I have always been very vocal about supporting my son, Kyle. I make absolutely no apologies for doing so, either. Sure, I understand that not everyone agrees with gay rights, and I also understand that my willingness to shout from the rooftops how much I love my gay son may be offensive to some.
I am 100% okay with people having differing beliefs. That's cool. I get it. Not everyone agrees with how I choose to parent my gay son. They may not agree with the fact that I encourage self-expression within reason, and that I am not going to force him to fit some mold society says he should fit into.
Not everyone agrees with the fact that rather than being hush-hush about it, I will openly talk about it and support him in every way I can. The way I see it, yes, being vocal might make some people uncomfortable. That's unfortunate, and it is not my intention. I won't stop, though, because when I told Kyle I am his biggest cheerleader, I meant it. If I were to keep quiet and not raise hell when something happens to him, I wouldn't be keeping my promise to HIM, and it could lead to him being ashamed of himself.
Plus, it's going to take people being brave enough to be vocal to make real changes in the world. If I can help ANYONE, whether it's a gay kid or a parent who may not know what to do, all the negativity is worth it.
Yes, it hurts...Yes, I get angry...Yes, there are occasions that I wish I could just throat-punch people for the incredibly hurtful things that they say. I am only human, and my rage comes from a very sacred thing: A mother's unwavering love for her child.
I would be failing my son if I didn't do everything I can to make his existence a little bit easier. Suicide rates among LGBT kids are heartbreaking, and many of these happen because these poor kids are made to feel shame. My son will NOT be a statistic. I won't allow that to happen. He has all the love and support in the world from his family, and that will never, ever change.
Anyway, when I learned that we would be attending the upcoming Taylor Swift concert in Cleveland, I thought it would be a cool idea to see if I could make enough noise on social media to get a tweet from her. Kyle absolutely adores her, and this will be his first concert. Sure, it's a long-shot, but I love my kid enough to try, especially considering all of the bullying and hate he has had to endure.
Well, no word from Taylor, and I don't really expect one. She's a busy lady, and I know that my tweets get buried in millions of others from countless adoring fans.
While Taylor has not spoken, many of YOU have. I have to say, I am blown away by the overwhelming support for my son. I have gotten so many kind words, and have even been defended when haters decide to throw hate our way. I truly appreciate this, and it really makes my heart happy.
Sadly, I have also encountered some awful, mean-spirited people. I would be lying if I said I haven't been in tears over the past couple of days. So, I have decided to write a post addressing the things no one should EVER say to the parent of a gay child. Like, EVER. Disagreeing is one thing, but when those feelings turn into hurtful words and actions, it's a problem. A poison in our society that will not change until peoples' hearts change.
5 things to NEVER say to the parent of a gay child:
5. It's just a phase. He/she will outgrow it and be "normal" eventually.
No, it's not a phase. To imply such is insulting, not just to the parents of a gay teen, but to the child, too. Teenage years are confusing enough thanks to all the glorious hormones, etc. If a child is brave enough to "come out", chances are, they are 100% sure of their orientation. It takes a TON of courage to do this. Many kids are flat out disowned by their families for being gay. If a child says they are gay, by golly, they mean it. Their bravery should not be minimized by saying it's temporary, or that they will outrow it. Nor should it be implied that a gay teen is "abnormal" in any way. Being gay is completely normal. It's our normal. My child's normal. It is who he is. Which leads me to the next one.....
4. Why would you let him/her choose to be gay?
It is not a choice. I repeat, IT IS NOT A CHOICE. I have known my son was gay LONG before he did. This was pretty obvious from the time he was a very small child....No, he didn't even know what sex was....No small child should....But it was apparent when he had absolutely no interest in "boy stuff" like action figures, violent video games, or sports. Instead, he wanted to dance, create art, and act. He was very colorful from a very early age, and it was pretty clear he was gay to everyone who knew him. So while some may truly believe that this is something that is a conscious decision, I have to respectfully disagree there. My son, and other kids like him, did not choose this. In fact, my son has told me that if it were actually a choice, he never would have chosen something that would cause him to be hated and bullied, simply for existing. He was born this way, and we love him unconditionally for who he is....Who he has always been.
