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  • Jamie McCarthy

Queer Family Values.

23rd August 2019.

As queers we are mostly brought up in non-queer families or environments. Hopefully, in some places thas beginning to change a bit, but when I was with my friend Shaun yesterday I was thinking about how much queer perspectives don't get passed down from generation to generation in the way non-queer families and environments pass things down. It's something of a cliché, but a cliché because it's true, that in the vast majority of environments heterosexuality and cis-binary gender are assumed for children as they grow up: it's seen as the default until the young person is able to state otherwise. All that "She's a real charmer with the fellas / He's a real flirt with the ladies' applied to a two-year-old. I've yet to hear 'He's a real flirt with the fellas' or 'She's a real ladies woman that one' or 'They always bat their eyelids at the femme boys' and I suspect that would be viewed by a lot of people as a bit risqué, 'imposing' non-hetero-cis-sexualities and gender upon a child, (of course, the current state of affairs is just seen as 'normal' and not in the least bit imposing). So touchy is the subject of non-hetero / binary / cis lives, that a lot of people seem to have kittens about even mentioning the possibility of us even existing to schoolchildren.

Because there is no handing-down of experiences, models of queer ways of being from parent / carer to child, it's not until someone gets into some kind of queer world that other possibilities of other ways of being, different kinds of relationships become visible. By that time a lot of hetero-cis-normativity has seeped into our consciousnesses and it takes a lot of cleaning of the system to see other kinds of relating and being in an equal way to the ones we were raised with. Just imagine if we had that experienced passed down from generation to generation: 'Oh yes, your nin-binary auntcles have been together for 20 years now, of course they don't live together and have various other partners, but you know, it’s a time-tested recipe for a happy relationship .... you can't beat tradition!' Because the things is, the wide variety of queer relationships (including the relationship to yourself and the world of 'being single') are 'traditional', they've always existed, but they've been erased; we may get hints of them from the 'disappeared' relative or the 'couples' who 'were close', but never get labelled as being together ... but they're never celebrated. And it’s great 'n all that gays can get married now in some countries (as you might know, it ain't something I'm bothered about'), but it's a celebration of something that is as close as possible to the the straight-cis norm. What if all the different types of queer relationship were recognised, celebrated, seen as 'traditional', knowledge of them passed from generation to young people? What if queer relationship traditions were widely acknowledged and worlds of possibility and variety were opened up to the young 'uns? Celebrated, not hidden away or just tolerated ...

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