My nephew is seven. The other night he announced that his best friend’s big sister loves One Direction, but he and his best friend think they’re gay. Translation: they hate their music.
I’m pretty sure he knew he’d made a mistake when I stopped whatever I was doing and gave him my full attention.
“Do you know what gay means?”
He knew it was a trick question, but he also knew he couldn’t back out now. So he told me:
“Gay means if you’re a boy you like boys and if you’re a girl you like girls.”
“That’s right. And what does that have to do with hating One Direction?”
“So don’t call something gay if you don’t like it. You know that’s not what gay means.”
It’s so easy for kids to pick up prejudices. When did gay become such a casual insult anyway? When I was a kid nobody would have said it, in case it backfired and people thought you were gay. But now it’s like it’s come out the other side of the looking glass and it’s everywhere. That haircut? Gay. That video game score? Gay. This homework assignment? Totally gay.
And don’t mistake this for harmless. It’s not the same intolerance my generation grew up with, but it’s still intolerance, and it's still as fucking wrong.
My nephew’s a good kid. He’s a smart kid. He thought over what I said for a while. Then he said: “Aunty Lisa, you know those guys LMFAO?”
“I like them. Do you want me to tell you what LMFAO stands for?”
For the record, he did, but he whispered it.
I hope these are the moments that count. Not being told what LMFAO stands for—I already knew that—but the other stuff. When the adults around him call him on the things that are important, and try really hard to keep a straight face when he asks you if it’s true what Mum told him: You have to be over thirty or a rock star before you can say the word fuck.
Oh yeah, that’s absolutely true.