A Taste of Honey


By Rich Juzwiak

What America can learn from the seven-year-old reality star Alana Thompson.

Photography by George Lange

Some people love TLC’s Toddlers & Tiaras spin-off Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. Some people hate it. And still more love to hate it. Regardless, there was a moment on its season finale that no one with any sense of social justice could argue with: It happened when the reality show’s seven-year-old principal personality, Alana Thompson (a.k.a. Honey Boo Boo), told the camera with her typical flippant sass, “Ain’t nothin’ wrong with bein’ a little gay. Everybody’s a little gay.”

Initially, it may have seemed as outlandish as any of the show’s outbursts—although since those normally come in the form of bodily functions, this one was more polite than usual. But really, who better to deliver such a clear message of equality than a child?

Thompson is the voice of a generation that will look back on the current absurd attacks on gays in the same way many of us regard reality TV today -- yes, these things happened, but they are too ridiculous to be believed. Driven by her love of her gay paternal uncle Lee, she is an example of how mere exposure to gay people can shape acceptance, and how wrongheaded the antiquated belief is that children must be kept away from gays. The haters like to claim that teaching kids about even the existence of homosexuality will cause confusion, but we see none of that here. (That argument is garbage, anyway, since being confused is an integral part of being a child.) When reached by phone, Alana’s mother, June Shannon, says that when she explained what “gay” meant to Alana, Alana’s reaction was, “OK. It is what it is.” Here’s a kid who gets it, because it’s really that easy: Gay people are people, too -- and they’re great.

Tags: Television