My brother was in middle school when gay marriage was legalized in Massachusetts. Later that night, I was rehashing the development with my parents at the dinner table when he interjected to ask what we were talking about. We explained that our state was the first to allow gay people to get married but he still looked baffled, “Wait… you mean they couldn’t get married before?”
“No,” we said and added, “Like how black people and white people couldn’t get married for a long time, but now they can? This is kind of like that.”
“WHAT? Are you kidding? Black people couldn’t marry white people? That is ridiculous!” He was shocked. Such preposterous prejudice was beyond his comprehension. It was the stuff of “olden days,” like when people wore white wigs… not recent history.
In a Newsweek article about black optimism, former U.S. Senator Carol Moseley Braun tells this anecdote,”I collect black memorabilia and I’ve got a sign in my kitchen that says ‘We serve colored, carry out only.’ My son thought it was a joke.” Is it a flaw in our educational system that kids are blind enough to history to falsely project equality where there was none? Or is it simply the oblivious optimism of youth to assume that all the ugliness has since passed?
It reminds me of that brilliant Daily Show “It Gets Worse” clip, which lambasts John McCain for planting his feet so firmly on the wrong side of history. Skip to 3:50 to see the fake video, in which the comedians point out that McCain will be the George Wallace character in the documentary they make 20 years from now. He’s the guy so firmly entrenched in his dying position history paints him as a moron for not seeing the writing on the wall.
At least when they make that documentary, some kids will turn to their families incredulous, shocked that there was ever a point when being gay was anything other than one adjective, like brunette, to describe a person.
Related Post: See how earnest we were about gay marriage back in 2004?
Related Post: I’m from MA, we get dressed up in those white wigs and shoot at each other. It’s awesome.