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This is what I heard someone call my little boy today. I didn’t ignore it. I asked. I glared. What did you say? The kid muttered under his breath. Nothing. We walked to the car and he was quiet. He’s a boy who takes everything into himself. When he shares, it’s a gift. It has a meaning beyond what it is.

I looked at him, my beautiful nine-year-old boy who grew in my belly as I spent endless hours working with men and women dying of AIDS in Los Angeles. The baby that I jostled and jiggled when I was nine months pregnant, shaking my fat little ass at the Dance-a-thon. All the beautiful queens circled around me under the disco ball and rubbed my belly just like the old Russian women at the K-Mart by the Farmer’s Market. I remember looking at them, these glittering beautiful people smiling and wishing me luck. They are celebrating you, I said to my unborn child. They are celebrating life. It was one of the few nights that I didn’t have to face the practical realities of the other side of the coin, the side where I watched my friends wasting away to nothing.

When I had my baby shower, I was living with a friend who everyone thought was my gay lover. I never cared what anyone thought. We were like sisters. She was a nurse who worked with HIV/AIDS patients. I was a lawyer who didn’t like seeing decent people being bullied and treated like shit. We were comrades in arms. People were suffering so much, being locked out of their apartments, being fired from jobs, being dropped from their insurance, being ignored by their own families. So very few people really cared. It still makes me want to howl with the pain of it all when I remember how horrible it was, how tremendously unfair, how incredibly fucking cruel people could be. My shower was attended by four beautiful fat dykes, nine fabulously gay men, a Liberian woman whose asylum case I'd won that year, and a straight couple that I’d kept in touch with after law school. That next week, my mom came and marched at Pride. We laughed about whether I was going to deliver my baby on the parade route. It was a golden day. It shook me more than usual to hear a nondescript man hiss “faggots” as we walked back to the car with a couple of friends.

When he was a little boy, he would tell me he was going to be a girl. I told him he could be whatever he wanted. I didn’t think anything about it. Kids don’t have much of a concept of gender at two. It's like my friend's daughter who told him she was going to grow "big hairy breasts just like Daddy." A few years later, he was playing the game of Life with his brother and declared that he was going to marry a boy. He was six. His four-year-old brother insisted that he couldn’t marry a boy. He has to marry a girl, doesn’t he, Mom? I told them that each of them could marry a boy or a girl. It doesn’t matter as long as you are happy and a good person. He happily zoomed along in his car with two little plastic blue guys in the front seat. That was the same year that he liked to wear my lip gloss. I didn’t care. I’d hand it over any time he asked for it. There were other small but similar things every once in a while, all noted but not given much weight or concern.

So here was my golden boy, born at a time in my life when I was acutely aware of the powers of both love and hatred, chewing his nails in the backseat, trying not to cry. He looked up at me with his giant green eyes. I could tell he was phrasing his question very carefully, as he is such a precise little boy. "I’m not a fag if I don’t want to have a girlfriend, am I?" He was so quiet and serious. I pulled over and turned around to face him.

I wanted to tell him about the time into which he was born, how so many people loved him, how so many people saw him as the sign of a good and hopeful future they might not live to see. I wanted to tell him how the woman who came into my office after he was born wept with him in her arms and kissed him all over. I didn’t take him from her until he was sleeping and her tears had been replaced with a soft smile. “No one has ever let me touch a baby since I was diagnosed,” she told me in Spanish, “He’s so beautiful. Thank you.”

There are so many stories I will have for him, when he is ready to hear them. I looked at him and said, “You are not a fag, period. It doesn’t matter if you like girls, or if you like boys. It doesn’t matter at all. And you are not a fag no matter what. It’s a hateful word that stupid people use to hurt each other.”

That’s all I could say today. I didn't know what else to say. Is my son gay? I don’t know. I don’t care. He’ll figure it out. Either way, when he’s old enough to understand, he’ll hear the stories of the year he was born. He’ll know he’s special, and he’ll understand why the word “fag” will never touch him again.


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Feb. 5th, 2005 02:13 am (UTC)
This is so beautiful.

Please consider printing this up and handing it to him.

