Trigger warning: this piece contains abuse details that are very upsetting.
Well, here’s a heartbreaking tale. A Southern California couple has pled guilty to beating an eight-year-old boy to death because they thought he was gay.
Here are the facts: Peal Fernandez (the boy’s mother) and her former boyfriend, Isauro Aguirre reached a plea deal last week, and will be imprisoned for life without parole — which, according to KNBC, means they’ve avoided the death penalty.
But it’s not like this was one time. The couple tortured the boy for months, calling him gay, beating him when he played with dolls… and more you can read here, but you’ve been warned. Finally, on May 22, 2013, Gabriel’s mother called 9-1-1 because he wasn’t breathing. He died two days later from extensive injuries. Injuries, I should note, that teachers and his grandparents had tried to tell social services about, but had been ignored when child welfare workers visited. Why? Because the child did not have an immediate or specific plan to take his own life. An eight-year-old boy.
First, what matters here least is the boy’s sexual orientation. A little boy was tortured because his parents were homophobic sociopaths. An eight-year-old boy is a child. And if a child wants to play with doll — hell, if anybody wants to play with dolls — you let them play with dolls because that’s what they want to do. Dolls — and I know I’m repeating common sense here — don’t make somebody gay.
So what do you do if your child is gay? What if you think your child might grow up to — gasp! — want to date somebody of the same gender? What does that mean for you, as a parent?
It means nothing. It means you thank your lucky stars that you’ve raised a person who knows who they are. That they trust you enough to tell you their sexual orientation, when it’s really none of your business at all. You hope the best for them, just like you would anybody else, and then that’s about it. You support, and you champion, and you don’t worry about prefacing “son” or “daughter” with “gay” because sexual orientation has nothing to do with you. That’s how you proceed. And if they’re kids and are showing “signs”? I cannot.
To start, gender-based toys and ideals are damaging. Pink for girls and blue for boys is equally so. Telling boys not to cry is why men are still beating women on the regular. Telling girls that a boy likes them because he’s mean to her is setting her up for a lifetime of abuse and patriarchal values. Forcing kids to confine themselves into the very boxes that have resulted in our own generation enduring hate crimes, sexual assault, domestic violence, and the whole spectrum of shittiness is just as backwards as… well, everything I just said. Look at that. Look at what anti-feminist and homophobic values have come to deliver. That is reality.
We, thanks to centuries of patriarchal values, are totally screwed. But we, thanks to slowly seeing how damaging those values are, can make the next generation’s lives less so. And you, as a parent (I am not a parent, I am just a person), can abandon myths that being gay is bad, or being emotional is weak, or that little boys don’t play with dolls. Odds are, when you were prepping to become a parent, you weren’t consumed with worries about your son or daughter’s sexuality. Probably because you know, when thinking about things like health or happiness, sexuality doesn’t matter. They are and always will be your kid. Everything else is irrelevant.
Or at least I assume so. Like I said, I’m not a parent. I am just a person who’d like to stop hearing about kids being killed by the people who “love” them.