Saturday, February 12, 2011
Unmaking The Monster
Personally, I don't think it takes mad science or evil curses under full moons. All it takes to make a monster is one lie told often enough. You see, it doesn't matter if the man really is a monster...only if everyone else believes he is. Tell everyone he is the shadow in every dark room....a menace to men women and children....rampaging through the streets seeking his next victim. You don't need proof....You need only tap into the fear that already lives in there hearts. It won't be long before our ordinary man will sees to be ordinary and will transform into a fiend right before our very eyes. Keep Repeating the lie enough and even the monster himself may come to fear and hate himself.
Most times I forget the way the world looks at my life. I have never accepted the idea that being who I am is a thing to be feared or hated. I thought I had healed that vision of myself a long time ago. Yet, all it took was one comment from the mom of a foster child to punch me in the gut and remind me, that while I may not see an evil face in the mirror anymore...many others are still see us that way.
As some of our readers know, my husband and I have decided to become emergency foster parents. Having done fostering before with our nieces and nephews and we felt like we had a good home to offer to a child in need of a safe place to be for a while. We are no strangers to the fost/adopt system have never run into problems because we were a same-sex couple....Until now. On taking a child to a visit with mom, she got her first idea that we were a gay couple and reacted badly. She began asking her son about us and making very negative comments. On following visits she asked her child about us and asked if we had "touched him."...Due to privacy issues I have to keep names and specific details anonymous.
Now, it was this last comment that really took the wind out of me because it was immediately clear where mom would have come up with this being that she doesn't know us from Adam. We had just been smacked in the face with the gay=pedophile idea. I had heard it from my parents for years. From church pastors and religious people and now out of the mouth of a woman who knows absolutely nothing about me. Here we were, monsters again. How widespread this idea is that it should pop up in our lives in such random occurrences. After all, would that thought have ever occurred to her had we been an opposite sex couple? In a word....no.
It gave me pause to consider what this would mean for my family if mom planted some ideas in her child's mind and coerced him into making accusations. Allegations have to be investigated and what would that do to my children? What if other parent's reacted the way this one did? They are often angry at the child welfare system...and we are a part of that system. Being a gay couple makes us an easy target for this kind of crap and that just pisses me off. We always knew that this could be a possibility and is one of the major reasons why we let our social worker know that we can not take children with a history of sexual abuse. One accusation made, investigated by an unaccepting social worker puts us at unfair risk. Some people have their biases against gay men already and it was a risk to our family that we were not willing to take.
But all of this seems only a symptom of a much bigger problem....
All the political attack ads that try to abstract the same idea came back to me. "Save the children! Evil gays want to teach them to be gay!" We went through it with NOM's King and King ad that did so much to way parents that gays had some sort of evil agenda to convert their children...never mind that it was all a lie. The damage had been done. No one cared anymore that gay Californians had families of their own or raised children. they had been grabbed their torches and pitchforks and been frightened into believing that the monster was at their doorstep. And with whole generations of people passing this on from parent to child, it doesn't take a great deal to invoke the specter of the evil gay predator.
When I came out to myself, I had this interior monologue in my head that spoke in the voice of my parents..."gays are nasty perverted men who can never be happy". I had to look in the mirror and ask myself if that was me. I knew down in my heart that it wasn't but I believed that coming out and living as a gay man would have some kind of corrosive effect on my soul.At first it felt like stepping away from everything I knew to be good because of the yearning that was calling and would never go away. It took some time for this monster to stop believing that he was one. I met other monsters and quickly discovered that they weren't in fact, monsters at all. So, if they weren't...what was I? One day the horns disappeared, then the fangs fell off,
and then the evil snarl became replaced with what I had known to be myself all along, but it didn't happen in one night but the lie eventually came undone.
But undoing the lie in yourself still leaves a whole world that still truly believes in it. There are people who's job and livelihood depends on making sure that no one comes to see you as a human being. The hard task of fighting for same-sex marriage, workplace protections, or hell...even simple everyday acceptance from the person sitting next to you on the bus isn't so much a matter of collecting votes or spending more money than the other guy. The task is in unmaking the monster. That means helping the people who only now see us as a shadow under the bed...or a moral concept, see us as living breathing people just like them. It isn't an easy task and unfortunately the hard work falls on us. Monsters hide in shadows and leap out at you from the darkness. We have to stand in the full light of day and show who we really are. Sometimes that will mean facing fear and hatred from the people who can't see anything but the monster. Sometimes it will hurt, and it will remind you of the days when you believed you were a monster. That's because it is so much harder to unmake a monster than it is to make one.
Keep living in the light.
Until next time dear readers.....