3. Do you worry that he will molest your youngest son? (Or any other children)
Yes, this is something I have actually been asked, more than once. No, I do not fear that my son will become a pedophile simply because he is gay. This is an absurd thing to say on so many different levels. For one, most gay people are not pedophiles, just like most straight people are not pedophiles. Pedophilia is the attraction to children. This is something that is horrifying, but it is no more common among gays than it is among heterosexuals. In fact, most people I know that were abused as children were abused by someone of the OPPOSITE sex. My son is not into little kids and never will be. He much prefers grown men, such as Adam Lambert or Channing Tatum. Gay does not equal evil pervert who victimizes innocent children. Period.
2. You need to go to Jesus and pray the gay away.God doesn't approve!
Okay. Again, this is wrong on SO many levels. SO MANY LEVELS. For one, the God I know loves ALL of his children, and doesn't make mistakes. (And YES, we DO believe in God here.) So if God created each of us in His image, that would include those of us who are gay.
Not to mention, Jesus never once uttered a word about homosexuality. Not once. Don't believe me? Well, grab your Bible and go check it out. Homosexuality IS mentioned in the book of Leviticus, which is part of the Old Testament. Pre-Jesus, folks. While the book of Leviticus frowns on homosexuality, it also forbids eating bacon or shellfish, wearing jeans with a rayon top AKA mixing fabrics, adorning oneself with gold, or even getting a tattoo. So basically, if a person is screaming about the horrible gays, they need to take off their wedding ring, have their tattoos removed, and put down their bacon cheeseburger. Oh, and of course, every element of their wardrobe must be made from the same fabric or else God will become very, very angry. Why? Because the book of Leviticus says so.
Another thing to take into account is that while the Bible is a valuable teaching tool, it cannot be taken too literally. For one, it was not written by God. It was written by several different men over the course of hundreds of years. That's right....MEN....And man, according to the scriptures, is flawed. It is very hard for me to believe that each author's personal biases and opinions were not included in the texts.
Also, it was written in VERY different times when there wasn't as much understanding about the world, or people, in general. People had very different views throughout history, and we live in a time where we simply know better. We don't burn witches at the stake anymore. We don't put cocaine in our cough syrup anymore. We don't think the world is flat anymore. We don't send everyone off to institutions to rot because they are mentally ill. These views are uneducated and antiquated. We know better about so many things....Shouldn't our views on gays be updated, too?
Think about it. Do you REALLY think God approves of the way so-called Christians treat gays? I don't. In fact, I wouldn't consider hateful people who use God as an excuse to hate to be real Christians. There is nothing Christ-like about hate. There just isn't.
1. Teach your son that he should be proud of being male from birth.
Yes, someone actually had the audacity to say exactly this very recently. I have a HUGE problem with this statement.
First, my son is GAY, not TRANSGENDERED. They are two very different things. Not even in the same stratosphere as one another. Not even remotely.
Transgendered people don't identify with the gender they were assigned at birth. They may have one set of "plumbing", but in their heart and soul, they feel like they should have been born the opposite gender. Imagine being stuck in a body that felt foreign to you, and there's nothing you can do about it. Imagine how painful that must be on a daily basis. That is what transgendered people go through every day of their lives. It is heartbreaking in itself, but completely irrelevant to my home and our situation.
Gay people are just....well....Gay. My son may like experimenting with his hair or even wearing eyeliner on the rare occasion, but that does not mean he has any desire to be female. He doesn't. He's quite happy being male, and doesn't have any wishes to change that. Implying that his "gayness" means he's trying to be something he's not is offensive, mean, and wrong.
Saying that my child should be taught to be "proud to be male from birth" is like saying that everyone should be a conformist and individuality should be frowned upon. No, not everyone wants to wear flannel shirts, sports jerseys, and rock a crew cut. Sorry. It's just the truth. We encourage Kyle to express himself and be comfortable in his own skin. If that means he wants blue hair, pink hair, or even perfectly winged eyeliner, so be it. More power to him. He is comfortable enough with himself to be out and proud, and because of that, he is my hero.
So, there you have it. 5 things you should never, ever say to the parent of a gay child. Like I said, I have no problem with different beliefs. Everyone is entitled to believe whatever they would like. What I DO have a problem with is when those beliefs turn into hateful, discriminatory words or actions. Sometimes it's more important to be kind than to be right. Everyone, my child included, deserves kindness and respect.
BE the change you want to see in the world. That's exactly what I intend to keep trying to do.
Today, my heart was broken. I was sitting in my family room, spending time with my kids and checking my e-mails. The windows were open since it's an absolutely gorgeous day here in my little NE Ohio city, and I happened to notice 3 teenage boys walking down an alley that separates my yard from the neighbor's property. People often use this as a shortcut while driving, but I don't usually see people on foot here. It's a very quiet area.
