Ross: How the suburbs guard ‘birds-and-the-bees’ chatter
As I remember – the year was 1964. June. I saw a copy of LIFE magazine on the living room coffee table. Dad subscribed to all the picture magazines.
On that day, LIFE featured a two-page spread captioned “Homosexuality in America.” I was 12 … in the sixth grade … so I picked it up and started reading.
As I recall, within seconds … Mom was there. And she was holding a little book. And she was telling me quietly, but firmly, before you read that, I want you to read this.
You see, I hadn’t had the birds-and-bees talk yet. And what my mom handed me was, as I think about it – probably the same book her parents must have given her at a similar moment.
Until then, I thought there was some sort of magic in the wedding ceremony, and that just by standing in church and putting the ring on the woman’s finger – that’s how pregnancy happened. My theory explained beautifully why wedding rings were so important and had to be made of gold.
And if you’re wondering how a 12-year-old could be that naïve … imagine growing up in the suburbs, with no internet, maybe five TV channels showing sitcoms where married couples slept in separate beds, and where the music on the radio could only hint at the existence of S-E-X.
Just so you know – Mom wasn’t only protecting me from homosexuality – I remember we were at the drive-in one night when a preview came on for Barbarella starring Jane Fonda – and before you could say “cleavage,” mom’s hand slammed my eyelids shut.
She was protecting me against HETEROSEXUALITY too.
So, when I saw the story about parents in the Marysville School District wanting control over whether their kids joined a safe space club – I understood.
You want the first say in how your child understands sex.
And as the parent, you absolutely have that right. Just be prepared – because some stuff is baked in.
In my case, despite Dad’s attempts to teach me baseball, I preferred the glee club and musical theater. And despite Mom’s attempt to protect me from Jane Fonda’s cleavage, I embraced heterosexuality.
Not only that – it turns out my favorite Netflix series is Grace and Frankie – which stars … Jane Fonda and is about two supposedly heterosexual men who finally embrace their gayness and marry each other!
What complicated creatures we former children are.
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