A commentator on Facebook asks: “‘Gay toddler’. Does anyone else have a problem with the media handling of that?”
The back ground: A California 8-year old, who was tortured to death by the adults in his life after the boy had played with dolls, being referring to in a headline as a ‘gay’ child.*
Though the articles themselves that i have read are only mildly sensationalist and avoid referring to a ‘gay’ child other than in their title, the public reaction is that of a lynch mob calling for justice for this ‘gay’ child. For those of us that see being gay as a way of referring to people who are characterized by sex with their own gender, the word gay, when referring to a person who is not sexually mature is bewildering. So how can it be that of late there seem to be not only gay adults but also “gay” children? Here a few thoughts …
I see two things happening here …
1. The creation of the category “gay child” is a further move toward making a behavior the defining factor of an individuals personal identity, and in turn would seem like a further step in establishing of the concept of a “gay” minority who is erotically drawn to their own sex distinct from a non-“gay” majority that is not. This locates homosexuality outside of heterosexuality, hereby underscoring the exceptional status of same sex eroticism outside of the norm. By adding the category of gay children to the already existing category, “gay adults” we reinforce the idea, that a type of person exists who can be categorized by the capacity to be erotically drawn to the same sex. As it a common truism that men who have sex with men are effeminate, boys perceived as effeminate are therefore “gay children” destined to grow into gay adults.Though there are studies that link effeminacy in males to homosexual behavior, it would seem that there is still a long way to go before we arrive at a rational, unprejudiced understanding of human sexuality, and its social and psychological implications. I doubt very much that the modern, Western concept of “the homosexual” as a type of person will stand the test of time. The behavior would seem to be too manifold and ubiquitous so as to be a reliable characterization of an individual much less of a distinct minority group with shared attributes of any sort what so ever. And though it is perhaps silly to speak of a heterosexual child, the option would not seem to be to postulate an additional category of a homosexual child, a “child” being to my mind a person who has not reached sexual maturity, hence is not sexual in the way that adults are at all.
2. It is not uncommon that the fate of children, whether real as in this case or imagined, are employed to sway public opinion. In an attempt to make them endorse military campaigns, pacifists are often confronted with the threat by some enemy to the lives of children. I can also recall as a young gay activist many decades ago, that if one endorsed the decriminalization of homosexuality, one was often accused of wanting to fling the door open for the sexual molestation of children.
As the LGBTI movement(s) in North America of the late 20th Century arose out of, and/or parallel to the civil rights movement in the US, in which pacifism and opposition to the death penalty were wide-spread, the present day LGBTI movement is to this day a bastion of opponents of violence and the death penalty. It would seem to me from the reactions i have read to the fate of young Gabriel that the presumed emotional identification of LGBTI people with the figure of Gabriel, the “gay toddler” is serving to motivate members of the LGBTI population of the US to endorse a yet another traditionally rightist theme, the call for law-and-order politics, and draconian crime sentences.If LGBTI public opinion were to be swayed on this matter it would simply be another step in swearing in the increasingly influential demographic segment of gay white men on a further rightist topic follow in the footsteps of acceptance of gays in and acceptance on the part of gays for the US Military, or the privatization of social responsibility, and strengthening of (quasi-)traditional sexual mores in the institution of “gay marriage”.
* Becker, John M.: Couple Who Tortured ‘Gay’ Child to Death Get Plea Deal. On: Bilerico.com. Published: 29 Oct 2014. URL: http://www.bilerico.com/2014/10/couple_who_tortured_gay_toddler_to_death_get_plea.php Last viewed: 02 Nov 2014.