I asked my teenage son if he knew the boys. He looked out the window and confirmed that he did. He goes to school with them, but never really interacts with them. I just shrugged and went about my business.
Kyle, however, continued to watch, and then said "MOM....They're touching Dan's truck!"
I headed over to the French doors that lead to our deck, and sure enough, these 3 boys were by our truck, doing something...I couldn't tell what from that distance. I COULD hear what they were saying, though, since the windows were open, and I heard the word "Faggot" at least 3 times. As well as plenty of laughter. That was ALL I needed to hear, so I grabbed my phone and headed outside as they ran down the alley.
This is what I found. They egged our vehicle, in broad daylight, simply because they knew this was Kyle's house, and they don't like him because he's gay.
One egg was laying on the hood of our truck, and another on the ground right next to it. That means that these kids had a plan, and executed it. I am fairly certain they don't just walk around with eggs in their pockets. They would have had to either go home or to the store, get eggs, and then come to my house. This was a completely intentional act of hate.
I yelled after the kids, letting them know I caught them in the act. I took a photo as they walked down the street, as well as pictures of our truck. Unfortunately, the photo of the kids was from far away, and is pretty useless. I will not post that here because they are minors.
Then I wrote this note and taped it to the truck, just in case they wandered past my home again I wanted them to KNOW they had been seen, and that we know who they are. .
Luckily for the boys, I am a law abiding citizen and know I couldn't just chase them down and unleash a can of whoop-ass on them. When you mess with my CHILD, my Mama Bear Claws come out. I am absolutely and completely furious, and sad that this even happened in 2015.
I did choose to post these photos in local Facebook groups. (Not the photos of the kids, the photos of the truck and eggs.) My community is incredibly tight-knit, and people look out for one another. Seriously, I could never call another place home.
I have to be honest. I was a little worried about getting more homophobia there. After all, we haven't lived here very long, and my social anxiety makes it hard for me to meet new people and make new friends. I didn't know if anyone would even care what had happened, let alone help to ID these kids so we could report it. (I knew 2 first names and no last names.)
What I encountered was absolutely touching and amazing. While I was worrying about receiving hateful comments, SO many people in my city voiced their support. There were tons of kind words for me, as well as for Kyle. Tons of people that I don't even know were coming forth with kindness, and even offered to help in any way they could. I was absolutely amazed, and I am incredibly grateful to call this small town my home.
Anyway, after being 100% certain we could ID 2 out of 3 boys, I called the school and left a message, and I called my husband, who promptly came home from work. When Dan got home, we called our local police department.
An officer was dispatched, and saw the damage to our vehicle. We talked to him and gave all the info we could, and he assured us that this would not be taken lightly, and that this isn't just a slap on the wrist. The most likely charges will be Criminal Mischief and Menacing, both misdemeanors. The most likely result? Well, that is yet to be determined. Apparently the Resource Officer at the high school is going to be contacted, and if any of the boys are known for being a disciplinary problem, it could lead to harsher penalties.
Now don't get me wrong here. I know that kids can be kids, and that teenagers often make bad decisions. I get that. I just happened to be the Teen from Hell, so I know all too well the trouble that kids can wind up in.
I don't want to ruin these kids' lives. I want them to have bright futures, but learn from their mistake. They came to MY home. They egged MY vehicle. All because they have a problem with the fact that Kyle is gay. This is completely and totally unacceptable, in my opinion, and if we chose to ignore it, it wouldn't fix the root of the problem: Intolerance and hate. If no one speaks out, the world, and our hearts, will never change. So, once again, I am choosing to speak. And, we WILL be pressing charges, and these boys WILL be held accountable for their actions.
I have faith that the police will take care of this promptly. I also have faith that these boys' parents will address the problem as well.
The fact is, this simply should not have happened. My child doesn't deserve to be a target simply because he is comfortable in his own skin. He deserves to feel safe and be accepted for the kind and caring person he is. The fact that he's gay is truly no one's business, and shouldn't matter the slightest bit.
Being the mom of a gay kid can be tough. Not because my son is gay, of course. That is 100% fine with me, and I wouldn't change him if I could. Being Kyle's mom is hard because I know that no matter how hard I try, I will never be able to protect him from everything. There is so much ignorance and bigotry in the world, and sadly, we are a target. I understand that we will encounter these things on occasion.
But no matter how prepared I think I am, I just can't seem to get used to random acts of hate.