I feel like every man who has ever tried to convince me to take some rando shouting “Hey girl, nice ass” at me as a compliment sees it this way: You’re sitting outside some Italian café in a Betty Draper dress sipping a prosecco when all of a sudden your dainty neck scarf flies off in the light breeze. Joseph Gordon Levitt, wearing a linen suit with a pocket square and no socks with his penny loafers, steps off his Vespa and hands it to you while saying something witty about how it’s almost as beautiful as you are. You then both ride off into the sunset, laughing as Dean Martin plays in the background and the director yells cut on the espresso commercial that is your life.
In reality, it’s you getting yelled at by a bunch of sweaty men standing outside a bar at eight in the morning, telling you about how fuckable you look in your sweatpants when you’re just trying to get a bottle of milk in peace like a goddamn human being. And it is the opposite of a compliment.
With transgender children as young as kindergarten and first grade fighting for their basic rights in addition to seeking understanding and acceptance from their peers, LGBT role models for young children are desperately lacking in pop culture. And with people still of the mindset that being gay is somehow contagious, I don’t see children’s programming changing it up any time soon, which is a sad state of affairs. Think how enlightened our children could be if they grew up feeling accepting and tolerant of all the ways people love each other in the world with confirmation of that on their favorite programs. Mulan likes girls? Okay, cool. Snow White digs dudes? Fantastic.
My daughter is four years old and I find myself trying to outline love for her when she asks. “Do daddies marry mommies?” she wanted to know last week. I struggled to answer because I didn’t want to exclude any type of marriage. “Yup. Daddies marry mommies and sometimes daddies marry daddies and mommies marry mommies. It just depends on who you love,” was what I finally came up with.
Now, you might have chosen to just answer that yes, daddies marry mommies, and that’s great. As for me, I want my daughter to know the full answer to her questions. Growing up with a narrow description of what constitutes love because her parents are in a heterosexual relationship isn’t helping her develop into a compassionate, loving, caring woman. She needs to grow up with an equal knowledge of gay relationships and love, and that’s where LGBT characters on children’s programming come in.