Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Toys Childhood and the Fear of Pink

This is a guest post from Sparky, of Spark in Darkness.  Many of you are  familiar with him from Livejournal, as well as from his insightful and often hilarious commentary here. Each Tuesday, Womanist Musings will be featuring a post from Sparky. 
I am thinking back to my childhood and the toys I played with and the clothes I wore.

See, there is a rumbling drama-llama about boys with pink toe-nails or dressing up as girls or not playing with suitably manly toys. No, really. People are panicking because there's a small child wearing pink nail polish and other small children wearing the wrong societally designated colour for their gender. And that just follows endless similar drama llamas about kids wearing the "wrong gendered" clothing, playing with the "wrong" toys etc etc. From The View to Dr. Phil, to the usual hate groups - the terrible effect of children not being put into strict colour-coded gender uniforms is a Big Deal apparently.

Yeah, my eyes are rolling so much they're getting friction burns. Even aside from the centuries in time where men regularly wore make up (how did heterosexuality survive!?) the idea that being gay is caused by toe-nail polish or playing with those nauseatingly saccharine ponies would be laughable if the haters didn't take it so seriously.I think back to when I was a small boy. I wore no pink. In fact I didn't wear a whole lot of blue - I wore a lot of black. Mainly because my grandmother had an unhealthy love of these woolly white cardigans and I hated them so very much. I used to invent creative ways to rip/stain/destroy the horrible things that wouldn't get me into trouble. I grew to loathe the colour and wore black whenever I could. To this day the vast majority of my clothes are black or heavy, dark shades or deep, dark jewel tones (and white looks bad on me. Nana, you had many sterling qualities, but all the taste and style of a concussed dodo).

See, never mind worrying about kids wearing blue or pink - worry about let unfettered grandmas attacking them with woolly cardigans! That'll warp 'em for life!

As for toys, I had no dolls, no pink things (nor did I have cooking toys, which was sad because I kind of wanted one, but my parents had issues with boys and cooking toys) - no, I had transformers. Yes, I was obsessed with those robots that turned into cars and planes and dinosaurs (yes I know the Dinobots made no sense. They were still cool) and my pride and joy was having all the Stuntacons so they could merge and become Menasor (and yes I do still remember all their names).

And I loved the X-men, I loved that programme with an insane passion that was probably rather worrisome... And this incredibly bad and cheesey old 80s cartoon called "Knights of the Magical Light" which, in retrospect makes me think there probably WAS something wrong with my upbringing but largely due to ridiculously inflated cheese-tolerance levels.  

And I? I am gay. Yes, Optimus Prime did not save me. Wolverine could not induce straightness. In fact, I had a total crush on Nightcrawler AND Gambit (thereby ensuring my eternal geekdom) matched only by my crush for my physics teacher (and I endured MATHS for that man. MATHS, with numbers and calculators and things *shudder*). Not even the Metroplex toy pushed away the dreaded gay (I loved that toy! He turned into a base, an entire base, how cool was that?)
And you know what's also annoying me above and beyond the sheer ridiculousness of it all? It's the same thing that annoys me every time someone comes up with a new raison du jour about what makes people gay - soy, the colour pink, playing with dolls, not playing with dolls, too close to mother/father, cosmic gay rays, blah blah...

Because under all this is one very strong message - being gay is wrong.

Because why would we CARE if pink toenails or playing with dolls or whatever made a child gay or not unless the very idea of our children being gay wasn't something that caused us to loose our every-loving shit. Societally, we still have an extreme terror of teh ebil gay. It's still a major insult to be thrown at straight people to express hatred, derision and contempt - because how can you let someone know how much you hate them, how much contempt you have for them than to call them gay? It's still used to say when things are broken or failing or otherwise useless and bad. It's still regarded as an ultimate slander and insult to the core to suggest someone is gay, it's an accusation to defend against, like some kind of crime or accusation of evil.

Every time we as a society have another wave of panic because "ZOMG IT MAKES YOU GAY" then we are showing again how much we hate and fear gay people. How much being gay is a terrible, horrible, contemptible fate to be avoided at all costs.

And I think that's one point that has largely been missed in the condemning of this whole load of ridiculousness (and it is ridiculous and it is truly deserving of mockery). 

These things do not make you gay - and if they did, why would that be such a bad thing?