“It’s good to challenge people on race and sexuality and other issues where there’s prejudice,” says Alyson. “If knowing my boys encourages anyone to think a bit more deeply about how we label people, then that’s just great as far as I’m concerned.”
- Alyson Kelly on the subject of her twin sons James (“black”, gay) and Daniel (“white”, straight).
There are a number of things about this that are interesting and complicated, one of which being the fact that Daniel, the “white” twin, was the one consistently beat up at school due to the racism of his fellow students. I’m not sure quite what that says about race issues today, but I’m willing to bet it includes something about the insidious nature of contemporary racism. Aggressive and subtly bigoted middle school boys are perhaps less likely to lash out at someone they can tell at first glance is “black”, maybe because they are enraged by the experience of initially viewing someone as a peer, assigning a certain set of (higher) expectations, and then learning they’ve been “tricked” by treating someone “non-white” as “normal”. This is something I kind of wish I knew more about, because it is fascinating and upsetting.
Something this makes me tangentially think of is a specific attitude that sometimes gets directed at bisexuals (especially men) who are initially assumed to be straight. This is way, way, less serious, and please don’t misinterpret me as complaining, because I am extremely lucky in this regard, but I think it relates to something similar about the way
As a relatively femme bisexual woman who dates men far more often than women, people generally assume I’m straight. That seems reasonable enough, since I stopped shaving my head a year or two ago (while I still did that, everyone assumed I was a lesbian and/or in a punk band), and typically show up to social events with a man in tow. People don’t typically know I sometimes get involved with women until I tell them, they meet one of said women, or they facebook friend me. (I’ve been listed as interested in both men and women since I joined facebook in 2005, but even then people are often surprised when it comes up in conversation. I wonder if they are simply feigning surprise?) When people do figure it out, it’s typically not a big deal at all, especially in the 20-something hipster artist circles that I run in, and I don’t consider it a big deal myself. I am obviously very fortunate; I’ve been open about being bisexual for… probably about eight years now, and can count on one hand the number of times I’ve actually been harassed for it. However, there is this interesting thing that happens sometimes: people who are totally not weird or bigoted towards their gay friends– their obviously, openly, stereotypically gay friends–will be super weirded out and get really uncomfortable and make comments or ask questions that are borderline offensive. There’s something confusing about a person who has no problem or visible discomfort with the friends that they registered as gay from the moment they met them, but then is clearly disturbed by someone they had considered and treated as “normal” revealing themselves as “non-straight”. Hmm.
I’m not sure where I’m going with this, and didn’t intend to write anything here when I posted the link, but hey, there are my two cents for the moment.