Guide & Follow

To My Kid:

I support you as you evolve. It is such a privilege to share this journey with you. I’ll do my best to guide or follow in uncharted territory.

I’m sad for those who can’t accept that. I’m angry at those who try to invalidate you.

My job is to nurture you and protect you. My job is to make you strong enough to fight for your truth and loving enough to nurture beauty in others.

Endure and flourish, my love.

 


Letter to the Folks

“Amelia” over at the HuffPost‘s Gay Voices page recently published an “Open Letter to Parents.” Though it is addressed to parents in particular, it offers useful and applicable insights to any person who interacts with humankind.

She writes:

Your child might be gay.

I’m not talking about your neighbor’s kid or your cousin’s kid, and I’m not even talking about my kid (although they are certainly included). I’m talking about your kid. Your kid might be gay.

You may want to protest:

“My son doesn’t like show tunes. He likes football and Legos.”

“My daughter doesn’t play softball. She loves princess dresses and pink.”

“My son has a girlfriend.”

“My daughter has a boyfriend.”

“My child is too young to think about those things.”

Well, I am here to tell you that none of those things matter.

She makes a number of great points in this article–it’s worth a read–but I am particularly moved by her observation that our dreams and hopes for our children are important and motivating, but they cannot be allowed to overshadow or squelch who are children are in and of themselves. Hopefully we guide and nurture them as they develop, but they will always grow up to be their own individual.

I eagerly anticipate hanging out with my daughter when she is grown; I believe she will be a formidable individual, and I am positive she’s going to be good fun too!


Embrace against Hate

Hugs. Lots of them.

It is clear to me now that holding my daughter is the most important gift I can give her during this period of intense growth. Since she chose to come out to the world she has grown up so much, but she also wants her mama to embrace her more than ever.

Last night during a long period of silent embrace she whispered, “it’s good to know someone’s here for me, whether it’s grades, sexual orientation, or sexual [gender] identity.”

These days I wonder all the time what we can do to inoculate our kids against the insidious onslaught of a bigoted society? Perhaps holding them as much as they need to be held, every time they ask for it is a start.


NOH8 Indeed

Hiding out in the bedroom with my coffee, sleeping dogs, and the laptop, the room is bright with the east light of late morning.

I hear giggles, shrieks, and incessant chatter. I smell bacon. More happy girl shrieks.

It is the morning of a sleepover with two of my daughter’s best friends.

Last night they were so loud, shrieking and laughing, and running out into the living room to show us their zombie makeup or the “NOH8″ they’d stenciled on their faces like photos on the internet. I looked at my partner, winced, and said:

“I think it’s going to be like this for the next six years.”

He mimed wanting to end it all at the thought.

But I know this is exactly what being 10 years old is supposed to be like . . .

and in this moment I know everything is just as it should be.


Risks in the Family: Vulnerability & Authenticity

Family and Drag – Part I

I want to share a blog post from Pink, Purple, and Blue entitled, “Have a Little Faith.” It touches on so many pertinent issues faced by families and their LGBT members.

Parents, Drag, and Celebration

This bisexual woman enjoys drag, but has not shared it with her mom, because her mom has been only conditionally supportive. Yet, her mother calls her and asks to she the videos of her performances. At first the daughter questions her mother’s motivation and says no, but after time passes the mother is able to express her wish to see them, without the intent to judge.

This posted depicts the complicated relationship between parents and their children, even when the children are all grown up and living life away from home. I hope that the writer is correct and her mother is ready to be exposed to her drag performance videos openly and with acceptance, if not with appreciation.

The author’s hesitation springs from experience. Her mother doesn’t embrace her LGBT identity, but she doesn’t condemn it either. The point that the writer makes about her mother showing up when asked, but not celebrating her daughter’s identity spontaneously is crucial.

Celebrating your kids for being who they are, without being asked is essential to raising healthy, confident kids and having family relations that are authentic and meaningful. This writer says:

I’m fairly certain that my mother will die and I will still never be fully sure about her feelings towards my life. That’s just the kind of person she is; her cards are usually played close to her chest.

This seems like a common sentiment, but such a sad one. I certainly don’t want that with my daughter.

This writer is brave and vulnerable – right on! She’s right if there is headway made at least one party must be vulnerable and take a risk. I wish her the best.

Family and Drag – Part II

Beautiful Transgressions and Taking the Long View

Speaking of taking risks: recently my lovely daughter was in a big, family wedding. She willingly grew her hair out for six months, wore a pastel bridesmaid’s dress, and as far as I can tell didn’t come out to anyone during the weekend, which would have caused drama that both detracted from the bride’s special weekend in the spotlight and added more stress to an already stressful situation. My daughter was gracious and accommodating or at least that’s what I discerned.