Yeah, it might not matter or he might pretend it doesn't. But it might matter a lot.
Feb. 5th, 2005 02:19 am (UTC)
I'll think about that. I'm not sure he's quite old enough to get what I want to say yet, but you might be right.
(no subject) - msminlr - Feb. 6th, 2005 01:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - the_lady_elanor - Feb. 6th, 2005 02:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tinywarrior - Feb. 6th, 2005 04:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - the_lady_elanor - Feb. 6th, 2005 04:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - viherminttu - Feb. 6th, 2005 04:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - heroinefilms - Feb. 6th, 2005 04:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - alchemi - Feb. 6th, 2005 07:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tinywarrior - Feb. 6th, 2005 07:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - alchemi - Feb. 6th, 2005 07:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
Your Feb-04-2005 entry: Thank you! - da_rosas - Jun. 29th, 2005 03:55 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - quitecleanteeth - Apr. 21st, 2010 12:03 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - keranwing - Feb. 7th, 2005 04:06 am (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 5th, 2005 02:16 am (UTC)
This is a phenomenal and important piece of writing, that if there was a way for you to feel comfortable sharing it with a larger audience, I would encourage you to do.
Feb. 5th, 2005 02:18 am (UTC)
I'm unlocking it. Thanks.
Good - adriang - Feb. 5th, 2005 04:03 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - paradigm_palace - Feb. 5th, 2005 10:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - passageway - Feb. 6th, 2005 01:39 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nematoddity - Feb. 6th, 2005 10:48 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sesaworuban - Feb. 6th, 2005 11:47 am (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - willdawg_obsess - Feb. 6th, 2005 05:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - soleta_nf - Feb. 6th, 2005 07:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
Yes. Thanks. - cider - Feb. 6th, 2005 07:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Yes. Thanks. - girlinthemoon - Feb. 6th, 2005 07:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
Wow - snaxxx - Feb. 7th, 2005 01:32 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - babyblu86 - Feb. 9th, 2005 01:08 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - babyblu86 - Feb. 9th, 2005 01:13 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tinywarrior - Feb. 6th, 2005 04:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rm - Feb. 6th, 2005 04:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tinywarrior - Feb. 6th, 2005 04:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rm - Feb. 6th, 2005 04:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
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Feb. 5th, 2005 02:16 am (UTC)
>It doesn’t matter if you like girls, or if you like boys. It doesn’t matter at all... It’s a hateful word that stupid people use to hurt each other.

excellent answer. i'm sure you're right, that he'll figure out who he is.

what a moving post.
Feb. 9th, 2005 10:16 pm (UTC)
indeed. very good answer. i'll keep that in mind next time i'm around some mean-spirited children...or on my college campus.
Feb. 5th, 2005 02:19 am (UTC)
There are so many stories I will have for him, when he is ready to hear them. I looked at him and said, “You are not a fag, period. It doesn’t matter if you like girls, or if you like boys. It doesn’t matter at all. And you are not a fag no matter what. It’s a hateful word that stupid people use to hurt each other.”

-- what a challenging situation. i couldn't have thought of a better answer. i think you really hit the nail on the head, there. one's orientation (or future orientation) doesn't matter. what matters between human beings is mutual respect.
Feb. 5th, 2005 02:20 am (UTC)
i just heard on NPR that the mayor of NYC had just declared gay marriage legal in the City. the city still has 30 days to object, but still. this is a tremendously important breakthrough in tolerance, for those of us on the East Coast. both M. and i are overfilled with joy.
Re: ps - merryjest - Feb. 10th, 2005 05:56 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tamperevident - Feb. 5th, 2005 02:40 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - cjmjake - Feb. 6th, 2005 08:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
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Feb. 5th, 2005 02:25 am (UTC)
Here via rm and I just want to thank you for this. It is, quite simply, the most uplifting and beautiful piece of writing that I think I've ever seen on LJ.
Feb. 9th, 2005 06:05 am (UTC)
seconded. A really great piece. Thanks for sharing it with the community.
Feb. 5th, 2005 02:27 am (UTC)
This really hit home. Thank you for being such a good mother.
Feb. 8th, 2005 04:42 am (UTC)
well put. i second that.
(no subject) - quuf - Feb. 8th, 2005 05:18 am (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 5th, 2005 02:37 am (UTC)
excellent post. words can traumatize a kid, it's a good thing that you're good with them!
Feb. 5th, 2005 02:43 am (UTC)
At a time when so many people are hateful (still!) this is a beautiful post.

