My oldest son turned 7 a couple of months ago, and we had a big party with most of our family and friends. My niece Jamie arrived late because she had dance class that day. The present process had already been completed, and all the kids were running around like the crazy people they are. When my son spotted Jamie, he ran straight for her and engulfed her in one of his full-body hugs. She handed him his present, but he didn't make it past the card.
Jamie is an adorable and creative kid in her tweens, and for her cousins' birthdays and Christmas, she likes to make them little art projects about their names or the things they like. For this birthday she made my son a card with a picture of Blaine from Glee on the front. He was ecstatic. He immediately gave Jamie another hug and then ran around the party telling anyone who would listen, "This is my boyfriend Blaine. Jamie gave him to me." He couldn't have asked for a better present. And because he was surrounded by open and caring people, the responses were all, "That's great!" or, "He's pretty cute!" Jamie was so proud of herself for making him something he liked so much.
When I talk or write about how I consider the possibility that my son might be gay, people sometimes get upset. Why do I want my son to be gay? Why do I encourage him? How am I sure?
My gut reaction to questions like these (the one that usually stays in my head) is, "Those questions don't make any sense."
Having a child isn't like buying a new car. No one goes to the kid dealership and says, "I want the male heterosexual model with blue eyes and brown hair. I also want to add the athletic and musical options. Can I get the math and computer skills option without the teen social awkwardness, or do those always come together in this model?"
I want my son to be my son. I want him to be who he is, and like who he is. If he's gay, that's great, and if he's straight, that's great, too (or anywhere in the middle, for that matter). He may have come from my husband and me, but he is his own individual. I hope we are giving him the foundation to make good life decisions and choices, but whether or not he's gay isn't one of them. Because being gay isn't a choice.
I would like to think we encourage all the possibilities of who he may become. Part of that is supporting the things he likes. Right now he likes Blaine, ninjas, football and the movie Our Neighbor Totoro. And usually in that order. Why wouldn't I support all those things? Why wouldn't our friends and family? They make him the awesome little guy he is. Questions like "Why do you encourage him?" imply that there is something wrong with my kid. And there is nothing wrong with my son.
Am I sure that he's gay? In a word, no.
He's in the first grade, and it would be foolish and irresponsible of me to label him anything. He's not telling me, "Mom, I'm gay." As he grows up, it is his job to figure out who he is. If and when he decides to tell me is when I'll know for sure, and not before. Right now he is just a little boy with a crush on another boy. It feels right to him and makes him happy, and that's what matters to me.
That doesn't mean I don't worry. He isn't always in the cocoon of safety we provide. As he becomes more and more outspoken about his "boyfriend" (and despite not being allowed to watch the past few episodes of Glee -- they've been a little mature for him -- his crush remains steadfast), I know a negative reaction is only a matter of time, and I hope the foundation he's been given can stand up to it.
And it also doesn't mean we wait and do nothing. We have talked to the people in our lives and made sure that they know about his crush and know that we think it is totally OK (and won't put up with hearing a hear a word against it). We have an appointment with the principal of his school to talk about their policies on homophobic bullying. And those things happen away from him.
So, I am happy when my niece goes out of her way to make him something she knows he'll like. And I am even happier to know that Jamie made it with the knowledge and blessing of my brother and his wife. I want my son to know that everything about him is beautiful and worth celebrating. And I'll keep the hate away as long as I can, so that he can be my innocent little boy for as long as the world lets him.