"Scrambling for Crumbs"
The Gene Leahy Mall was busy
on the warm spring day, with people
jogging or strolling or lounging on the grass.
"I'm hungry. Are you hungry?
We should get some food,"
Stan said to Lawrence.
"I could eat," Lawrence agreed.
"I'm always hungry," said Fiddlesticks,
and Hefty nodded. They were off-duty,
but that didn't slow anyone's metabolism.
"I smell cupcakes," Stan said happily.
"Great, we can get ourselves mugged
by pigeons scrambling for crumbs,"
Lawrence said with a smirk.
But the cupcakes turned out to be part of
a bake sale under a GenderCops banner,
meant to raise funds for an alternate spring dance
so that high school students could be protected
from the "gay menace" at school events.
Lawrence wore a distinctly unhappy expression.
The vendor took one look at Hefty and Fiddlesticks
in their Omaha Police Department t-shirts and
tried to entice them into buying. "Surely you
support youth morality!" she said.
"Yes, I mentor gay youth," said Hefty.
"They need older gay role models."
The vendor wilted visibly, then
then turned to Fiddlesticks.
"Don't look at me," Fiddlesticks said.
"I may be straight, but my best friend is gay,
and I'm not supporting anything that disrespects him."
"Also gay here," Lawrence said.
"And I'm bi," Stan said,
"so that's me out too."
"Thought you were hungry, though?"
"I'm not that hungry," Stan said.
"There's another booth up ahead,"
Fiddlesticks pointed out.
That one turned out to be for Camp Everybody,
an inclusive summer camp outside of Omaha,
and they were making burgoo in a large grill.
Stan's stomach growled a demand,
quickly echoed by Fiddlesticks.
"We'll start with four," Hefty said as he
stuffed money into the overflowing tip jar.
"Excuse me, I need to empty that again,"
said the boy manning the table. By the time
he got the tip jar emptied into the lockbox
and the order rung up, his sister had laid out
four steaming packets of aluminum foil.
"Here you go." Hefty paid for the food too.
"You look busy," Lawrence said.
"Yeah, the GenderCops are finally
good for something," the boy said, grinning.
"Pretty much everyone who's not over there
scrambling for crumbs is stopping here
to buy meat and potatoes."
"Leave room for dessert," the girl advised.
"We have Campfire Apple Crisp
and Banana Boats too."
"Dibs on buying dessert," Stan said quickly
before Hefty or Fiddlesticks could.
They claimed a picnic table and began
carefully picking open the foil.
Sometimes when you came across
trouble, all you really had to do
was walk away from it.
* * *
Gender policing is a pattern of harassment or abuse based on people's gender presentation, often intersecting with homophobia on the premise that women are "supposed to" desire men and vice versa. This harms children and adults in many ways. The results are even worse when uniformed police get involved. Most of the time, Terramagne has better ideas than here, but sometimes they have worse ones; in T-America, the gender police have become an actual hate group that routinely hosts exclusive events. There are ways to fight back.
Being gay poses many challenges for teens. One is discrimination at school dances for wanting to wear different clothes or take a same-sex date. Such discrimination is not legal at public schools, although people often try it anyway -- so people have hosted private, alternative dances where they can discriminate. Conversely, some youth have demonstrated that orientation is not action, choosing a date across lines of sexuality.
Mentoring is a useful leadership tool for cultivating the next generation. Gay youth especially need mentoring programs. Here are some good tips on mentoring.
Privilege theory has value in raising awareness, but also some serious drawbacks. One of the latter is that it makes people feel helpless by claiming that privilege is inescapable. It's not. All you have to do is what Fiddlesticks did: decline it, whenever someone tries to entice you into discrimination. This kind of support matters, because accepting privilege is a major driver for bigotry. That's just one of many ways to be a straight ally.
Summer camps often segregate children by ableness, sex/gender, and other traits. Happily, some camps make their inclusivity explicit, like this: "Durham Parks and Recreation strives to make all programs, services, and facilities accessible for all individuals and families, regardless of race, color, age, religion, gender, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation or ability level."
I always heard of campfire foil packets called "burgoo" as any combination of meat and vegetables thrown together. When I looked online, I found burgoo referenced as a stew and foil packets listed separately. So take your pick. Here are the campfire dessert recipes.