So, Kevin, age 15 and now a sophomore in high school, came home yesterday and was telling me about his day at school. He said that in his art class, they have been assigned to create some artistic rendering representing Generation XY, and that it should have some sort of political statement (a potentially volatile assignment, for sure). What he came up with is a cartoon of Freddie Mercury, Ian McKellen, and Billy Joe Armstrong, all people he admires, and all gay/bisexual. The political statement Kevin wants to get across is that same-sex marriage should be legal. When I asked him why he thinks same-sex marriage should be legal, he said, “Well, making it illegal is like making marriage illegal to someone just because their hair is blonde.”
Man, I love this kid. And what he’s saying isn’t just regurgitated dogma fed to him by me or anyone else. We, as a family, of course talk about tolerance – how could we not with Finn in our midst? But Michael and I try to frame our discussions in a way that allows the kids to think for themselves. I think that’s one of the greatest gifts a parent can give their children: the ability – the freedom – to think for themselves and to come to their own conclusions about the world. I’d like to believe that Kevin was just born with an open, tolerant heart – actually, I believe that about pretty much everyone; it’s upbringing and life that changes that – but obviously having a brother like Finn has driven it home for him, and his ideas about tolerance and acceptance extend far beyond the world of disabilities.
So he and I talked about his project and his thoughts for a while. I said to him, “You know, Kevin, that probably some of your very close friends don’t share your views about this topic because they come from families that are against it because of their religious beliefs.” He said, “Mom, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I have friends from just about every belief there is. I have a Muslim friend, a Christian friend, Catholic friends, an Atheist friend, a Mormon friend, and a Buddhist friend.”
Maybe he’s just growing up in a different time than I did – maybe diversity is the way of things nowadays. I’d like to think so, but I don’t know. Maybe it’s just where we live. But the fact is, Kevin could care less. He seems to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, regardless of their skin color, their orientation, or what church they attend (or don’t attend). And I have to say, that probably makes him more tolerant than me; I’m so weary of all the religious rhetoric. I’ve become very jaded about it, and in all honesty, people who start going on about God become suspect to me: I doubt their ability to think rationally. I know I’m not supposed to say that, or think that. Like I said, Kevin is apparently more tolerant than I am in that regard. And for the record, he’s undecided about what he believes. Which I think is very cool. He doesn’t seem to be easily swayed by whomever he’s hanging with. He has a mind of his own that he’s only beginning to discover.
The older he gets, the more proud I am of the person he is and the person he is becoming.