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Not a month ago, my teenage niece asked me for help with an assignment for school. Let me tell you, after nine months of goo-goo, gaa-gaa and nappy changes, my brain received an electroshock of excitement.
-Uncle Marco, I have an assignment for my Arts class, the theme is "My fashion Hero"... I thought of using you if that's ok...
Sweet isn't she? She is only 13, but she's got enough fashion savvy to bury Rachel Zoe six feet under and the same hunger for labels that used to keep me awake at night when I was her age.
-Of course darling! That's so sweet of you to think of me as your "Fashion Hero"...
-Well.... You are the creative mind of the family aren't you?
She kept on massaging the leftovers of my artistic ego.
-What do you need?

From that moment onwards, for two days followed a frenzied ransack of the attic, in the quest for all my old fashion sketches, my drawings, my prints for fabric, all the photos of my work, the magazine clippings and my beloved Vogue Britain cover (before you ask, NO I was not on the cover, DUH! It was Bella Freud, wearing one of the embroidered jumpers I designed for her over 10 years ago....).
I managed to put together a gigantic pile of material for my niece to browse through, thrilled about her excitement and interest in my past professional history.
She came to collect everything and left my house beaming with happiness, she was going to do an amazing job.

Two weeks later, over lunch at my sister in law's house, after returning all my material, my niece read to me the introductory letter she had written for her project.
"My fashion hero is my uncle Marco.
He is a fashion designer and he has studied in Rome.
He worked for the likes of Max Mara and Bella Freud as designer of embroidered knitwear for very famous people like Madonna and Jerry Hall.
My uncle Marco is very funny and talented and when I was little he used to play with me with my Bratz Dolls. Our favorite game was "Extreme Makeover" where I used to mess the dolls up and after he would wash their hair, and braid it and curl it up to make them all pretty again.
My uncle Marco's favorite quotes are 'All this doesn't just happen!' and 'Fabulous!'...."

Now, isn't this worth it melting for? Obviously, by the time she got to the end of this introduction in front of her class, I am pretty sure that some smart ass might have jumped to conclusions (ie: uncle Marco is a fag...), but the innocence of her rendition... The way she says 'Fabulous!' snapping her fingers just like me.... Awwwwwww..... I was a proud uncle....

-Darling, what do your classmates think of this 'creative uncle' of yours?
I asked, trying to stop visualizing a mob of spotty teenage girls chasing me around a medieval town with torches, howling "Burn the queer! Burn the queer!" .
-Uncle Marco, ALL my friends know that you and uncle S. are married and are gay...
-WHAAAAT?! How do they know?
-Because I told them... I even showed them some pictures of your wedding years ago... They didn't believe that two men could marry.... So I showed them that they can....
-Oh crap....But...But.... And what did they say?
-Nothing really..... Some of them were more disappointed in being proven wrong. The boys mainly...
-Oh.... They have not given you any hassle? Used any words....?
-Uncle Marco, ALL my girlfriends wish they had uncles like you and uncle S. They could go shopping with you, put on face packs and watch America's Next Top Model and have advice on outfits.
She said that hugging me and, in a weird sort of way, this 13 year old made me feel safe....

This whole thing has been the topic of conversation over dinner ever since.
Was I always wrong in fearing this modern youth? Do I have a chip on my shoulder the size of a Louis Vuitton steamer trunk?
Is the bullying I suffered as a teenager still haunting me today?
I came to the conclusion that the right answer to all these question is YES!
Thanks to the Square Nanny (the TV...), homosexuality has reached every house and every reality. Homosexuals now host their daytime chat show, they are rampant lawyers sharing an apartment with ginger haired fag-hags for the sake of some cheap laughs, they are comedians that pack theatres across the country or musicians that are regarded as the backbone of the music industry.
Someone still argues that TV is responsible for glamourising the gay lifestyle, as if it existed as such.... How your bedroom antics end up defining your whole being is still a mistery to me....
They talk about it as they would about glamourising eating disorders or drug abuse. Please.
Truth is that thanks to TV, an entire generation has grown up with a place in their mind for homosexuality, a place that is not as dark, hidden and guilt ridden as it used to be, but open, objective and somewhat positive.
Homosexuality is in the process of being rescued from immorality and thrown into reality and the everyday.
Maybe all the trips to school I imagined, where I plan to set fire to my son's bullies or drag them behind my car, wont happen after all. Maybe tolerance is not the answer, maybe education is, because we learn to tolerate what bothers us, but what about learning that there is no bother with homosexuality to begin with?
I remain hopeful if a little scared. Come on new generation, there are still 5 years for you to learn. Then it will be school time.
And yes, I will keep a blowtorch handy..... Just in case.





5 comments:

Mickey said...

Who knows? Homophobia doesn't manifest out of nowhere. Kids learn it from their parents and older siblings. Maybe the generations that grew up on shit like Will & Grace are going to raise open minded kids?

I have a very similar attitude to yours: cautious optimism with a blowtorch hidden in my knickers.

Marco said...

Now.... Why do you wear knickers? ;0) x

ANGELA said...

Brilliant darling!! Lauren will be really chuffed that you mentioned her.
You are my hero it is so good I can't stop reading. Can I share with my friends it is such a good read.

tobias said...

love that story. I so can relate to that and feel the same. It is some times hard to believe the world has changed so much and is more open now, then when we where younger ( ages ago in your case). Still we are not fully there jet. keep writing

Marco S.

steven.newey said...

My Darling Papa you are the Best!
Daddy and I Love you very Very Much
Gabriel & Daddy xx