Hank: (sitting at a café before school and eating a pastel de nata com canela, a custard tart with cinnamon) Hum?
Me: I wanted to get your thoughts on something that happened to a friend of ours.
Hank: Are they okay?
Me: (stirring my coffee) Oh yes, it’s just I wanted to get your opinion.
Me: Sarah went to a professional development thing for women and at one of the presentations the speaker directed the focus of her talk on how to find love and success, etc.
Hank: That is nice.
Me: It is, but there was one glaring problem. The problem wasn’t the love but the speaker made the entire presentation about finding the love of a man and that was incredibly alienating for Sarah.
Hank: (pause) And Sarah isn’t… Right, Sarah loves ladies.
Me: Exactly, and Sarah found it very exclusive to be sitting in a room full of women, her peers, and have to sit through an entire presentation about love between a man and a woman when there wasn’t any indication that the presentation would be about finding love for only heterosexual couples.
Hank: You love who you love.
Me: Which is how I feel and how I hope that every single person my age also feels, but I am thinking maybe they don’t. Why did a woman in 2017 not imagine that her audience would be diverse?
Hank: Why didn’t that woman understand that all she had to say was, “Find Your Person” instead of saying only “man” then everyone would want to hear her?
Me: Right!? Good solution. So this is my question because it is my sincerest wish that when you are the age of Sarah and I, you know… old,
Hank: You’re not old you’re just not so young.
Me: Thank you, I think… Anyway it is my wish that that everyone will understand that diversity, especially in love, is the most gorgeous and important thing. Why didn’t the presenter think to include all love?
Hank: I think that people are lazy. Too lazy to trocas idéias (change ideas).
Me: Ah. (nodding) Sarah told me that eventually another queer, which is how Sarah identifies herself, woman spoke up and said, “not all of us are looking for a man,” but what Sarah found most strange is that the room full of women before then stayed silent. She thought it was strange that no one else thought to advocate or interject the point.
Hank: I wouldn’t have said anything during the presentation, either. I would have waited until the woman was done with her presentation then taken her out for a coffee and explained to her how she was making people feel unwelcome.
Hank: Yes, because maybe she just doesn’t know and she was probably nervous when she was in front of all those women and then interrupting her would have made her more nervous or upset.
Me: So you would have waited for the right moment to advocate and educate someone on an important topic they might not have considered otherwise.
Hank: That is me. I am happy someone said something, but that is just me.
Me: I hear what you’re saying. I see your point. Sarah told me the speaker said after the queer woman pointed out she was being excluded that if her love preference wasn’t for men then SHE should just substitute the word “man” for her preference to herself, in her mind. What do you think about that counter argument?
Hank: Um… I don’t know.
Me: Let’s approach this another way. Imagine how you would feel if you were at a professional development summit for banana sellers. Everyone in the room was a banana seller. You are a banana seller, but your bananas are organic. You know there are other organic banana sellers in the room, but there are no obvious signs between organic banana sellers and non-organic banana sellers and one of the key presentations advertised focused on tips and techniques for buying and selling bananas. But when you, an organic banana seller, go to the presentation the presenter spoke only of buying and selling non-organic bananas with zero thought or attention for the organic banana sellers who would never consider buying non-organic. And finally when one of the other organic banana sellers speaks up and reminds the speaker that there are organic banana sellers in the audience the speaker dismisses their exclusion by saying, “Just apply this knowledge as it pertains to you,” but in all honesty the organic banana sellers have stopped listening and are put off because the rhetoric used making no room for them in the topic or presentation. How would that make you feel?
Hank: (thinking) Like I wasn’t thought of. I would feel like… I would feel bad, I guess, maybe mad because I would be proud of the work I do with organic bananas and that other people didn’t think about my work because they do things a different way.
Me: (nodding) The way “the majority” grows bananas.
Hank: OH. I see what you are saying now.
Me: Great, I am interested in hearing your thoughts.
Hank: It is true that everything I see about love is man and woman. Not in real life, but in books and in stories and at school. That isn’t how it is in real life. That isn’t how your friends all are.
Me: Agreed. So how can we help trocas idéias (change ideas)?
Hank: That is where I don’t know. How would you do it?
Me: I would make all love normal. I would use media and literature and books and films and music to make finding and loving YOUR PERSON normal. There would be a lot more diverse dating and handholding. There would be a lot more kissing in my plan: men kissing men, women kissing women, trans people kissing whom every they wish, people who identify as queer or themselves rather than conform to one specific gender kissing whomever they wish. I would cover the world in kissing until all kissing is considered lovely and romantic.
Hank: (shrugging) I guess that would work, but I don’t care about kissing yet. (eyebrows raised) I don’t like kissing, when I see kissing on TV or some teenagers in the street kissing, like, I feel embarrassed.
Me: I hear what you’re saying.
Hank: But I know that someday I will think kissing is lovely and romantic so it could be a good plan.
Me: (giggling into my coffee)