Sunday, March 27, 2016

"Xavier"

I learned recently of a short story by the British Council Arts. It's called "Xavier." Here is how they describe it:
Nicolas notices his 11-year-old son pays a lot of attention to slightly older boys.
Here is the story in a bigger nutshell: Xavier's teacher tells his father that the boys is struggling socially in school. He is distracted and he is socially isolated. He mostly air-drums. And the only students that he is drawn to, and vice versa, seem to be older boys. For the record, these older boys appear to be anywhere from 1-5 years older than Xavier.

Nicholas hosts a lunch with his brother and his niece. His niece brings along two of her male friends. Nicholas notices that Xavier is drawn to one of the boys, Filipe. He smiles a lot in his presence and he can't stop looking at him. This becomes especially apparent when Filipe asks Xavier to help him learn how to drum.

The older kids eventually leave, but not before Nicolas invites Filipe back to their home at some unspecified point in the future.


I found myself in the middle of a stupid online fight about "Xavier" this weekend.

One side thought that "Xavier" is a great example of a parent recognizing that his young son is gay and that he was making sure that his son knew that he was accepted and loved.

The other side thought that "Xavier" promotes early childhood sexual activity and that the father and the older boys in Xavier's life are modeling sexualized behavior in this obviously young child.

I can see elements of both sides of this argument, which means that I ended up getting attacked pretty viciously by one of the guys arguing here.

Here are my thoughts on the matter. I think both sides are projecting their own pasts into this story. Some guys suffered from parental disapproval as teens when it became clear that they are gay (or at least, when they displayed more effeminate mannerisms during their 'tween years). The guys on the other side of the argument suffered from unappreciated sexual advances when they were too young. So there's that.

I do think that Xavier is meant to be a blossoming gay boy and I do think that his father is realizing this. I don't think that he is pushing his son into a relationship with Filipe -- at least, not a sexual one.

One of the arguments against "Xavier" is that his father tried sending Xavier to a show with the older children. He was accused of setting him up on a date. I can see that, but I don't agree with that interpretation. I think that he was trying to encourage this new friendship and he was sending his son on a group outing with multiple children (including a close family member).

This is something that parents used to encourage instead of one-on-one dating. If everyone is together, they are much less likely to have time alone to experiment sexually. Which assumes that Nicholas is setting Xavier and Filipe up on a date. Which he's not.

I personally think that Nicholas is worried about Xavier's social isolation. I think that he's assessing the people around. And he's trying to encourage the friendships that Xavier potentially has, even with an older boy.

I used to play with older children when I was Xavier's age. Not "play" play, but play. I also had friends my own age, but some of my favorite childhood friends were a few years older than me. So maybe my own history is affecting my take on "Xavier." I'm okay with that.

You can watch the entire video here.

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