BUT – when it came time to pack for the events of the long weekend she announced that she would be wearing her suit and tie to the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. I even took her out and bought some really stylish black dress shoes from the boy’s section of the shoe store. Dressing in what was essentially drag* for the wedding rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, was both risky and beautifully transgressive.

Apparently the wedding planner could stop referring to our girl as he and him, no matter how many times my daughter corrected her.

According to my daughter this angered her, yet I wonder if there is a part of her that expected (hoped) this would happen because it drew attention to the very nature of her gendered performance at that moment. She is shrewd like that – she always has been. It’s one of the things I enjoy most about her. She can take the long view when she wants to undermine the status quo/powers that be.

You definitely can get a sense of this ability in My Daughter’s View of Herself, when I describe her clear three-year plan to address gender, then gay awareness/rights, and then being out at school. She may not be aware of her astute stratagem, but do it intuitively.

She’s taking calculated risks, making herself vulnerable, pushing the envelope of accepted behavior, addressing the reaction, and then pushing further. I definitely don’t want to think of this being directed toward teenage defiance. Yikes . . . and wow.

*Notes on Drag

I say “drag” because this is what it must look like to outsiders, but I don’t think of it this way because from day-to-day, sometimes hour to hour, our girl dress in outfits that range from the extremely feminine to the fully masculine. For us it is all her – there is no differentiation between what is performance and what isn’t. It is all performance, and none of it is.

This morning she went off to school in a short, pleated gray and pink plaid skirt, a gray t-shirt with a pink bow embroidered on it, silver flats with silver roses on them, and a pink and gray sweatshirt to keep away the autumn chill. Her nails are painted a precious lavender and she is wearing sparkly earrings.

Which outfit is drag?


My Kid Educates Others – Before the Haters Get ‘Em

My daughter began raising LGBT awareness amongst the playground set when she was only seven.

She has come up with numerous strategies for starting the conversation. Some begin on the swing set with “do you have a pet?” and then lead to her own gay awareness campaign.

Some begin in the classroom when they are doing worksheets with “do you know what gay and lesbian means?” When as is generally the case her listener says that they don’t know what gay means she gives them an age appropriate explanation, “men who love men and women who love women” sort of thing.

Then she moves on to gay rights.

More frequently these days she seems to end this discussion with coming out, if the conversation has gone well and she likes the person. She came out to her friends in second grade too, but only to a couple of her close friends.

She shares with me that she is afraid of being bullied in middle school. Yet she hasn’t reported a single negative word that any of her classmates have said to her. As a matter of fact, after a play date last weekend she said her friends made her promise not to tell anyone who is mean, because they couldn’t stand it if anyone was mean to her.

Is it possible that she is going to educate most of her elementary school cohort before the haters get to them?

It appears that the school is going to abdicate any role in LGBT awareness/sensitivity education other than some broad anti-bullying education. Thus, there is a vacuum that my girl is filling on her own.

She has chosen to do this on her own.* She was born a crusader – the kind of little girl who had a superhero alter-identity from an early age. She wore her costume after school, weekends, and holidays for years. So, being a gay superhero comes naturally to her self-conception.

I sure hope my little queer superhero makes the world a better one for herself by educating her peers, instead of being limited to coming out into a world of haters.

*I have my own queer identity and commitments but it never occurred to me to expect it in my child. LGBTness and queer equality was just a part of our world. Her lesbian identity and convictions are all her, separate from me. She was born this way and was lucky enough to be born into a community where she always had the language to describe who she is and the confidence to be herself.


But How Do You Know For Sure?

I was asked by someone how I know that my daughter is actually a lesbian.

I believe her when she tells me she’s a lesbian because . . .

when she was seven years old she said, “Mama, I’m gay,” to which I answered “you know you don’t have to decide now. In a few years you’ll reach puberty, you’ll have crushes. There’s plenty of time find out who you are.” Then she looked me in the eye and replied, “Mama, I know how I feel, you don’t.”

I believe her when she tells me she’s a lesbian because . . .

she asked us over and over again for two and a half years, “how will you feel if I’m a lesbian?” We always said we love her regardless of whom she loved. Yet she still felt the need to make sure we were still right there with her. Clearly she knows that being a lesbian opens you up to rejection from family, friends, and society.

I believe her when she tells me she’s a lesbian because . . .

when she describes the girl she likes and her cheeks get flush and her eyes get dreamy.

I believe her when she tells me she’s a lesbian because . . .

she tells me that she thinks another girl in her class is a lesbian and the final statement to her argument is “she has all the awesomeness that I have come to expect from lesbians.”*

Most importantly, I have to trust her to know who she is. I have to trust what I see and hear from her.

Lastly, I believe her when she tells me she’s a lesbian because it’s not my place to say who she is or how she feels. It is my place to love and support her because she is who she is.

 

*Yes, my kid talks like this.


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