Over the past few months my wife, HuffPost blogger Amelia, has been asked numerous times what I think about our 7-year-old son identifying as gay.
This is not something I thought I'd be writing so soon (OK, honestly, I never thought I would be writing a blog on an internationally known news website). When my wife and I were expecting our first child, we discussed what we would do if he or she were born with a disability or with a foot growing out of his or her head. Dealing with a child with a disability would be a life-changing event and something that we had to think about a lot. Possibly having a gay son or daughter wasn't like that. We didn't even have to discuss it, because it wouldn't be a problem. Although the head-foot would need to be dealt with immediately, we assumed we had 15 years or so before any of our kids said they were gay.
You know what they say about assuming: it makes all the asses come out in the comment sections of blogs -- people who don't know anything about my son other than the few guarded things my wife has written, and yet they seem to think they know so much. Let me say that most of the comments have been very supportive, and it's great to see the same people come to Ameila's defense whenever the occasional jerk butts into the conversation with some homophobic ideas. And many of jerk-butts (and some of the normal people, too) want to know what I think about this whole "gay thing."
The idea that I would be immediately disappointed/angry/suicidal that my son identifies as gay offends me, both as a father and simply as a human. It seems the further we all move along into the 21st century in terms of technology, the more some parts of society regress to the 1950s -- or the Victorian era, if we're being honest -- when it comes to ideas of social mores and attitudes on certain subjects: Ward Cleaver would have been angry if the Beaver had come out of the closet, so surely a father 60 years later would have the same reaction. I mean, come on, that's only common sense!
Excuse me while I roll my eyes for an hour or two.
I don't see how a father, or any parent, can look at their son, the one they've loved since before the child was even born, and upon hearing him say, "Dad, I'm gay," turn their back on him. The comments from men much older than me telling stories just like that break my heart. My wife always wants to adopt the teenage kids who write to her; I want to adopt the 60-year-old men who cry when they read that I tell my son how awesome he is. I don't care if they are as old as my father; they deserve love just as much as anyone else.
So many of the negative comments have been funny to Amelia and me because the people writing them obviously don't know our son. "Isn't your son's father going to miss teaching him sports?" "Isn't not having your child get married going to just break your heart?" "How does his father react to the prancing flamer that your son must be?"
First of all, as I write this, my shoulder is sore from throwing a football with him earlier. He loves sports (American Football is his favorite), and he can throw a really nice spiral, especially for a 7-year-old (although if he grows up to be my size, he'll either be a fine defensive end or the heaviest quarterback in the history of the NFL). And again, he's 7: as far as he's concerned, he's going to play all the positions -- at the same time. And if tomorrow he wants to start ballet classes, we will go to all his recitals and cheer him on just as loudly as if he were on the 50-yard line.
Getting married is up to him; single or married, he's still my son. If he and his maybe-some-day-far-far-in-the-future boyfriend want to tie the knot, they just need to tell his mother and me where to be, and we'll be there. Hopefully by then they can get married in whichever state they want, but if not, we'll just travel to one of the cool states and have a great time.
And the "flamer" comments... where to begin? Do effeminate men exist? Of course. Are all gay men effeminate? Of course not. But does it matter? Whether he grows up to be the manliest man in all mandom or the most effeminate guy to ever hit the drag-show circuit, he is my son. I want him to be loved, comfortable with himself and his friends, and happy. If that means he's the next RuPaul or Joe Montana (or just that nice guy in Accounts Receivable), he will know that being himself is important, no matter who he ends up growing into. And he will always know that his father loves him.
If these are the parents of future generations of gay and straight, and questioning, kids, then I've suddenly become aware that we'll be all right.