My 7-year-old son had never seen a gay couple, therefore we had never discussed the subject. Never, until that afternoon.
He had arrived from school and went into my office, he sat on the floor with a book, but before he could start reading he needed to know the meaning of that word: gay.
"Mom, what does 'gay' mean?"
At the moment his question caught me by surprise, and I wanted to understand why he was so curious to know. Did he read it? Did he see it on TV? Did he hear something in school?
-- "A kid mentioned it in school."
-- "What did he say?"
-- "That it meant when a man is in love with another man."
-- "And what do you think about it?"
-- "I don't know. Is it true?"
Evidently after he heard it in school, it stayed on his mind, but he didn't know if he could believe a kid who was a couple of years older than him.
"There are men who fall in love with other men. There are women who fall in love with other women," I said.
"What? But... that's strange. They can't have babies," he said, with a nervous smile.
"Yes, they can. Remember Ricky Martin? The famous singer? He's gay, and he has two kids."
"But mom, how"? he asked.
"Well... a woman could keep his children in her belly. But they are his babies, they were created with his sperm."
"But without being boyfriend and girlfriend"? he asked.
"Look at them," I said, while we were in front of a computer screen. I was able to show him Ricky and his fashionable kids. We talked about their cool haircuts and about how happy they looked with their dad.
— Ricky Martin (@ricky_martin) January 6, 2014
Fortunately the procreation process had already been discussed. Since he's a bookworm, I had given him a detailed book suitable for his age. That's where his conclusion about two men or two women not being able to have kids came from.
Back to his question... "No. There's a process in which they can deposit sperm into a woman and she can become pregnant," I explained.
"Ohhh!" he said, mesmerized. And then he started reading his book.
Ricky Martin was the example I used, and it worked for me. For now, he understood. The only thing he wondered was about how they would extend their family. Regarding the rest, perhaps having a same sex partner might not be the most common thing through his eyes, but it was understood and accepted, the way it should be.
There's no need to avoid the subject. Your child's reaction might not surprise you, but it can also make your day. At the end, once they process it in their own way, all they want is to continue with their things. Their lives as kids go on.