Every queer person has parents. Every one of us is, or at least was, somebody’s baby.
On The Prancing Elites Project, at least three of the Elites are having challenges with their parents. Tim’s mom won’t see her as anything other than her son, while Jerell and Cantrell are trying to get back in touch with fathers who did bad things in the name of gender enforcement.
When you hear the story of a 12 year old thrown to the ground and having a gun held to their head, or a father who takes a kid on drug deals to teach them how to be a man, well, it breaks your heart. And when those kids come back to try and reconnect with their fathers, you know that takes an amazing amount of transcendence on their part.
Sometimes fathers are still chickenshit and sometimes they are able to acknowledge their past failings, but they always struggle. I know personally about how hard it is to help parents who will not or can not understand how they hurt you as a child, demanding that you take care of them when they should have been taking care of you.
These Elites are growing up strong, though, even if they still have a hurt child inside, so when they are asked to perform at a Homecoming for queer kids, they know how to show up as big siblings and take care of the kids, with energy and encouragement.
There are two new probationary Elites in this episode, gay dancers with energy and a desire to be seen, but it is clear that what they don’t have is ownership of their own queer power. While they show up in nice, neat clothes, the Elites show up in bold, beautiful finery, shining with heels and makeup, claiming style in the face of a world that wants to keep them small and boring.
Even Tim, the most timid of the Elites, feels called to speak as she wants to give all the support she can to her younger family members. And when Jerel hugs a queer kid in a bow tie, you can hear the heartbeat that connects them through a body mic and maybe the tightest hug ever.
It’s great that we have such an awareness of queer kids nowadays, but it seems important to me that every queer person is somebody’s baby, that we all have a queer kid inside of us who took a battering because others felt entitled to enforce gender normativity with a vengeance.
When I see queer babies transcend that experience and reach out to others, taking care of them as tenderly as they should have been taken care of, it gladdens my heart. We don’t claim queerness in the world just for us, we claim it as a gift we can give to those who follow us, making their options just a little bit bigger, their choices just a little bit easier.
That doesn’t mean babies always understand that choice. After all, a huge part of claiming your own power in the world is learning to fight for yourself, even with people who love and cherish you. Young people, at least, understand that. They don’t want to give into their parents, at least not today, but they also know that there are worse things than growing up to be as strong, smart and loving as they are.
It takes a lot of time and effort to claim your own unique expression in the world, to find that queer balance between being tame enough to be a valued member of the group and being wild enough to be powerfully yourself. If you do it well, though, you serve a world where everyone needs a little help to get their hurting inner baby into a more copacetic future.
But the Elites? They know that very well, sweet babies that they are.