“In addition to actively encouraging certain behaviors in their children, parents also communicate their gender expectations (Gamble, 2003)(p.202).”

I was watching a re-run of the popular 90s hit television show Friends the other day. It happened to be a significant episode involving Chandler’s dad, who is gay. When Chandler was nine, his father announced, at Thanksgiving, his intentions of divorcing Chandler’s mom because he was gay. Since that moment in Chandler’s life (and among others), Chandler has been increasingly sensitive in regards to his father’s homosexuality. His father, Charles, moved to Las Vegas and started an all-male show called ‘Viva las Gaygas’, hence the title of the show. Charles Bing’s drag name was Helena Handbasket.

Chandler has always felt uncomfortable with his father’s identity as a homosexual, not necessairly because he disagrees with being gay, but more so because of his young impressions of it. It’s easy to make impressions on young children that can last them a lifetime. Chandler was also embarrassed by his father when he was young due to society’s homophobic attitudes, as well (DeFransisco, 2007). He would become nervous and embarrassed if his father came around him and his friends. As a result, during his adulthood, Chandler is sensitive to homophobic accusations and combats them with humorous jokes as a defense mechanism, which can also connect back to his childhood memories and the embarrassment he feels when it comes to his father. By the time Chandler’s tells him that he’s gay, Chandler’s perception of a family has dramatically been altered–interupting the family impressions of gender communication that are so important to developmental health (Gamble, 2003).

Crane, D., & Kauffman, M. (Writers), & Bright, K., & Halvorson, G. (2001). The One with Chandler’s Dad. Bright, K. (Producer). Friends. Burbank, CA: Warner Brothers.

DeFrancisco, V., Palczewski, C. (2007). Communicating gender diversity: a critical approach. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Gamble, T. K., & Gamble, M. W. (2003). The Gender Communication Connection. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.

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