A guy knocked on the door last evening, a boy about Leo’s age with him who I vaguely recognised as from Leo’s school grade. As I answered the door, and Leo saw who was there, I caught sight of him fleeing through the back door. Shit! Now what’s he done?
Karen (Leo’s lesbian mum) and Clare (her partner, and Jaymee’s mum, Dave’s her dad) are away on a long trucking trip (Karen’s “day job”) and so the children are with us for a few days. Dave and Jaymee were out shopping as it happens, when the guy called.
Turns out, this boy was being offensive in the school yard to Jaymee, calling her a lesbian and stuff. She’s absolutely not – always on about boys, and into pink fluffy stuff and that. Now Leo and Jaymee are very close – they work together with us as acrobats, for a start – and Leo, along with his mate Chris, heard what was happening and rushed over. Leo is very protective of his “sister”, and punched this other boy in the face. The boy, aware of Leo and Chris’s muscles through their addiction to well-supervised weight training, then beat a retreat. However, he complained to his father…
Leo already has trouble with another father. That’s the father of one of his best friends, a guy who resolutely disapproves of Leo’s heritage and banned him from their property – not that this inhibited the two boys, who simply meet somewhere else. So my heart kind of sank…
But no! This time it is different. The latest father was suspicious of the story that his son had been ‘attacked’ in the school yard, got the truth out of him, read him a lecture about tolerance (yes, even in Tennessee!) and demanded the boy find Jaymee and his parents, and apologise to all of them. As the girls’ house was empty, somehow a neighbour told them where to track down Dave and I.
Well, Dave and Jaymee were out, but Leo was not, although ‘on the run’ in the yard. After much yelling from me, he shuffled uncomfortably into the house. Shirtless as usual, and barefoot. He thought he was probably in for a beating from the guy, if not from me. Instead, this amazing man demanded that his son apologise to Leo. Now I thought that was going a bit far – Leo punched the boy, after all – but the father seemed to have the view that his son deserved what he got. He made his son – Dale – shake hands with Leo. So I insisted that Leo apologise to Dale for hitting him, which of course he shouldn’t have done. Another handshake, followed then by an uncomfortable silence.
I offered the guy a drink on the porch, and suggested that Leo show Dale our training cabin at the top of the yard. They disappeared, awkwardly. After the second beer, they still hadn’t reappeared, but Dave and Jaymee had returned, and joined us on the porch. The guy warmly shook Dave’s hand and was very sweet to Jaymee. More beer, and then, finally, the two boys showed up – Dale shirtless too now, and looking a bit sweaty – apparently the best of friends. Dale and Jaymee eyed each other warily, and Dale was forced to make another full apology to Jaymee, who looked across to Dave to see if she should accept it. Which, of course, was done.
It gives me a real warm feeling when we can be accepted in this way for what we are by ordinary straight people unfettered by religious claptrap or other prejudices. Dave and I seem to be good mates with the father too, now – he’s called Charlie. Even he, when he found out what we do, expressed a modest interest in getting a bit fitter, so we might even extend our largesse of fitness opportunities to him. We’ll see.
So, a modest blow against homophobia in Oak Ridge TN. Wow!
So, hopefully, Dale and Leo will now be more like this:
…with the hatchet well and truly buried?
Let’s hope so. And if only a few more in the deep south of the USA could see it that way, well, life could be so much better for the minority whose God-given sexuality doesn’t seem to conform to what the so-called ‘God-fearing’ folk demand.
Is a public display of affection like this so terrible?