Born This Way

I sometimes wonder if my son is gay.

Or British. The difference between the two can be subtle.

He’s ridiculously fashionable (everything looks good on him), he has excellent muscle tone in his upper body, and he’s remarkably fastidious for someone who eats yogurt with his hands. Plus he’s functionally vegetarian, which, if you grew up in Iowa like I did, is the dietary equivalent of a feather boa.

He also pronounces the word ‘teapot’ like “tee-pote” instead of “tee-paht.” But that may be more a function of the British cartoons we watch on youtube than any nascent sexual preference. Also, he’s two.

And it’s not like I can really do anything about it. If he’s gay (or British) he’ll be gay (or British) whether I like it or not. Which I will. Like it, I mean. I’ll like whatever he is because he’s him. I’ll gladly provide Lady Gaga CD’s or crumpets or both as occasion demands.

I can’t help but think about it, though. The curse of the parent is to dwell forever in the future. To wonder at and fear and celebrate all that could possibly befall this wonderful creature who just pooped on your arm.

I think about it, I wonder what it would mean for him.

The world’s a scary enough place without large groups of people convinced that your existence is an affront to whatever god’s taking the calls. Things are changing, mostly for the better, but I still cringe to think of my precious, beloved child exposed to such reasonless fear and hatred.

If he’s gay, there will be parts of the world unsafe for him. Places in this country, in my home state where life would be miserable at best, and a death sentence at worst.

As a straight white man this line of thought is utterly foreign to me. I know what it means to feel out of place, unwelcome, but never in danger. Not like that. With the exceptions of federal prisons or Afghanistan, I’m not likely to be raped or lynched wherever I go. And should I find myself in Mogadishu or Juarez and get myself killed, I can take solace in the fact that the media will probably notice. A fuss will be raised by somebody.

I look at what he might face, growing up gay. I look at the suffering I know he’ll have to go through. I know I can’t affect any of this, really. Nothing I do now will make him gay or straight or anything in between. But if I could, if I had the power to choose, to spare him that pain, would I choose for him not to be gay?

One of the hardest things as a parent is not to step in. Not to help. A kid won’t learn to stand up unless you let them fall. If they never get dirty, they’ll never develop a strong immune system.

So no. Hell no. I’d never choose for him not to be gay.

I think of the gay men and women I’ve known, the intelligence, the wit, the perspective the sophistication they possess. Their accomplishments so much the greater for what they’ve had to overcome. I think of the richness, the light they bring into this world through their simple being. I think of all I’ve learned from them, all I’ve shared with them.

If my kid’s gay, that’s f***ing awesome.

That would be utterly, dazzlingly, spectacularly fabulous.

And if he’s British, that would be lovely too.

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