wrought.
Meet a stranger who is a bit iffy, a bit “you’re not from around here”, “you’re not one of us”; we would laugh & josh them with the milk of human kindness. See, win, win. Sorry, mum & dad, we got it wrong in the past. Hopefully future generations, those lovely young dads you see at the supermarket or the bank, dandling proudly his #1 son on his knee, kissing him, rearrangling a lock of hair, hopefully that dad is in the know. I hope so.
Maybe with the lousy grammar, the mobile apps & the texting, a lovely new gen is being shaped. I could live with that.