With an anti-LGBT agenda, the conservative Christian right uses the terms “family friendly” and “not family friendly” as a means to indicate the absence or presence of “gay content.” These classifications are used to rate all forms of media and government policy including recommendations for what schools and libraries should carry, or worse, ban.
Mobile is revitalizing downtown, the neighborhood with the largest concentration of LGBT population. Recently a “family friendly” street fair downtown blocked off Dauphin Street. After listing all the fair’s children events, the advertising went on to say, “Come and enjoy downtown Mobile in a safe, family-friendly way.”
Why not a simple “Enjoy our ever-changing downtown Mobile. Come see what we’ve been up to?” Why the need to point out safety or family or friends? Aren’t those givens, right from the start? We who are keenly aware of the marginalization of people have come to believe “family friendly” is code, meaning this event is not for LGBT, not for you, not for me.
To go one step further, is “safe” code for “whites only”? We cannot compare it to Jim Crow. People of color are legally permitted to join in but Jim Crow didn’t vanish because the Civil Rights Act was passed. It just went underground.
I can’t change the Christian conservative right’s use of “family friendly” as anti-LGBT branding. However, I believe I can shine a light onto organizations and businesses that sponsor these public events downtown. Could we limit or end the use of “family friendly” branding by very publicly pointing out how this classification is manipulated in the same fashion by actual hate groups?
Public events should not use the code words “family friendly” or “safe” with the not-so-hidden intention of making LGBT or black citizens feel unwelcome. For those heavily cloaked in straight or white privilege, this issue is very difficult to grasp. Perhaps we can turn the tide against these insinuations by openly recognizing them for what they are.