Mom! You are so prejudiced against aliens!

10 Feb

ACO on the next big struggle for equality (we’ll never see it coming), the generation gap, and what to do when our children bring home dates with two heads and green skin.

Grandparents are a strange phenomenon.

They grew up in a different context, in circumstances that are relevant and often fascinating but that set them markedly apart from their descendants. My granddad got remarried this year, and he and his new wife decided to honeymoon in New York. They graciously invited me along to the Broadway production Memphis, a story about one of the first white DJs to play black music in the 1950s.

During the emotionally and racially charged moments of the show, both my granddad and his new wife wept silent tears. They lived through segregation and would have been my age at the onset of the Civil Rights Movement. Instead of being born, like me, into a world that rejects overt racism, they have seen the world change around them. As discourse and protest arose, people realized that they had the ability to formulate their own opinions about the matter. Although the battle is not over, education and awareness have created the opportunity for change.

While talking with them, I also wondered about my own parents. LGBT issues have only recently been raised in their consciousness; in this sense, my parents and I grew up in very different worlds. (Put differently, nearly everyone I know is less homophobic than their parents.) But thanks to social activism and rapidly expanding knowledge about LGBT rights, this may be the issue about which my parents’ views undergo radical change during their lifetimes.

My thoughts floated even further to the future and the next generation. In fifteen years, what will my child and I be debating across the kitchen table?

“Mom,” my child protests, “just because he’s from Mars doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with him.”

“When I was your age, no one would ever consider dating an alien,” I snap back.

“You don’t like him just because he’s green and has four eyes, Mom,” says my son.

“No, you have to understand that I grew up in a completely different world, and this is all very new to me.”

Really, though. Our parents are caught teetering on the edge as the world reckons with the LGBT dialogue. I’m not trying to say that by the time I am ready to have kids LGBT rights will have obtained the respect deserved. Equality is a constant battle. But what will I grapple with understanding about my children? Am I going to struggle to comprehend the next generation’s admiration of and love for aliens?

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