Little known fact: North Carolina’s state motto “Esse Quam Videri” Latin for “One penis at a time, please.” And perhaps that had a little something to do with the 61% vote on Tuesday (May 8) that approved an amendment to the state constitution that reads: “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.” Just some added insurance, I guess, since state law already bans same-sex marriage. North Carolina joins 28 other states that already have constitutional language defining “traditional” marriage.
I don’t want to pick on North Carolina too much—plenty of enlightened, kind people call it home. Plus, you can go to the mountains and the beach in the same day. I mean, so long as you are waving one of these out of the car window:
Plus, I’m from West Virginia, the modern pop culture representatives of which include one of the stars of Teen Mom 2 and a Joad-esque family of repeat offenders on Night Court.
I write, in fact, to honor the people who fought the amendment to North Carolina’s constitution—those who will not have to explain to their children why it was so important to spend time, money, and energy prohibiting something in a state constitution that no one was forcing them to do. Just so, ya know, a group of people could be legally labeled as second-class citizens if they don’t fall in love with the right person.
So, to those on the side of the angels (the real side, not the imaginary “angels hates gays” side), here you go: a pop culture kit for annoying those who would advocate for anti-gay bigotry and indoctrinating their children.
Now, you could take the easy way out: a few choruses of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” maybe a little “Freedom ’90.” But then all you have are dancing bigots and you’ve not really sent much of a message, especially to the bigoted voters’ children. Especially since those children would remain in the room for 0.6 seconds before bolting for the door and starting a new life in the woods at the sight of a bunch of gyrating parents. No, I suggest, you take a quieter, more refined approach. And that refined approach begins with some book learnin’.
Children’s literature is an embarassment of riches when it comes to exposing what’s at the core of gay marriage–or any marriage not staged exclusively for E!–love. Since a loving, stable family unit is so core to many religious arguments against gay marriage, kiddie books about families that just so happen to be headed by gay parents are a guaranteed win for bugging any proponents of same-sex marriage bans. My personal favorite is And Tango Makes Three.
Tango tells the story of two male penguins who raise an egg together. Said egg becomes Baby Tango and they live happily ever. The book was based on real-life Central Park Zoo penguin couple Roy and Silo, who drew the ire of Focus on the Family and other hatemongers who wanted to make sure that the media knew the two penguins had engaged in plenty of heterosexual activity.
If And Tango Makes Three is too abstract to antagonize your friendly neighborhood North Carolina anti-gay-marriage activist, try the less obtuse Heather Has Two Mommies or Daddy’s Roommate. Fail safe. But what if the voter you’re trying to bug isn’t much of a reader?
Well, hey, everybody loves to stay in, pop some Orville Redenbacher, and watch a movie. Start out slow with Doing Time on Maple Drive, that 1992 TV movie gem about a golden child who nearly kills himself trying to forget that he’s gay when he brings his fiancée home to meet his angry, WASP-y parents. They’ll be so busy watching a young Jim Carrey play the feckless drunk older brother, they’ll almost forget to be mad that the central character does not, in fact, change his mind at the end and marry a woman anyway. Ten bucks says they’ll want to watch it again to see where the father went wrong, half-assing his browbeating of his gay son.
I might also recommend The Kids Are Alright, the 2010 Oscar-nominated comedy-drama about a lesbian couple dealing with meeting the sperm donor who made it possible for them to have children. The couple is as loving and the family as typically dysfunctional as any. The trick will be overlooking one character’s light switch approach to bisexual infidelity. But, in the end, the couple stays together and that will certainly give your bigoted voter, both, pause and the vapors.
Next, offer to share your favorite CBS Schoolbreak Special with the voter and his or her adolescent children.
The 1987 special “What If I’m Gay?” will initially fill your homphobic voter with smug delight when the main character is discovered stashing male porn mags in his bedroom (“See?!?!? With their magazines and their disco dancing and their shiny pants!”). Said voter will be less impressed by the understanding high school counselor and supportive friend who help the young soccer star come to terms with his identity. But by then, it’s too late and their children have seen a measured, reasonable response to someone’s sexual orientation.
In a pinch, I’d recommend just surfing Hulu+ or YouTube, doing a keyword search for “Very Special Episode.” You’re bound to find hours of helpful sitcom wisdom about best friends coming out.
Failing that, you’ll at least ensure that you, the ignorant voter, and his or her child will think twice before going to that creepy guy’s bike shop to watch mouse porn.
Or making fun of someone who has epilepsy.
Or wandering off with a stranger.
Thanks for everything, Diff’rent Strokes.
But I digress: you might also find some Growing Pains clips featuring Kirk Cameron as Mike Seaver. Cameron’s outspoken, hateful stance on the very existence of gay people must thrill many North Carolina voters who supported the same-sex marriage ban. But their children will take one look at the douchebag who never takes off his bathrobe, hangs out with a guy named Boner, and hallucinates his dead grandfather and think, “Wait. I’m not sure this is a credible guy.”
If all else fails, why not show that child any movie, play that child any song, or read that child any book that centers on loving relationships and families? Because any love song or love story applies to anyone in love. The story of any parent in a constant state of panic and awe as they watch their kid navigate the world is applicable whether there is one vagina or two waiting for the phone to ring at 2:00 a.m. Kids are smart…I have a feeling that 61% of kids in North Carolina are going to figure out the truth soon. I just hope those kids do it with and not in spite of their parents.