"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Thursday, October 17, 2019

When Drag Queens Come To School –Bringing The Castro To Kindergarten

It seemed like a good idea at the time – invite two well known drag queens to read to children from books celebrating LGBTQ pride and coming out just as a dorm on Michigan State University’s campus had recently done.  The Michigan event was hosted in celebration of “National Coming Out Day.”  School administrators in _____ would take a lesson from Michigan and take the fight against gender discrimination to the denominator – K-6,  where sexual stereotypes have their beginnings and where prejudice against the other-sexed is formed, confirmed, and promoted; and where nipping homophobia in the bud is a mission as important as racial civil rights. 

Children are never too young to learn about the sexual spectrum, how it has replaced the discredited notions of male-female singularity, procreative unions, and genetic imperatives.  Unless children learn that X and Y chromosomes have no bearing on sexual identity, that sex can be changed as easily as hair color, that biology is by no means destiny, and that the repressive theories of Freud, Jung, and Adler are nothing more than patriarchal relics, they will never get off square one on the path to sexual fulfillment and true self-actualization.

Image result for images drag queens

School districts in progressive states have already instituted curriculum changes designed to address the issue of sexual inclusivity and tolerance.  Aware that even in a liberal, permissive educational environment, they had to tread lightly when it came to the nuts and bolts of sexual behavior – what goes where and how – especially in the lower grades, but they were proud of their new, revised, and inclusive sex education course for seniors in high school.  For them, restructuring sexual norms meant normalizing what had always been considered aberrant behavior.  Under the new ethos, there is no such thing.  Not only is any point on the gender spectrum acceptable and right, but all sexual practices between men or women, or between any possible configuration of sexual identity in between are normal and unremarkable. The sexual options when all such identities are considered, is staggering, unheard of, and bewildering for anyone of a certain age; and the docents responsible for curriculum change rightly and reasonably demurred on any exhaustive catalog.  It would be enough, they decided, for high school seniors to get a flavor of what ‘alternative’ sexual practices were like, a glimpse of the smorgasbord.

Yet reformers understood that by the time students had reached high school, prejudices would already have been formed.  The overwhelmingly male-female sexual environment with its exclusive focus on traditional sex and sexuality would be an infertile place for the introduction of LGBTQ sexual specifics.  In fact as tolerant as older students might be about non-heterosexual sex, and as attentive as they might be in lectures, discussions, and sensitivity training sessions, their minds were only on one thing – hot, straight sex.

How to introduce ideas any more radical than gay marriage, already more conservative, faithful, and honorable than heterosexual marriages, was the issue facing educators.  In fact gay marriage was now only of passing interest in a sexually hyped environment where the most impossibly strange sexual combinations were already on television sitcoms.  It would be necessary, reformers considered, to take a bolder, more proactive approach in the lower grades.  And thus, the idea of drag queens in primary school was hatched.   If young children could see first hand variations in sexual orientation distinct from that of their mothers and fathers, they would be desensitized.  They would ipso facto be favorable to non-traditional sexual types, considerate of them, and even open to adopting them as their own personal sexual identity one day.

Image result for images gay marriage

So Gloria and Mavis were invited to the _______)School.  In their interviews with school officials who had explicitly asked them about their sexual nature, they replied that they were drag queens, purely and simply – men who played women, identified with them, and who considered themselves women in all but anatomy but were quite happy to have sex with male partners.  However sex was only one expression of their delight in femininity, the female form, and female behavior.  Women were simply much more interesting than men, and this combination of operatic costuming and female flamboyance was more than enough for them.  The sex while not incidental, was far less important than their persona. 

All well and good, but Gloria and Mavis could not hide their very masculine features, no matter how much eyeliner, blush, and lipstick they applied, nor how closely they shaved.  Gloria was strong featured, muscular, coarse in a virile way, and none of her graceful gestures were believable.  While she had made a very good living in San Francisco clubs – think La Cage Aux Folles, she said – and while her acting and dancing were quite feminine and while her masculine features beneath the feathers and make-up was a turn-on for many patrons, she might be inappropriate or even downright scary for young children. 

Image result for images movie la cage aux folles dancers

Besides, the interviewers had discussed among themselves what exactly were they trying to achieve? If the children saw that the man who through the sequins and gold earrings looked a lot like the plumber or the garage mechanic, then what would the children have learned? That this was a man who liked to play dress up which was OK even though you were an adult?  That this wasn’t really a man but a woman? Or that this really was a woman? Or neither?

If Gloria was not believable as a woman, Mavis was scary. Even the most aware child, prepared at home by expansively tolerant parents; and even the most woke adult would find her unsettling. Perhaps because she wore satin and frills, lots of embroidery and lace, and was in manner and attitude a woman, but could never disguise her maleness, she was disconcerting.   She was to anyone but the most persuaded, a longshoreman in women’s finery.  Her head was large and imposing, her shoulders broad, her legs strong and well-defined, and her voice was deep and harsh.  Nothing belonged together and the dissonance was scary.

It was getting late in the semester, however, not far from Thanksgiving; and the administrators would have no time to expand their search to find more feminine men; men more appropriate to the task, which if no better defined than when Gloria and Mavis walked into the principal’s office, would have to do.  A little operatic excess couldn’t do any harm.  They decided to use the theme ‘Be what you want to be’ for the event, and stay away from the thorny, unresolved sexual issues before them.  The drag queens would read from a children’s book called ‘Gilbert, the Hero’, a story about a little boy who liked to play with dolls, who was teased and laughed at on the playground, but who became a beautiful actress on the Broadway stage.  No need to go into the more ticklish issues of men and women acting in unfamiliar ways and the reasons why, just a fairly tale with a special twist.

The school administrators might have been successful in their performance had they been more thoughtful about age groups.  Had they aimed a bit lower, the youngest children would have accepted the fairy tale without question.  Had they aimed higher, they would have hit the woke, liberally-brought-up pre-adolescents of the higher grades.  As it turned out, they hit the middle – children who were still learning about what’s what, not shy about speaking their mind, and hard to be fooled.
“What exactly are you?”, Amanda Peters asked Gloria after she had finished reading the book about Gilbert.  “A man or a woman”, and surprisingly for a little girl of only 10, “Or both?”.

Gloria was nonplussed and not a little embarrassed by the question.  She was used to the usual homophobic remarks from passersby and closet queens, but not from children.  This was supposed to be an easy ride in a non-confrontational gathering, children whose eyes and ears were supposed to be open, and who were non-judgmental and fair.

Image result for images grade school children listening to a story

Gloria, flummoxed, and unsettled, hemmed and hawed, exaggerated her gestures, hoping through a bit of theatrics she might win over the crowd.

“And why are you wearing a dress?”, asked Billy Parsons.

It was as funny as a fart, and no one could stop giggling. Gloria had lost her audience, her chance, and her opportunity.  “Now, children”, said Mr. Phillips, the principal. “Miss Gloria came all the way from the capital to talk to us”; but the damage had been done, and now the children could only see the ridiculousness of the entire affair – a silly man looking like Amos the bus driver dressed up like Miss Hayes, the tarty art teacher who made eyes at Mr. Loucks.

The administrators had ignored a cardinal rule. You can pull the wool over adults’ eyes and get them to believe any cockamamie idea, but not children.  Their bullshit quotient is too high.

So the school went back to a more temperate, gentle introduction of sexuality; and stuck to ‘Jennifer Has Two Mommies’ and nostrums about tolerance and getting along.  Despite the pressure put upon them by the more progressive members of the school board, they demurred.  Unless the authorities figured out exactly what they wanted to say and why – no teacher was going to bring the Castro to kindergarten.

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