Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Mom, are you gay?

Remember the days when we used the word 'gay' we meant happy? My friend Gay does!

But when my daughter asked, "What is gay", I had to think for a minute about the answer. My daughter tends to ask me these types of profound questions when we are in the car, so thankfully, I could buy a little time while I 'concentrated' on driving.

Having gotten over my urge to jump right in, I asked her what she thought it meant.
She replied when two women love each other like they were married. Pretty smart, I thought.

"Can boys be gay," she asked? That was an easy one-I just repeated her answer.

Things got a bit trickier quickly. She wanted to know if she was gay because she like the girls in her class (she likes the boys, too but she seemed to have forgotten that). to explain that one. We talked about what married people share-homes, family-building, committment and love and why that was different than having friends whom you love in a different way. Then I added that if she is gay then as she gets older she will have feelings-like marriage-to other girls.

I was really congratulating myself for some of these answers. It seemed to me that I was answering the questions she was asking, not giving her more information than she wanted and using her own knowledge as a jumping off point. Not to mention the lack of emotion in the discussion-it was clearly a 'different strokes, for differnt folks' kind of conversation.

Until we got to her final question-"Mom, are you gay"? I nearly drove off the side of the road when she asked that question and really had to stop myself from shouting, "NO I AM NOT GAY". Thankfully, I managed to answer her calmly with a simple 'no, I am not".

As I thought about this it started to bother me. I have many, many gay friends in my life-and I am glad that I do. It never has mattered to me who they slept with. I am supportive of their lifestyles and choices and don't think twice about what being gay might actually mean to them. How shallow is that?

And what about my horror about being pegged as gay? What is that about? I have to admit that I am not too thrilled with my reaction, but I am pleased that we were able to have a calm conversation that presented my daughter with the facts-as I know them to be-and that I was able to reign in my emotional response to her final question.

I truly believe that being gay is totally ok. Now I know that for whatever reason it is only ok for other people. That realization is definately the stuff that bias is made of and is MUCH harder to keep from passing on to our kids because it can be hidden deep within ourselves.

So remember, when your kids ask about something as innocent as 'what is gay' take a deep breathe and see how you feel-really feel-and act accordingly. At that point the choice is yours.

With Respect:

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