Open letter to parents: Your kid might be gay

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I don’t generally (and won’t make a habit of it on this blog) repost things in their entirety, but I’m going to do it now. Because this is important. And I don’t want you missing it because you couldn’t be bothered to open another link.

This comes from Amelia, originally posted on Huffington Post:

Open Letter to Parents: Your Child Might Be Gay

Your child might be gay.

I’m not talking about your neighbor’s kid or your cousin’s kid, and I’m not even talking about my kid (although they are certainly included). I’m talking about your kid. Your kid might be gay.

You may want to protest:

“My son doesn’t like show tunes. He likes football and Legos.”

“My daughter doesn’t play softball. She loves princess dresses and pink.”

“My son has a girlfriend.”

“My daughter has a boyfriend.”

“My child is too young to think about those things.”

Well, I am here to tell you that none of those things matter.

Sure, some gay people might fit into certain stereotypes, but not all… and probably not even the majority. Lots of gay boys like playing in the mud with sticks and listening to rock ‘n’ roll. Lots of lesbian girls like ballet dancing and painting their fingernails. None of those things define anyone’s sexuality.

Even if your child is a toddler, his or her sexual orientation may already be firmly in place… not that they are thinking about it yet.

And sure, your son or daughter might have the correct heterosexual-designated partner right now, but that doesn’t mean they always will.

How do I know your kid might be gay? Your child is a human being. Depending on what research you have in front of you, you’ll find that between 3 and 10 percent of human beings happen to be gay, lesbian, or bisexual. And there is no way to know for sure, and there is definitely no way to change it.

So why am I telling you all this? Because I think it is high time for all of us parents to start thinking about what we say.

A man wears pink, so we call him a “sissy.” A woman is powerful and strong, so she’s called a “dyke.” An athlete gets hurt, and we say he needs to “walk it off and stop being such a fag.” An attractive woman is at the park with her girlfriend, and we comment, “All she needs is a real man.”

We need to think about what we say even when we call our son’s female friend his “girlfriend,” or when we call our daughter’s male friend her “boyfriend.”

Some of these things are downright offensive and violent. The last pair could be said in all innocence. But all of them send the same message to a gay child: there is something wrong with you. And that’s a message gay children (and adults) hear loud and clear.

I would like to think that some people don’t notice homophobic hate speech when it flies out of their mouths, or at least they don’t think it matters. Well, it is there, and it does.

So, the next time something lame happens and the words “that’s so gay” are about to come out of your mouth, take a second to think. Look at your child and think. Do you want your kid to think, indeed know, that there is something wrong with them? After all, they heard it straight from Mom and Dad.

The idea of having a gay child scares a lot of parents. They want their kids to be happy. They want them to be healthy. They want them to grow into successful adults, who go on to create wonderful families of their own.

Being gay doesn’t take any of those things off the table. Heck, if we all work hard enough against hate in this country, they could even legally give you the white wedding you have always dreamed of.

All parents have dreams for their children. Heck, I have a ton. But we can’t let our dreams for them become more important than who they are and what they want for themselves. Our children aren’t little photocopies of us. They are their own unique people who have a path all their own.

So stop, think, and shut your mouth. And then the next time you are out and about, and another adult calls someone a “faggot,” open it. The person you are defending could be your own kid. Make certain your child knows being gay isn’t bad, and maybe, just maybe, they won’t feel the need to hide if they are. And then they’ll have a better chance of growing up into that happy, healthy adult you dream they will become.

I was lucky.

When I came out, both my parents loved and supported me – simply because I was their child. I don’t know if either one of them truly understood at the time (and now) what that meant to me.

My mom, who is an office manager at a psychiatric practice, tells me that when I called from 2,000 miles away in North Dakota (where I was stationed at the time) and told her, she went straight to her boss’ office to check out all the books she could on what being a lesbian meant. And later, during the time she spent four days at the Virginia Women’s Music Festival with me and about 450 other lesbians, she told me “Katie, I get it, being a lesbian isn’t about sex, it’s about love.” Yeah, mom, it is. Love between partners, but also love between family members who don’t care who loves whom or even why it’s a big deal. My mom still doesn’t completely understand why women all that weekend thought it was so awesome that she was there with me. Four years later, people still ask about her.

My dad never really mentioned it, but when I called him crying because I had just called the police on my partner at the time, he offered to come up to North Dakota from Ohio to be with me. And when I was crying (again) when I told him I was outing myself to the Air Force and was going to be discharged under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, he hugged me, told me he had no idea what I was going through but that it must be tough living a double life I knew everything was going to be alright.

The point is, when I came out, I never stopped being their child and they never stopped loving me.

But I was lucky.

So pay attention, to both what you say and what others around you say. Standing by as a silent witness to homophobic comments is no better than if you make them yourself. It’s awkward to call someone out. I get it. I’m guilty of letting people slide and I’m a lesbian. Sometimes it’s just easier.

But honest to God, if we want to create a better world for all children, because straight children benefit from diversity as much as gay children and adults benefit from not hearing oppressive language, we’ve got to pay attention – and speak up when necessary.

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