One of the reasons I have posted a number of pieces on the Folsom Street Fair (this being the third) is that I believe it provides gay people an opportunity to stand up against some of the extreme behavior in our community and affirm certain basic values. And in affirming those values, we help show how similar our lives — and our hopes — are to those of our straight peers.
Not only that, in criticizing extremes in our community, we take on other extremes, those anti-gay social conservatives who attempt to define all gay people by the most outlandish behavior in our community. An action similar to the idea Albert Camus described as “the ‘no’ which affirms” in his book, The Rebel.
Some have pointed out the particular story I referenced in my first post was two years old. Even Michelle Malkin noted as much in the piece which alerted me to the issue, writing that the twin toddlers dressed in pet collars by their gay male parents was taken at the “2005 fair.” While that picture may be two years old, in a subsequent post, Michelle included a screen capture from the fair’s web-page about this year’s festivities, noting the they “don’t have age restrictions” at the fair.
In denouncing the absence of age restrictions, gay leaders could affirm the value that certain things are not appropriate for children. Affirming a value by saying “no” to something which violates it.
They could also affirm a value by providing examples of those who affirm in it in their everyday lives.
In some ways, the Bush White House has done a better job of showing the similarity between gay parents and straight parents. The White House press office issued nearly identical press releases announcing the births of the Vice President’s three grandsons, all born since he took office, the last one, Samuel David Cheney, being the son of Mary Cheney and her partner Heather Poe, the elder two, the sons of Mary’s sister Liz. (Releases for Mary’s son, here and for Liz’s sons, here and here.)
Note that in each of the three pictures, we see the Vice President and his wife Lynne, with captions identifying the baby’s parents. While some gay bloggers groused that the White House didn’t include a picture of Sam’s lesbian parents, no straight bloggers groused that the White House didn’t include a picture of his cousins’ straight parents when they were born.
The White House treats the birth of a child to the Vice President’s lesbian daughter the same as it treats the birth of a child to the Vice President’s straight daughter.
That’s a pretty good way to promote a positive image of gay parenting.
If gay leaders are truly concerned about improving the public image of the gay community rather than advancing a partisan agenda, they should praise parents like Vice President and Mrs. Cheney who recognize that their lesbian daughter is just as capable of raising a child as their straight offspring.
Yet, it seems to be too much for gay organizations to praise a conservative Vice President. Just as it seems too much for them to criticize a gay organization which allows kids to attend a festival featuring sexually explicit behavior.