Having a conversation over on Steve Barnes's blog (darkush.blogspot.com) -- about homosexuality. In response to one post I found myself wondering what my kids would be struggling with --
My parents had to learn accept the equality of people with different skin colors, different ethnicities. I don't think it was difficult for them, and certainly there was no racist language tolerated at our house when I was growing up. I didn't hear about the Jewish conspiracy, the yellow breeders, the wetbacks stealing jobs, the criminal blacks -- until I was older, and then it was from people about whom I could make some pretty good judgements ...
I grew up in an anti-gay atmosphere. My Dad was a good guy -- but he looked down on the queers, the "three dollar bills." Didn't think they should be serving in the military, didn't want them in the locker room, thought there was something fundamentally wrong with them. He softened on that stuff later in life, but never got rid of it. (My mother's a remarkable woman -- never had a bigoted word about any human being she ever met or discussed, not in my hearing. The worst thing I've ever heard her say about anyone was "I guess she wasn't raised to be very thoughtful." My mother's had a difficult life in many plaes -- if you think no white people have picked cotton in this country in the last century, you'd be wrong; she did it at four years old, and remembers worrying that they wouldn't be paid for the cotton she picked, because her hands were bleeding and she was getting blood on the cotton. At four, and that's not the worst of what she endured. How she turned out as sane and wonderful as she did is a mystery to me, but I'm glad she did.)
At least in my late teens I was already clear that I thought gays should be permitted to marry, that it should be illegal to discriminate against them in jobs, housing, etc. Certainly I was aware of their existence -- I was pretty when I was younger, though I don't remember being tempted in those days. Certainly not by the men who were actually hitting on me -- even now I don't find men my age attractive, and back then the middle-aged men trying to get into my pants were simply repulsive to me. This goes to my "practicing heterosexual" description at this point in my life -- women my age are still attractive to me, and men my age aren't. Today even if I wasn't married, I doubt I'd be dating people in their 20s of either gender.
In my mid-20s I found myself with gay friends. One fellow in particular I ended up spending time with, and we hung out in a gay bar together. This buddy never tempted me -- but some of the guys in that bar did. Without getting into detail, let's call the thought the deed -- I suppose that could be compared to being an anti-semite and suddenly finding you're Jewish, or, under the "one drop" rule, to hating blacks and abruptly finding you had black blood yourself, some generations back. (Not necessarily that many generations, either -- light-skinned blacks have been passing for a long time, sometimes with their own families.) I got past it, and a few years later was pretty comfortable with what was going on inside my own head -- but it was an adjustment.
My kids won't need to make the adjustment. Other people's sexuality more bores them than otherwise -- some people are gay, or bi, or whatever, and some people like strawberry ice cream: what else you got?
So what comes next? When they're my age, what are they going to be having problems with, which of their assumptions are going to be challenged by changes in mores? Polygamy? Gender changes becoming more common, a la Varley's old stories? I don't see that in 30 years. Age of consent? I'm skeptical that's going to change -- it's gone up, not down, with every increase in the complexity of society; very few people at 18 today are functioning adults, with the complexity of modern society.