The ability to use another culture’s idioms—use them correctly, that is—yields unprecedented access to that culture’s world. Once your children achieve advanced proficiency with gay culture’s most difficult linguistic challenges, they will be as comfortable at a gay marriage rights fundraiser as they’ll be at a straight wedding. More importantly, they will feel a well-deserved sense of accomplishment, pride, and empowerment.
Research (I did a ten-minute Google search) has shown that people who acquire a second language early in life organize their second language knowledge in the left frontal region of the brain—the same region where their first language knowledge is organized. In other words, straight children who learn your gay language do not have one region of the brain associated with their straight language and a separate one for their second, gay language. Instead, they have a single seamless network of neurons and synapses. Their brains have been miraculously transformed—in the same way we wish all of society might one day transformed. This is not to suggest that these second language learner have become members of the second-language culture (your children won’t turn gay just because they know your idioms), but they are able to think the way a gay person thinks.
We can observe this phenomenon in your straight children’s use of the final gay idiom we’ll discuss in this blog.
Child-friendly definition • the “sixth sense” that allows someone to intuit another’s gayness
Sample sentence • “Mommy, my gaydar went off when that waiter came to our table.”
All children are naturally fascinated by the extrasensory powers implied
within this idiom, the root of which comes from a twentieth century technology
once considered state of the art. Your children will want to have this power too. Just knowing that the expression exists will make them pay closer attention to people in their everyday world. “Is my doorman gay or straight?” they may suddenly ask themselves. “What about my soccer coach? My next door neighbor? How would I know? How can I develop gaydar?”
As your children reexamine the world through a new lens, they will learn the
valuable lesson that appearances can be deceiving. Gently steer your child away from the use of unfortunate behavioral stereotypes. Help them recognize and appreciate the subtleties of gay body language and expression. One day, when you least expect it, they will come to you proudly and announce, “Daddy, I think _____ might be gay.” You’ll ask, “What makes you think so?” and your child will say, “I’m not sure. It’s just my gaydar.” And that’s when you’ll know that your child has owned both the idiom and the powers of perception behind it.
Remember, it’s up to you to keep the language of your culture alive. Your gay idioms are a cultural treasure trove that can enrich your straight children’s lives—and transform their brains, too.
Do you have favorite gay idioms? Leave a note in my guestbook.
© 2008 by Carrie Smith. All rights reserved.