I've been thinking of my own early years as a queer youth: how despairing I was, how wrong I felt, how terribly unseen and unheard. Then I remembered my suicide notes, how occasionally I would write one and leave it around to be found.
A few months earlier, in the summer of 1992, Harry had told me, "Inside my head I'm a girl." So I knew biological differences between boys and girls didn't make that much sense to him. It was what was in his head that mattered.
It might not come as a surprise to you that Noah Michelson, Executive Editor of The Huffington Post's Gay Voices vertical, is a proud queer man. What might surprise you is how young he was when he first discovered his pride and sexuality.
If we keep talking to that little girl for the next 10 years as if it's her destiny to fall in love with a man, how will she react to herself and others if she finds herself attracted to the girls around her, not the boys? Or to both?
Here was my boy acting on his feelings, giving a gift to another boy he thought was attractive. But as much as I thought it was adorable, I also dread moments like these, because as the father of a gay child, the only thing that really worries me is other people's potential reactions to him.
Never once did our kids talk about their orientation. It was like they didn't need to discuss it. They both knew that the kid on the other side of the computer screen was gay, and that knowledge was enough.
I think my husband is doing a great job of teaching them what it means to be a man. My sons learn from him that men are strong, smart, silly and creative. But what am I teaching our sons about what it means to be a woman? My sons learn from me that women are strong, smart, silly and creative.
Ours is a theater family. I have two sons currently studying theater in college, and as often as we can, we find our way to the theater. It was therefore no surprise that this mother would find herself in the audience of Terrence McNally's Mothers and Sons, sitting between her gay twin sons.
The sound of the doorbell was followed by echoing thumps of a basketball on the wooden floor of our front porch. I put my hand up as a visor against the glaring afternoon sun and recognized Louis, my 8-year-old son Harry's friend from across the street.
What I admire is seeing a boy who is effeminate remain that way into adulthood. I am a college professor, and I see male students who are just as nancy and fay as can be. I admire their strength. If I had not trained myself to be more "normal," would I have been more like them?
Part of me gets it. Kids go through phases when it comes to what they like. But the Darren Criss thing? That one hasn't gone anywhere. And I get how unusual it is to see such a young child identifying as gay. But another part of me gets really tired of having this conversation.
My middle son was tired, so he was nestled against my chest as I floated on my back. "Mom," he said, breaking the silence, "I want to be gay." This was unexpected. My middle son had never had boy crushes like my older kid, and last year he wanted to marry a female classmate.
My son's romantic feelings toward a gay male character raise eyebrows. People worry about it being too adult and wonder what my son could possibly know about sex. But these are never things we worry about when little girls want to be Cinderella and profess their love for Prince Charming.
By trying to eliminate the need for a gay son to come out, I created an environment where a straight son felt the need to come out. As I try to learn from my mother's mistakes, I may be making some new ones of my own. I guess that's how it goes with parenting.
I always assumed the years of hiding my truth from my dad didn't matter, that once I came out to him we'd have all the time in the world to reconcile our opposing viewpoints. Instead, closure was another thing we didn't get to share.
We told our son that he had to choose between Jesus and his sexuality. Choosing God, practically, meant living a lifetime condemned to being alone. So, just before his 18th birthday, Ryan, depressed, suicidal and disillusioned, made a new choice.
What could I say to this young man who meant so much to my kid, this young man who, by playing a television character, had helped lead my son to tell me about his orientation and, by extension, helped change the trajectory of my own life toward activism?