Leslie Robinson

Mainstreamed in the Press

Filed By Leslie Robinson | May 22, 2012 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Media, The Movement
Tags: advice column, Ann Wauters, Barry Caadan, Belgium, drag queens, Isis, lesbian moms, LGBTQ youth, Mainstream media, Marysville, out lesbians, pink prom, same-sex marriage, Seattle Storm, The Seattle Times, Washington, WNBA, Zac Burr

Being the old-fashioned type, I have a newspaper delivered to my door every morning. Thumbnail image for bigstock-Reporter-2749807.jpgBeing part of modern American society, I rarely have time to read it.

But last week I managed to scan a couple of issues, and there in my old-fashioned newspaper were distinctly modern morsels. These items treated gays not as criminals or political footballs, but as members of society.

Somewhere William Randolph Hearst is asking, "What fun is that?"

Monday's local section of The Seattle Times included the headline "Being Themselves at the 'Pink Prom,'" and two photos from the weekend event.

The top picture's extended caption began, "'Vnitii Fair,' or Barry Caadan, 22, of Seattle, helps put a necklace on 'Isis,' or Zac Burr, 19, of Marysville."

Marysville is about 30 miles north of Seattle. I'm guessing the phone lines in that small city are still burning.

After explaining the prom is for "lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth," the caption noted how long the two have been doing drag, and that Burr performed in a show for the first time that morning.

"I like making new friends, and I love feeling beautiful," Burr said.

Perhaps in the period since these pictures ran a fence has gone up around Marysville to keep Burr in. Or out.

A newspaper is supposed to inform, and The Seattle Times did its job in sending a photographer to the event, running the pictures and explaining to the clue-free - that would be most people, no matter how liberal Seattle is - the appeal of a pink prom and drag.

Some of us might quibble that only female pronouns should've been applied to the drag queens in the caption. Maybe, but not long ago we'd have counted ourselves lucky that the newspaper didn't use "it."

In Thursday's paper I spotted a double helping of respect. The lead story in the sports section was a preview of the Seattle Storm, as the women's hoop team starts the WNBA season. The Times included factoids about each player, and the info on new Belgian center Ann Wauters amounted to a lesbian full-court press.

Wauters "enjoyed being pregnant simultaneously with her partner, giving birth to her son, Vince, on June 1, 2011. Legally married in Belgium, her wife's daughter, Lou, was born May 12, 2011."

Wonderful. Honest. But to a homophobe, that description is one very offensive foul. Such a person wishes for safer offerings from a newspaper, like, "Wauters enjoys watching soccer and her favorite food is Fruity Pebbles."

If that person threw down the sports section in disgust and headed for the fun parts of the paper in search of relief, he got another jolt. Next to the comics and under the horoscopes, the advice columnist answered a question from two lesbian mothers.

Between that and the sports blurb, my horoscope should've said, "Observe how things tilt to your advantage today. Avoid beets."

The woman who wrote to "Ask Amy" said she and her partner have two young daughters. Her partner talks often about losing weight and diets, while she doesn't. "Body image has been such a painful issue for both of us. I don't want to pass that on to our daughters in this already diet/body image-obsessed world," she wrote.

Amy dispensed respectful advice to the parents that they should get in sync, see a nutritionist, involve the kids in food prep, never criticize anyone's body in front of the children and perform other miracles.

It was the same advice she'd have given straight parents. Unlike the pink-prom photos or the Storm blurb, this advice column is syndicated, so LGBTQ people around the country read it that day and saw true equality - the chance to be screwed up on an equal basis.

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