To many younger people these days, there is little controversy surrounding the issue of homosexuality.
Not long into high school, the “How was your day? question went from routine to revelatory.
Every once in a while, my son would settle into the car, or take a bite of dinner, and say nonchalantly that someone had come out that day. A fellow student had let it be known that he or she was gay.
“That’s great,” I always said, happy to hear that another kid had found the courage to be his true self. Acceptance had become an everyday thing. And if I ever wanted a better world for my kid, well, there it was.
I sense that President Obama experienced the same thing with his kids as he journeyed toward supporting same-sex marriage.
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“Malia and Sasha, they’ve got friends whose parents are same-sex couples,” Obama said of his daughters in an interview with ABC News. “And there have been times where Michelle and I are sitting around the dinner table and we’ve been talking about their friends and their parents and Malia and Sasha, it wouldn’t dawn on them that somehow their friends’ parents would be treated differently.
“It doesn’t make sense to them,” Obama said. “And frankly, that’s the kind of thing that prompts a change in perspective.”
Even at the White House, gay rights and same-sex marriage are discussed at the dinner table.
Questions are being raised, opinions passed around — but it’s the adults who are chewing on things the longest.
Once again, kids are leading the way, moving on, and leaving us to ponder what we believe. Becky Varnell, 66, of Normandy Park, told me she is used to seeing generational change up-close. She’s a former teacher, and a mother.
The kids in her life “keep me current,” she said. “They talk to me about things quite often.”
But not long ago, it was Varnell who was doing the updating: A friend came out as gay after 40 years of marriage.
It took Varnell a moment to process, but it was barely noted by her daughter — which Varnell took as progress.
“You just want people to be happy,” Varnell said, then paused. “Kids just see things with different eyes, don’t they?”
But for some people waiting for a glimpse of the president on Thursday, his same-sex shift was a loss of focus. What about unemployment? The homeless and hungry?
The world’s gone a little crazy, if you ask Bev Stuchell, 69, who was visiting from Eugene, Ore.
She told me of a school district that wanted to make all its bathrooms unisex. It was voted down, thank goodness, she said.
“I think it’s the way kids are growing up now,” Stuchell said.
But there are those who stay pretty close to the family doctrine.
Lars Halstrom, 62, was standing outside the Paramount Theatre with his daughter, Hannah, 22. He’s taken up photography in his retirement and was there to capture the scene.
Has she changed his views about anything?
“I don’t think so,” said Hannah, who just graduated from college and is living in Seattle.
Her father wasn’t buying Obama’s change of heart.
“He’s a politician and it’s a political statement,” he said of Obama’s support of same-sex marriage. “And it would look bad if his family didn’t go along with it.”
What is the president doing anyway, deciding policy based on the views of his two young girls?
“They probably don’t know much about the Bible, either,” he said, “and who created marriage in the first place.”
When he and his daughter talk, Halstrom said, it’s about unemployment “and how much we’re still going to have to support her.”
“Times are tough,” he said, “and the emphasis should be on the economy, not marriage equality.”
LGBT activist and Seattle Lesbian co-editor Charlene Strong just had a daughter of her own, and looks forward to all kinds of questions — even “Why do I have two Moms?”
“I will tell her because she is very lucky,” Strong said.
Surely it won’t be the environment that Strong grew up in.
She didn’t come out until she was 33, and her father had passed away. There was no discussion at her dinner table.
“I waited because of everything I had heard from the pulpit, my family and the world,” she said. “I think the kids are getting it far better than their parents are getting it.”
Nicole Brodeur’s column appears Tuesday and Friday. Reach her at 206-464-2334 or firstname.lastname@example.org.