My eight year old son asked me that question last month in front of my mom. Kuddos to my mom for keeping silent, even though she froze, and looked at me as if to say, "Holy crap, am I glad I am not in YOUR shoes right now!" My mom, just like me and the hubs, does not care one way or the other what B's sexual orientation is. I just think she, like me, felt that was a loaded question from any 8 yr old, but especially from mine.
You see, I am a firm believer that your sexual orientation is not a choice, not nurture, but you are born that way; it's nature. And with the preferences and personality B has exhibited from the beginning, it would not surprise me if he was gay. However, it also would not surprise me if he is not. I can't wait to find out who he will grow up to be.
B has a very important couple in his life (Person 1 and Person 2) that he loves very much. He talks about them all the time; he wants to do everything just as well as they do and always wants to know when he can see them again. They happen to be a legally married homosexual couple. I'm proud of the way we have raised B. To him, it is a given that families come in all combos - man and woman; man and man; woman and woman; single; widowed; divorced; parent; childless. We've never talked to him about growing up and having a "wife"; we always use the terms "spouse" and "partner" and he likes to talk being a daddy someday. He has even asked us if "gender marriages" (his term for same-sex couples) can have babies. We have been open with him that they can be, and many are, parents, and the options for either adopting or getting donations and help from a member of the opposite sex in order to have their own biological children.
However, when he asked this question of me, I did not only think to myself, "Is he asking for help sorting out his inner feelings?" What also went through my mind was, "Did someone use this word around him and he is asking what it means? Or...did someone, perhaps, CALL HIM this name and he is asking me what it means and if it's true?" So, I answered his question with questions.
Me: Did someone call you "gay"?
Me: Did someone call someone else gay while around you?
Me: Do you know what "gay" means?
I did not push him further to find out why he was asking nor from where he heard it. He could have heard it from a conversation between the hubs and me, for all I know. But I did not want to make him feel like he was being interrogated for being curious and, thus, make him think twice before bringing his questions to his parents next time.
I said, "Being gay means that you love someone who is the same gender as you. (Person 1 and Person 2) are the same gender so they are a homosexual couple and daddy and I are the opposite gender so we are a heterosexual couple. Daddy and I are not gay or homosexual and (Person 1 and Person 2) are gay or homosexual." I paused to let that sink in, then I continued with, "B, I can't tell you if you are gay or not. Only you can decide that for yourself." "That's right," my mom interjected. "Do you understand what I've said?" "Yes," he said, with a big smile. "Do you have any other questions about this or anything else?" "Nope," he said.
My parents raised two kids who graduated from high school without smoking, drinking, doing drugs, having pre-marital sex, sneaking out of the house nor lying to them. My parents knew our friends, knew where were going, what we were doing and created an environment where we could ask them anything or talk to them about anything while still maintaining the boundaries of parent/child instead of trying to be our best friends. Our family was the exception, not the rule, in the schools I went to. From the moment I became a parent, I agonized over how they did it and worried that I would not be able to. But looking at the face of my son at the end of that conversation, as well as looking at the face of my mom, I know we're going to be OK. I can do what she did; in fact, I just did.
- I am a very lucky woman with a husband and son who are smart, witty and entertaining. Our son, B, attended public school for two years, and then we embarked on a new adventure in the Fall of 2010 - homeschooling. We don't have all the answers, but we know B and this has been the best thing for him. I blog to preserve our stories and our memories, share recipes, vent and ramble on about our crazy, yet blessed, life. Would you care to follow along?