I shared a dressing room with a couple of nine year old boys when I had to stand in for some dancers in Ballet West's production of "Madame Butterfly." In an effort not to make us baby sitters, (it's debatable whether it was an effort so we wouldn't be baby sitters or so we wouldn't corrupt the little ones) the powers that be would get a parent to hang out backstage. The parents would often ask us a lot of questions, which I think was one part conversation and three parts curiosity. I remember one mother in particular. She was worried for her son, and that society's prejudices would plague him being a male ballet dancer. So I started to think...
Had I ever felt society's views on a male ballet dancer, misguided as they may be? Except for my close group of friends, I never really advertised I was a dancer. Around seventh and eighth grade I was a little more open about it, but it wasn't until a dance for the incoming freshmen of the high school I was planning on attending that I really came out, so to speak. I was really shy because I new absolutely no one there, so I latched on to the one person I knew there. Much to my consternation, he went around introducing me as "This is my friend Ryan. He dances ballet."
The response to this news was almost magical. Girl's eyes would light up and say "Really?" and be genuinely impressed. Ever since then, I haven't tried to hide the fact that I wear tights six days a week. I mean, heck, I'm "Best Senior Dancer" in this years senior directory, and 99% of the class has never actually seen me perform. They just see me leap down the halls.
So I told the mother she had nothing to worry about. I'm extremely confident of our generation, that the bigotry and prejudice of our parents is not passed on; that we are defining our own values and views. That the mother should let her child do what he loves to do, regardless of what others think of it.
I'll get off my soap box now.