Tis The Season

I was hard at work early in the morning on Thanksgiving and didn’t hear about the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade until later in the day. A friend posted that a performance by drag queens had been allowed and he’d had to explain it to his kids.

I found out later that it was a performance by the Broadway cast of the hit show Kinky Boots. When I looked up the video, I was appalled. Matt Lauer gushed about the musical and the name came up on the screen before a small army of men wearing thigh-high stiletto boots (some of them in all-out drag) began performing two songs from the show.

To be sure, I would like to see Kinky Boots. It sounds like a fantastic musical. The problem I have is that this is being marketed to kids during a family-oriented program. I had heard a kid ask his father in a hospital ER what the word “kinky” meant. The father was stymied. That really isn’t a conversation you want to have with your child before they’re old enough to understand what sex is in the first place. I didn’t realize why the child was asking until I heard about what had gone on.

Naturally, a few people were upset by the display. I cannot imagine my brother or any of my cousins having to tell my nieces and nephews why a bunch of men are prancing around in drag; if one of them had asked me, I would have changed the subject. It’s not a conversation that I would be ready to have. I can understand why some folks would be upset by this – and Macy’s had to know that it would cause an uproar. Strangely, though, most of the big-name conservative pundits – Michelle Malkin, Sean Hannity, Sarah Palin, Megyn Kelly, and a host of others that the left points to has hatemongers – haven’t said a word about it. The Advocate, however, proclaimed in its headline, “Conservatives Outraged by ‘Kinky Boots’ Performance in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.” The Huffington Post reported that “the performance received an instant backlash of often-homophobic negativity on social media…” right before linking a Twitchy page that didn’t have an ounce of homophobia on it, only a lot of people questioning whether Kinky Boots is really all that family-friendly.

So who was it that was being so hateful? None of the conservative pundits I respect and admire. I have no idea who Amy Stradling, Andrea Latta Hardgrave, or “Broccoli Bob” are, but apparently the leftist websites were so desperately in need of examples of hate that they posted their Tweets and their full names and then passed it off as all conservatives somehow showing their true homophobic colors.

To be fair, it is ridiculous to claim in all caps that Macy’s ruined your entire holiday. If your holiday was ruined over this performance, that is your fault. Neither Macy’s nor the cast of the musical is at fault for your bad day. If you let it get to you that much, then you have issues you need to work out on your own. I do not, however, think that it was appropriate for the parade and I’m annoyed with producer Harvey Fierstein’s response to the backlash. He said, “You have to start a dialogue, and you can’t have a dialogue unless someone says something first. It takes actual work to open up [people’s] minds.”

Harvey, this is not an exercise in opening people’s minds. It’s little more than an attempt to shock them into numbness. That is not the way to win anyone’s hearts and minds. Compared to some drag shows I’ve witnessed in the past, yes, this performance was tame – that’s not necessarily a good thing. Either way, it was still too shocking for a good portion of the audience, and you should have considered that before including it during family programming.

This isn’t about homophobia. It’s about not being comfortable with our kids seeing these things. To label it as homophobia leaves people blind to the real thing when it does rear its ugly head, just as accusations of being a racist or a Nazi leave people unwilling to believe that it really still happens. Stop abusing the word. Learn to live in their world and maybe, just maybe, they’ll be open to living in yours someday.