Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Adventures in Baby-Sitting. (Last Word)

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Adventures in Baby-Sitting. (Last Word)

Article excerpt

My little niece and nephew, I'm proud to say, have become one of the sustaining joys of my life. I've watched them from infancy through toddling to now full-fledged childhood. The oldest was born the year after I became HIV-positive, and just watching him grow and laugh and explore the world helped turn my own psychology around from thinking about death to grasping life more fully.

The more I've spent time with these kids and the more my sister insisted on bringing their gay uncle into their lives, the more I realized how great is the calumny that drives a wedge between homosexuals and children. It's the oldest blood-libel against us--that we're not to be trusted with kids, that we're all pedophiles under the skin. Of course the opposite is the case. Many gay people have children and always have--whether in same-sex or opposite-sex marriages. Gay people have always been involved in what might be thought of as surrogate parenting--in education, the arts, and the churches. There's even a theory from evolutionary psychologists that our species may have selected for a small homosexual population precisely because a group of people without offspring could help rear the children of others.

I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but I think we make too little of this point. Whether we like it or not, the association of homosexuality with a threat to children is still an alarmingly common idea. And this child-abuse libel--a trope of bigotry since it was originally applied to Jews in the Middle Ages--lies behind a great deal of the discrimination that gay people still have to endure.

Take the Boy Scouts. At one point a simple declaration that homosexuals were immoral would have kept the ban on openly gay scouts and scoutmasters in place. But now that great gay scouts and scoutmasters have been revealed, current Scout leaders have had to resort to the pedophile angle. They say barring open gays is necessary to protect kids in their charge. Never mind that closet cases stay put. Never mind that more than one adult is required to supervise kids. The "gays are child abusers" stigma fuels parental angst, which acts like a veto over reform. …

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