“Introduces”

Nancy French has a warning for parents about a new kids’ movie: “ParaNorman Introduces Children to Homosexuality”.

However, the second scene involves one of the subplots. Norman’s sister has a crush on a kid she tries desperately to impress throughout the movie. After she fails to turn his head, she finally asks him out.

“Sure,” he responds. “You’re gonna love my boyfriend. He’s like a total chick-flick nut.”

My friend saw the film in a “red state” and she reported that “you could hear the gasps in the theatre from parents” at the unexpected line. “I should have known something was up when the theatre manager made a huge disclaimer and offered refunds if we did not like the movie,” she wrote.

As a resident of a reddish state, I almost want to go see this movie just to witness the reactions. It must have been incredible to watch the sudden failure of these parents’ homophobic delusion that they can isolate their children from any knowledge of same-sex relationships. I find it implausible that the film actually “introduces” children to homosexuality itself; that would suggest that all these kids had never once encountered the concept of homosexuality before they saw ParaNorman, which is vastly unlikely.

I have no sympathy for these parents – while I’m sure they’re trying to raise their kids in a way they believe to be right, just as we are, the problem is that these people want our son’s classmates and friends to believe that his moms simply don’t exist. These are the people who would protect their children from being “introduced to homosexuality” by keeping them away from us. Say what you will about our family, but we don’t keep our children ignorant of the fact that homophobes, Republicans and religious people exist. We don’t even try. Why would we? These are concepts that they are, unfortunately, going to encounter in their lives – and likely sooner rather than later, thanks to people like Nancy French who think our truth is something their children can’t handle.

We can’t teach our kids that something is right or wrong if they don’t know what it is. I don’t know how these parents intend to do it – the statement “homosexuality is wrong” is meaningless to someone who you’ve prevented from knowing that homosexuality exists. By swaddling their children in ignorance, they’ve placed themselves in the double bind of expressing their disapproval of something without letting their kids know just what it is they disapprove of. Either they must finally address the topic they’re so reluctant to talk about, or attempt to avoid any mention of the subject at all until a movie like ParaNorman blows the whole thing wide open (and not a moment too soon).

William Bigelow of Breitbart.com also objects:

It’s a time-honored technique of the gay community to hide the fact that a character is gay until the audience has developed a real affinity for him/her, then catch the audience off-guard by divulging that the character is gay. …

If they really were “brave” they’d announce from the start that Mitch was gay and see just how many parents would take their children to see this movie.

Of course, this just mirrors how coming out often proceeds in reality: being LGBT usually isn’t the first thing you learn about someone, even if you know them well. And when this particular facet of who we are comes to light, the homophobe takes umbrage at the revelation that upends their previous assumptions. After all, they consented to love or raise or befriend or laugh at a straight cis person – not some queer. It’s remarkable how much this resembles the classic “pieces of flair” argument that transgender people should always disclose their history to romantic partners so that they can be rejected outright just for being trans. Bigelow takes it further, saying what even homophobes rarely state openly: that members of invisible minorities are obligated to announce their status in advance, so that bigots can simply hate them before getting to know them or developing any attachment or connection to them as individuals. It doesn’t sound quite so reasonable now, does it?