I light of the previous post about the video of the boy doing a Beyonce routine, and the online response to the video, it seems relevant to point out what can happen when gay kids find acceptance at home, and their gifts are celebrated. An email this morning pointed me to this Metro Weekly interview with actor Doug Spearman of Noah’s Arc, who returns to D.C. (he’s a native, I guess) to accept an award from PFLAG.
What Spearman has to say about his childhood and his parents’ acceptance is worth checking out.
SPEARMAN: I’ve always been a supporter. I’ve always thought it was an amazing organization.
With my parents, it wasn’t a big surprise. My dad knew [I was gay] by the time I was 4. He caught me wrapped up in the curtains, twirling around. My parents gave me a lot of hope and they gave me a lot of strength. And the two things they never screwed up with me were sex and religion. I was never told I was going to hell because of who I was, and I was encouraged to be me, no matter what. My mom not only bought me Barbies, she made clothes for them. My parents weren’t crazy about any of the girls I dated, but every guy I brought home they loved and took in and really opened their hearts. I was amazed at my father, in particular, because he was a ”man’s man.” He was the black version of John Wayne. And for him to put up with Mark or Philippe or any of those guys I dragged home, was amazing.
MW: Does this progressive quality run throughout your family?
SPEARMAN: I think my parents were probably more progressive, more open than most of the members of my family.
Going through puberty, I just buried myself in books. One of the paperbacks I bought at the time was The Front Runner by Patricia Nell Warren. My grandmother saw me reading it. She picked it up, flipped over the back cover and read it. She was incensed. She called my mother. I could hear my mother on the phone, and she was like, ”Let him read it!” Because my mother normalized things like that, I did a book report on it for English class in the eighth grade. I got it back and it said, ”You were very brave.” I got an A-minus.
I don’t know many parents, especially African American parents, who would buy Barbie dolls for their (obviously gay) sons, let alone make clothes for the dolls. I played with my sister’s Barbies. I don’t know if my parents particularly noticed, but it wasn’t long before I got a G.I. Joe, a Ken doll, and a Six Million Dollar Man. They all got taken back to my room and immediately stripped. Once I got over my disappointment, I spent hours of time playing with them in my room. (What they got up to is another post for another time.)
But the point is, Attention Parents: If your gay or lesbian child gets your love, acceptance, and support, they might grow to be healthy, happy, and successful. That is, in addition to being gay.