Wrong. To a few other moms it was a big deal. How could she allow her son to dress up like a girl? People might think he’s gay. My God! He might even be gay. Oh, the humanity.... Anyway, the woman stuck to her guns and told the others to back off. For that I applaud her. Yay!
I had a similar incident with one of my sons when he’d just turned seven. He loved Build-A-Bear Workshop and would save every penny of his $1 per week allowance just to buy a new furry pal. One day, after months of vigorous saving, he announced he was ready for his next Build-A-Bear purchase. He’d saved extra money to buy something really special, something he’d dreamed about. He didn't want to tell me beforehand. He wanted it to be a surprise.
“Now my tuxedo bear has a wife!” he exclaimed. “They’ll be happy and in love forever!”
Awww, what a sweet boy. Did we get a few looks in the shop? You bet. Did I have to prep my husband and other kids before they saw it? Yep. Did I question my son’s sexuality? Ha ha ha …
No, I didn’t fly into an oh-my-god-he’s-gay fit. The kid was seven. He still thought The Wiggles were cool. But it prompted me to wonder what it would be like if one of my children did end up gay. How would life be different for them? How would they fare?
I’d be lying if I said I’m not a little worried about the issue. Not that I care whether or not one of them is gay. They are who they are and I’ll love them regardless. Plus there are a lot of super cool gay folks out there. Just watch TV. There’s Ellen DeGeneres (funny), Jane Lynch (funnier), and Squidward (hilarious), as well as knowledgeable experts like Anderson Cooper (news), Suze Orman (finance), and Tim Gunn (making it work). It’s just that being gay can be so, well, hard.
I know that for most it gets easier after teendom, but when I look at all the stories on the news lately -- the bullying, the suicides -- it breaks my heart. I can’t imagine the pain and torture those kids went through, the pain other kids are going through right now. When I was a teen, I felt so lonely at times. No one understood me. I struggled to fit in. If you saw me walking down the halls you’d have never guessed I felt that way. I kept it all inside. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do, keep it inside?
And I was ‘normal.’ I can only imagine how hard it would be to go around worried people might discover who I am and not like it, to live in a society rife with messages saying how I felt inside was wrong. I worry about how difficult it would be knowing there were people in the world ready to ostracize or hurt me simply because I was different.
It’s hard to admit this, but I don’t want that for my children. Having straight kids would sure protect them and me from whole lot of pain. Do I sound selfish and ignorant? Because I feel selfish and ignorant. I know our society has come a long way in its acceptance and understanding of others, but it has such a long way to go. It scares me. My love alone cannot protect my children. I want them to be happy. I want them to be safe.
But I want them to be themselves, too. Being gay isn’t a problem. Living in a world that doesn’t fully accept gay people is.
So let me make an open statement to my kids right now: If you’re gay, don’t feel you have to hide it from me. I love you just the way you are. If other people don’t like you because of it, screw ‘em. They’re missing out on one great kid, plus there are plenty of folks out there who could care less how you slice your sandwich. Hang in there, stay strong, and know I’ll always be your soft place to land…. Now go take out the garbage. You heard me. Just because you’re gay doesn’t mean you don’t have chores. Sheesh!
Anyway, that’s how I see it. How about you?