You know what happened to me this weekend? I watched a show on TV -- a rerun of Glee, actually.
And suddenly, this weird feeling came over me. It started in my fingers, a kind of tingling sensation. It went up my arm and into my chest. Then, through my whole body. I felt like I was on fire. My heart started pounding and I began sweating all over. I felt terribly dizzy so I lay down to try and get a grip.
And then, suddenly, it stopped. As quickly as it began. I ran to the mirror and looked at my reflection staring back at me. And then I realized...
That TV show had turned me gay.
Ok, ok. None of that happened. I'm not gay. I do actually like Glee though (well, the first season, anyway). But this story -- about as believable as an alien abduction -- is an anecdote many people out there would have you believe.
This weekend, a group that calls itself One Million Moms (strange, since they only have 40,000 members) launched a campaign against The New Normal, a new show from Ryan Murphy and one that I am pretty sure they have not even seen. They issued a press release calling for a boycott of NBC and any sponsors of the show.
"NBC is using public airwaves to continue to subject families to the decay of morals and values, and the sanctity of marriage in attempting to redefine marriage. These things are harmful to our society, and this program is damaging to our culture."
One Million Moms (to whom I will refer from this point as A Bunch Of Mothers) staged similar campaigns recently against JC Penney to protest the retailer's hiring of the Ellen DeGeneres as a spokesperson; and against DC Comics when the rebooted Green Lantern became an openly gay hero, and against Marvel Comics' when one of their X-Men, Northstar, married his significant other. Neither boycott had very much effect -- Green Lantern, DeGeneres and Northstar weren't fired and, as far as I can tell, both are still gay.
A Bunch Of Mothers wants you to believe that shows like Glee, Ellen, The New Normal and Modern Family will turn your children gay and damage our culture. They truly believe that my story above is plausible, even likely.
Look, they are entitled to their beliefs. This is America, after all. They are allowed to believe, and say, anything they want. Unfortunately, they do not feel the same about the rest of us.
A Bunch Of Mothers obviously thinks that we are not mature enough to watch a TV show and make decisions for ourselves. They fear we are not good enough parents to know which TV and films are appropriate for our children. Worst of all, they believe that TV characters who represent real people amongst us are destructive to our families and our nation.
Fortunately, they are also pretty darn ineffectual. As much as they claim to have gotten The Playboy Club cancelled (for too much hetero sexual content!), they fail to understand the true reason the show got the ax -- it sucked. Glee is still on the air. Modern Family still has a gay married couple (and a Gayby), and now The New Normal will (hopefully) show how, well, normal having two dads, or two moms, has become in this country.
So, the harm these mothers do is not to our TV channels or the sponsors that support them. The danger presented by A Bunch of Mothers, like that of the wrongheaded decision by The Boy Scouts of America to ban Gay Scouts, is the content of their message and the chill it creates. While fictional TV characters cannot alter the sexuality of a viewer, campaigns of hate can influence thoughts and emotions, especially amongst young kids. These mothers put out their poisonous message, and somewhere, some kid believes that being gay is bad.
This does two things: it encourages gay kids to feel bad and fearful of being honest about themselves; and it encourages other kids to fear gay people. Why are gay kids bullied? Possibly because A Bunch of Mothers peddle hate in the press. Why do gay kids commit suicide? Possibly because A Bunch of Mothers and others like them create an atmosphere where that seems like the only choice.
So, I'm here today with a message for these mothers, and for anyone who believes their misinformation and hate filled propaganda:
First, being gay is not a choice -- no more a choice than, say, being a woman, or being white. Second, a TV show might make you realize you are gay, but TV cannot make people gay. One is born gay, or they are not. Last (this is a big one, so pay close attention), historically, research shows that somewhere between 2 percent and 4 percent of Americans identify as gay or bisexual (it could be far more, but maybe you can understand why people might be hesitant to identify themselves as gay?). At the mid-point, this would mean that approximately 1,000 of you have gay kids. Hey, don't shoot the messenger -- it's statistics.
So, you Bunch Of Mothers have 1,000 gay kids. I know this is a rough statistic, but no more so than One Million Moms. (But if you were actually One Million strong, you'd have about 25,000 gay kids!)
That son, in New Hope, who tells you he's a confirmed bachelor? He's probably gay. Your daughter, in Portland, who's 37 and still has a female "roommate"? Also, very probably gay. TV didn't make them that way, either. But they have left home -- they escaped -- so I'm not so worried about them.
More worrisome are the kids still living with you. Those who aren't gay are being raised in an environment of hate. They are learning that intolerance is acceptable and being different is not. How do you think that will affect them and their relationships? And 10,000-plus gay kids, living with you mothers, under your roofs, what are they learning? That their mothers think they are somehow less worthy than other people because of how they feel or who they love.
So, no, mothers, I don't worry about the kids who watch The New Normal. I worry about kids who read your press release and believe it. Most of all, I worry about the kids being raised by A Bunch Of Mothers.
TV doesn't damage society. It can be turned off. Hate cannot.
Correction: A previous version of this post stated that Green Lantern married his partner. Actually, X-Man Northstar got married.