Last week a home movie-style video entitled "Too Much Beyonce?" was posted on dailymotion.com. It showed a preternaturally talented boy of about 7 years old performing an exuberant rendition of Beyoncé’s megahit "Irreplaceable."
I would say the little guy was lip-syncing, except he can clearly be heard singing (and sometimes screaming) along to the music. With all his high drama, sista-girl moves, one might affectionately label him "queeny." Someone such as right-wing chippie Ann Coulter would simply call him a "fag."
Popular culture is full of boys like this one. Think cross-dressing Ludovic Fabre of the 1997 movie Ma Vie en Rose. On television, it’s Justin Suarez, Ugly Betty‘s flamboyant, preteen nephew, a younger, browner version of Will & Grace‘s Jack. Justin worships at the altar of Martha Stewart and adores Fashion TV. Justin’s achingly funny performance of Hairspray — on the subway — is making its own way around the web.
Justin, Ludovic and the real-life Beyoncé boy are kids we know. We also know their female counterpart, the tomboy/baby-dyke, but don’t see too much of her on-screen.
We laugh knowingly when we see these characters or notice swishy mannerisms and butch behavior in other people’s kids. But as parents, many of us worry when we get a whiff of something queer in our own children.
It was mainly mothers and fathers who responded to this provocative question that was posted along with the 3-minute Beyoncé video: "Is this the result of too much Beyoncé on young black boys? Or is this the home movie of a future Grammy winner?" You can imagine the crazy talk that followed. Here’s one of the worst examples (the typos are his):
HE’S TO IN-TUNE WITH BEYONCES’ PROFILE AS A WOMAN,WHICH SHOWS TO MUCH OF THIS KID FEMININTY TO BE A BOY.I DON’T BELIEVE ANY FATHER WOULD FIND THIS VIDEO CUTE OR TASTEFUL FOR THEIR SON TO BE DOING THIS …
Or course, this kind of ugly chatter isn’t much of a surprise. Sadly, it’s just to be expected. But many lesbian moms and gay dads also wonder, either secretly or not, whether our children will turn out gay because we are. And I’m not talking strictly about the so-called gay gene debate. We have no idea if that exists, except maybe in sheep.
If homosexuality is an inherited trait — which those of us who’ve had same-gender attractions from the womb assume — it’s probably akin to left-handedness, which affects about 10 percent of the population. To break it down, that’s why Dick Cheney could have a Mary Cheney. And Mary might soon have another Dick. (Interestingly, some of the same wacky theories have been put forth to explain both homosexuality and left-handedness — mothers with hormones out of whack, stress at birth, too much exposure to ultrasound.)
Some parents I know worry about whether raising children in a lesbian or gay household somehow "makes" them gay. In other words: Are we turning our kids into mini-me’s? Some of these feelings are nothing more than self-loathing that we haven’t been able to shake. And some of it is real fear: We are afraid that we will be attacked by the kinds of narrow-minded folks who do that sort of thing — and worse, our children will be punished.
I’m saying "we" just to be inclusive. But I’m not one of these nervous Nellies. My son plays with Barbies as well as Polly Pockets, the itty bitty dolls with absurdly tight plastic clothes. My 10-year-old daughter casually announced that she would never have to deal with boys and their mess because she is a lesbian. A few minutes later, my son asked if he is one, too. Though I gave them both the stock lecture about how they are too young to know who they will be attracted to in the future, I smiled.
None of us should worry that we’re making our kids queer. They either are or aren’t. The affect we can have on them is to accept them and make them feel proud of who they are. Or make them feel bad — just like people made us feel.
I love this unnamed boy in the Beyoncé video. He may be a budding RuPaul. But then again, he might be the next R. Kelly. Either way, I’m glad he chose Beyoncé as his role model rather than any of the many hard-core rappers who think all women are slutty, gold-digging bitches. If I knew who he was, I’d give him a shout out. You go boy!
P.S. "Too Much Beyoncé" wasn’t the only recent video controversy. A group of black gay men formed their own unofficial chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. Check out their "absolutely fabulous" antics and the comments that followed here.
Linda Villarosa is a former editor of The New York Times and executive editor for Essence magazine, and has authored and co-authored several books. Her first novel, Passing for Black, will be published next year. She lives in Brooklyn , N.Y., with her two children and her partner, Jana. Write to Linda at email@example.com.