When We Oversexualize Queer Folk
Last night, I read a story that said My Little Pony just introduced a lesbian couple onto the show. For plenty of people this marks an exciting trend in children’s programming as it comes on the heels of the recent Arthur episode which featured a gay wedding.
But for others, this is a very big problem because they claim it’s introducing kids to sex.
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I grew up in a pretty strict Christian household, where my mother and teachers oversexualized anyone queer. In their minds, homosexuals were obsessed with sex and unsuitable for working with children.
It wasn’t until I became a mother myself that I fully understood how ridiculous their line of thought was:
If an adult man is attracted to adult men, homophobic people believe they are a danger to... young boys.
Likewise, if an adult woman dates adult women, people like my mom fear for the safety of little girls.
Homophobic people believe that queer folk can’t control themselves enough to avoid statutory rape, despite their own ranks often being rife heterosexuals who don’t keep it in their pants around students and otherwise impressionable youth. Ahem.
It’s a sick double-standard and the bias starts out when kids are young. These people have no problem with children’s programming that depicts heterosexual marriage and families. My Little Pony has already shown plenty of romance among straight ponies.
Twilight Sparkle’s brother married Princess Cadence and the hetero pony couple promptly had a child named Flurryheart. Twilight herself has had a couple of crushes, especially when she’s depicted as a humanoid on Equestria Girls.
But none of that was problematic to straight people… because it’s straight. And straight romances aren’t viewed as overtly sexual when introduced to kids.
It’s a completely different story, however, when we talk about queer couples on TV.
The sexual fixation homophobic people have carries over to the way they see queer folk. Instead of seeing living, breathing, actual humans, they only see sex addicts and predators.
That’s why anytime we talk about transgender bathroom rights, somebody gets into a huff and starts spouting out nonsense about men who are going to dress up like women and hide in the bathrooms so they can rape our girls.
That’s not happening, but good luck telling that to anyone who believes that family values can’t be queer.
Nobody had a problem with depictions of love and marriage on either show until they chose to be slightly more inclusive. Suddenly, parents were wringing their hands over Hollywood having some agenda. Suddenly, it was all about sex.
And let's be honest. The inclusion of a lesbian couple has nothing to do with sex. It wasn't even obvious in the introductory episode that the two ponies were a couple.
It was simply a hint that got confirmed on Twitter, and now parents are losing their shit.
Coming from such a repressed background myself, I used to worry about how to talk to my future children about sex and homosexuality or transgender issues. It wasn’t until I realized that we already talk to kids about sex and heterosexual relationships, that I saw my fears were unfounded.
Letting kids know that there are LGBTQIA people, couples, and families in the world is no more sexual than any other story or fairy tale depicting a straight wedding or straight couple.
We do so much damage when we oversexualize queer people. It’s dehumanizing and insulting. And it’s naive. The people who clutch their pearls over any inclusion of anybody who isn’t heterosexual in the media frequently turn a blind eye to the actual sexual abuse committed by straight folk.
I'd still rather have my daughter hang out with lesbians instead of a priest.
What if it’s just a ploy for ratings?
Sure, it’s Pride Month and that means more companies and businesses are jumping on the bandwagon to wave a rainbow flag. PBS did it with Arthur. Discovery Family is doing it with My Little Pony.
I know that it can seem a little tone deaf. Like a cash grab.
On the flip side, the fact that more companies see it as a smart move to embrace Pride matters. That means a tide is turning and that’s a good thing.
Furthermore, it’s an encouragement to young people who would otherwise see even less of themselves in the real world. Or, those who might only get to see oversexualized and negative images of queerness.
When we depict homosexual couples and weddings as something good and fit for children? We wind up treating them more like the people they are and less like sex-crazed dangers to society which too many folks fear.
We still have a long way to go in terms of queer rights, but I’m happy to raise my daughter in an era where queer love is finally getting some airtime in a positive way.