Thursday, 3 February 2022

Barbie and Ken

As mentioned previously, growing up I had multiple generational and social stereotypes being pushed upon me. 

Mum and I were similar so she nurtured the person I was over the person they, especially Dad, expected me to be. 

For a long time I would say they were part of the “uneducated generation” but I won’t excuse it. They BOTH negatively impacted my understanding of LGBTQ+ communities. 

Dad encompassed the bigoted world and, unlike Mum who varied, I never witnessed ANYTHING outside of that opinion. 

Anything other than heterosexual was "wrong".  

The abusive vocabulary was constant. The openly gay man on our road was given many negative names such as "poof", "queer" and "unclean" when we drove past their house whilst Dad also promoted objectifying women and would berate me if I didn't join in.

The moment I showed independent passion in activities away from his own they were criticised. For example, I wasn’t sporty. I detested sport which was, for him, an instant reflection of my sexuality.

Even when I did something “sporty", like becoming a skater, it just added fuel to the fire. Just as my personal activities and interests deemed me "gay"

I personally identify as Pansexual and there's many points that I question on what they knew I was despite hiding it my entire life.

On one occasion, when I brought the boys Mum home as my "girlfriend" Mum was the one to comment that she was surprised because she always assumed I was gay; so there was possible doubt it their mind.

As a kid I had all female friends and avoided male relationships; partially because of historic abuse and partly because I knew I was attracted to some.

As an adult and parent with LGBTQ+ Children it is something that stands out.

Midge, almost 14, identifies as Gay and mostly seems pretty solid in her identity.

Will, almost 13, has zero interest which is something quite common with Autistic Children especially in addition with some of his other complicated conditions.

James, 11 this year, identifies as either Gender Fluid/Non-Binary and has done throughout his childhood.

Arty, almost 11, doesn't know but he does repeat, from his dad, a lot of boy gender stereotypes and, as far as I know, identifies as straight.

So, within our house we definitely have many colours of the rainbow.

I've always been open and allowed my children room to be who they are and played towards what they wanted rather than social conforming towards their potential gender.

It's allowed Midge to confidently confide and come out, as it has for James. In doing so they've openly built likes and interests to go with it. Midge will dress within her own identity, as does James. They even include their own LGBTQ+ music tastes.

One song that's being played a lot is Barbie and Ken. The lyrics highlight a change not only in my kids lives but for me in childhood reflection.

"They knew that they were different But they pushed it down 'Cause nobody would even listen"

"But what if it's not Ken but Barbie. Why should she have to say sorry?"

"We can love who we want to. Don't say she's not supposed to"

"Hidin' how she feels. Sayin' things like "Love ain't real" All just to conceal that she's not society's ideal. Hearin' what they say about those who feel the same way. She's really not okay and tells herself it's just a phase"

These lyrics really bring home my childhood and the thoughts and feelings I had. It's a great song and one that I'm pleased is an anthem for my children.

Listening to it recently resulted in myself having a conversation with the kids regarding it.

It wasn't easy but I explained my childhood. I explained what Grandad and, to some extent, Nanny was like but I wanted to let them know the truth.

I'm not a perfect parent, I get a lot wrong and do so regularly.

I'm sure there's things that my children will look back on and have similar feelings about me but one thing I'm pleased with is that I broke the sexuality cycle that I was raised in. I just hope my children can break the other cycles I haven't.

Loving someone else starts with loving yourself and who you are. If I've managed to allow that for my own children then I'm happy.

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