My oldest son is turning into quite the hoofer. He’s no Gene Kelly, yet, but at only nine years old, I wouldn’t expect him to be. If he keeps at it, however — and he certainly seems to have the motivation to do so — by the time he graduates from high school he very well could be up there with the likes of Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, The Nicholas Brothers, Sandman Sims, and so on. He’s always tapping his toes and practicing his dances.
He has a friend whose father, when I suggested the friend might like to take dance with Jared, was absolutely opposed to the idea and made a comment that while I might want to turn my son into Tommy Tune, he didn’t want to do that to his son. Consequently, his son is into sports and Star Wars and such instead. (The irony of it all, of course, is that Jared is far more “manly” and “macho” than is his son.)
I didn’t think much about it at the time; I know he’s terrified of the idea of a gay son so his reaction didn’t surprise me. Recently, however, that conversation returned to my thoughts and I came to the conclusion that his views necessitated some implications I didn’t particularly like.
Let me note that the idea that my son might turn out to be gay is not the problem. There are challenges, certainly, thanks in large part to the bigotry and prejudice of the religious right, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being gay, any more than there is with being left-handed, as my other two kids are. So if it turns out that he’s gay, that’s fine. Luckily, he already knows that that’s okay.
No, my problem with this is more basic than that. To think that taking dance lessons (or playing with dolls or anything else “girly”) might influence one’s sexuality means that one thinks sexual orientation is and can be influenced by one’s environment. That whether or not you’re gay is determined by your hobbies and friends. This is an incredibly dangerous idea because it opens the door to the possibility that just being around gay men can turn a boy gay — an idea that has been used as justification for denying LGBT parents custody or even the right to foster and adopt kids.
Naturally, anyone with half a brain knows that this isn’t true — if it were, there would be no gay children born to straight parents. Since, straight parents DO have gay children, (and, for that matter, vice versa,) this premise is clearly false.
Nonetheless, the anti-LGBT crowd loves this idea as it lets them say that gay and lesbian parents should not be allowed marry, let alone have kids. That is callous, noxious, and just plain wrong.
So the next time someone says they don’t want their son doing something “girly” or that their daughter shouldn’t be out climbing trees and playing ball, call them on it. If a parent says they don’t want their daughter playing with cars and trucks or their son playing with dolls, tell them that the only result will be that their daughter will be more self-confident and independent and their son will be that much better a father.
And to dispel the myth that dancing is for girls only, here are a few videos that will make most men feel inadequate and prove that dancing is, most definitely, for boys.
Fred Astaire reportedly called this “the greatest dance number ever filmed.”
Construction workers from down under have fun with their feet.
A fantastic dancer who died far too young.
If that’s not enough, there are plenty more on YouTube. Check out the classic “Moses Supposes” routine from Singin’ In The Rain, starring Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor — two of the best goofing around and making it look easy. After the kids go to bed, you can watch the incredible Christopher Walken in Pennies From Heaven (sans cowbell). And, no discussion of dance would be complete without the man himself, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson.
This post is part of Blogging for LGBT Families Day.