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.
I wanted him to know that the fashion door would open for him; that as boys got older they gained the freedom to wear whatever they wanted. I needed him to know there were men who had defied the notion of sameness and boredom with what they wore. Harry hung on every word.
My heart swelled as I patted Harry's head. He was happy, and so was I. Because while too many people questioned my young son's preferences, and therefore my skills as a mother, we both stood strong with a cartoon rabbit who carried an anvil in his pink purse.
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.
His curly blond hair was long. He often traveled with a Barbie doll. And those telltale pink shorts were apparently code among the ignorant that I was a bad mother. Because if a boy wore pink back then it meant he was going to be gay.
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.
"I just wanted you to know that my son's dry cleaning will include an occasional beaded dress or sequined tube top," I explained. "He's a performer, and those items are definitely his, not a girlfriend's."
When you watched how different your children were from others, you kept a nonjudgmental, open mind. In the absence of role models, you managed to let me be gay without knowing what that might mean, going against a homophobic stream so ingrained in the Filipino machista system.
When my dad left to pick up some dinner, my mom, whom I've been out to for almost two years, said, "Your father saw your Facebook status when I left my Facebook up. The cat's out of the bag." You see, I hadn't told him.
As our children grow, we look around and wonder, "Is this the right place for us to be? Is this where we want our children to grow up? What is the environment we've chosen teaching them?" These questions were heightened after our oldest son started identifying as gay at a young age.
This week on aNoteToMyKid.com, a devout Christian mother named Shelley from Iowa City, Iowa expressed her personal journey toward accepting her gay son, Michael, while maintaining the religious faith she holds so dear to her heart.