If more mothers were like you, the world would be a much more beautiful place.
Feb. 6th, 2005 10:50 pm (UTC)
deffinately agreed.
(no subject) - mellytone - Feb. 8th, 2005 03:36 am (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 5th, 2005 02:43 am (UTC)
I can't stop crying. thank you.
Feb. 5th, 2005 02:49 am (UTC)
It's great to know that mothers like you exist.
Feb. 8th, 2005 08:31 pm (UTC)
I agree.
Feb. 5th, 2005 02:56 am (UTC)
When I was a little girl, long before I knew my own orientation, I distinctly remember being thankful I was a girl because that way I didn't have to spend every hour of every day proving I wasn't gay like boys seemed to have to do. Plus ca change, apparently. :-(

You're a great mom and for what it's worth, a lot of us who don't know your son are rooting for him very hard.
Feb. 5th, 2005 03:01 am (UTC)
This made me cry, a lot. You are amazing and I know your son will be amazing as well. Thank you.
Feb. 8th, 2005 04:46 am (UTC)
Tempted to just copy and paste everything that's been said here, in support and praise. Knowing that people like you exist in the US really helps make up for appalling things (Dubya, etc) for us Aussies.

Found this link through darknightjess. Am humbled and grateful.
Feb. 5th, 2005 03:14 am (UTC)
if there were more mothers like you, the world would be forever and always a beautiful place.

Feb. 7th, 2005 04:52 pm (UTC)
go you! a friend sent me the link to this post. your son is lucky to have you for a mother.
Feb. 5th, 2005 03:18 am (UTC)
wow, I wish you were my mom. :) (or dad, *sigh*) this is seriously eye opening for me.
Feb. 5th, 2005 03:46 am (UTC)
Thank you.
THIS has to be one of the best things I have read in declaring to the world what it is to be equal, to have pride. To be human. To be alive.
Feb. 6th, 2005 02:32 pm (UTC)
Re: Thank you.
Yea, I second that.

Thanks for unlocking it
Feb. 5th, 2005 04:16 am (UTC)
Beautiful writing! Not only will it be a precious piece to your son, but I bet there's a lot of other people out there that would be deeply touched by it.

You're one awsome mom!
Feb. 5th, 2005 04:21 am (UTC)
this was so beautiful and lovely to read. i hope that you do decided to share it with your son when he is ready to hear/read it. you are such a beautiful and loving mother and your sons are lucky to have you!
Feb. 5th, 2005 04:21 am (UTC)
Wow. Amazing story, amazingly written. Powerful.

Feb. 5th, 2005 04:31 am (UTC)
Damn. That was intense and terrific and well-written and a beautiful story.
Feb. 5th, 2005 04:36 am (UTC)

i feel honored to be able to read something like this.
Feb. 5th, 2005 04:40 am (UTC)
He can't go wrong with a mom like you. :)
Feb. 5th, 2005 04:44 am (UTC)
boy am I glad you found me, or I would've missed that wonderful entry. your son is lucky to have such an awesome mom.
Feb. 5th, 2005 04:47 am (UTC)
Directed here by tearsinger.
I wish I had better words to say thank you for sharing this piece of your life with us, and thank you for being the kind of mother this boy will always love and be proud of.
This is beautiful.
Feb. 16th, 2005 11:38 pm (UTC)
i'm not very eloquent with words so all i can say is dito
Feb. 5th, 2005 04:50 am (UTC)
I've never met you and I love you anyway. I really do.
Feb. 5th, 2005 10:51 pm (UTC)
What zie said.
(no subject) - bellaanne - Feb. 7th, 2005 04:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nzraya - Feb. 8th, 2005 06:03 am (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 5th, 2005 05:01 am (UTC)
it's never too soon to start kung fu
Feb. 9th, 2005 12:36 pm (UTC)
Or some other martial art.

If you're at all different, basic self defence skills can mean the difference between coming home injured, or not at all.

Also, if you know you can defend yourself, you can shrug off all the petty attacks and niggles from the other boys.

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