Yesterday this meme was all over my Facebook wall.
First off, let me clear, I’m happy to be friends with so many people who want to openly support gay rights. Nonetheless, this meme is missing the mark. It somehow manages to be insulting to virtually everyone in the world, while simultaneously claiming, in a roundabout way, to be advocating for gay adoption rights.
‘I’ve never met a gay person who “accidentally” had a kid they didn’t want.’
Where to begin? As I discussed in my last post, the compulsory hetero/homo binary has created a world in a which a lot of people identify as gay or lesbian and still have sex with people of the same gender, for any number of reasons. There are scores of gay and lesbian people who have accidentally made a baby. I have met them.
And let’s talk about the quotation marks around “accidentally.” Are we to believe that accidental pregnancy is not a thing? The only way I can read this is in the voice of those weird sex ed movies we all had to watch:
“If you’re old enough to have sex, you’re old enough to handle the consequences.”
This kind of sex shaming allows us to distance ourselves from the realities of people dealing with an unplanned pregnancy by blaming them for having the nerve to have sex! Which we are also doing! Or trying to do!
Yes, often when we have sex, accidental pregnancy is a risk. However, every time a plane crashes, we don’t say
“Well, those idiots never should’ve gotten on that plane! If you’re old enough to get on a plane, you’re old enough for the consequences. Oops, my flight is boarding!”
This, I realize, is not the best example since babies and plane crashes are not always equally disastrous, but sometimes they are! By distancing ourselves from accidental pregnancy, by hypocritically judging it, we’re giving ourselves permission to not feel compassion for someone who may be going through a very rough time.
And that’s ultimately what bothers about that top half of the meme. The phrase “a kid they didn’t want” is maybe the worst part. In 5 words, it takes for granted that “wanting” a baby and being able to care for one are the same thing. Now, I’m sure there are babies that are completely unwanted by their parents. But there are also a hell of a lot of children in the foster care and adoption system who were given up or forcibly removed because their parents, in one way or another, could not provide for them. By buying into this discourse of “unwanted babies,” we’re erasing the pain of parents who lose their children and the joy they experienced while together. Furthermore, given the racial makeup of kids in the system, we’re once again buying into the script of the welfare queen, the drug addicted mother, the gang banger father, stereotypes that are almost without exception leveled at people of color.
“If you don’t want gays to adopt, tell straight people to quit having kids they don’t want.”
Oh you thought we were done? Don’t go yet, we have to find out how to get gays to stop adopting. That is what’s so crazy about this meme. I happen to know, because of the friends I have who shared it, that they interpreted this as a pro-gay statement. But it can just as easily be read as a very practical piece of advice on how to get gays to stop adopting.
It frames gay adoption as the problem, and not the bigoted views that would lead someone to hold that opinion. I don’t want gays to stop adopting. Or lesbians. Or bi, or trans, or poly families, or anybody, as long as those people want to adopt and can provide a good and loving home for the children they bring into their lives. Ultimately, that’s the crux of the issue. Gay people are not adopting because we just want to help out straight people. And we’re not doing it on a whim. It’s not as if we got off our latest cruise, mimosa in hand, and had to decide between a shih-tzu and a baby and thought “You know, let’s take the baby, it’ll live longer.”
Gay couples struggle for years to be able to adopt children, sometimes unsuccessfully. We’re prohibited from adopting as couples in many states, including my own. And we can’t be certain that the laws won’t change tomorrow and take our kids away.
If straight people suddenly stop having kids they “don’t want,” there will still be gay couples who want to adopt. You can’t solve that “problem,” because it’s not a problem. Where is the meme that says “If you don’t want gays to adopt, shut up” or “If you don’t want gays to adopt, stop being a huge bigot”? Queer people are not here to be your problems anymore than we’re here to fix them. The problem is not that some queer people want to adopt. The problem is that some bigots don’t want them to. Where’s that meme?
UPDATE: In answer to “Where’s that meme?”, one of my dedicated readers created this meme: