What If He Never Has To Step Foot In The Closet

It’s the time of the year again.  Yes, Open House season is upon us.  Time to head to your child’s school to see things made of construction paper, stand in line to talk to his/her teacher and fake-smile at other parents.  Come on kids, it’s time to look like a normal family!

At C.J.’s Open House the walls were covered in colorful masterpieces.  One lesson was based on The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle and the accompanying craft was a construction paper caterpillar made of circles in a color-specific pattern.  Here’s what the “perfect” caterpillar looked like.

And, here’s what C.J.’s caterpillar looked like.

He said he got “fus-ter-rated” because he wanted to make the caterpillar a girl AND a boy, but he was supposed to be going in a pattern.  He also decided to ditch the antennae in favor of long hair.  C.J.’s caterpillar was hard to miss.

I’m about to go way off topic, so stay with me.  There’s something I’ve been wondering for
several weeks now.  Do you think that it is possible for a homosexual person to not have to come out of the closet.  I don’t mean stay closeted for always and ever.  I mean never even enter the closet.  For instance, I’ve asked my oldest son if he thinks anybody in his class is cute.  I’m careful how I phrase it.  I don’t ask if he thinks any of the girls are cute.  I leave it open so that he can answer honestly.  Do you think an LGBT youth could grow up and never step foot in the closet (at least with immediate family), thus making the coming out process (with the immediate family) obsolete?  Can a family be so okay with homosexuality that, say, a fifth grade boy could tell his mom very comfortably that the boy in class in a Chargers jersey and still outgrowing his baby fat (or Baby Phat, who knows) is totes amazeballs?

Please let me know what you think.  I’ve asked around and gotten very surprising answers.

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RaisingMyRainbow.com is a blog about the adventures in raising a fabulous, gender creative son.
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84 Responses to What If He Never Has To Step Foot In The Closet

  1. clockworkchainsaw says:

    Well, when I asked my mum whaf she would say if I was bi, she answered with “I wouldnt he surprised if your brother was gay.”
    I mentioned in passing to my dad at different occasions that I was bi/gay, at least three times to be surehe got it since he hardly reacted.
    My brother just started asking for girlfriends instead of boyfriends. So, yeah I don’t know if you can count me as having come out. Or, in any case, my coming out was very very easy.

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  3. Kyleen says:

    I have been following your site, and finally feel compelled to answer. I wish I had found this years ago when I was president of my school’s GSA (and founder… and fighter…)

    But the answer is yes.
    I was never in the closet, I had a fluid sexuality, my mother and father were amazing.
    I’m a girl, I dated a guy, then I dated a girl.
    My father’s reaction “Same rule applies, she breaks her heart, I break her face.”
    My mother’s reaction was to talk about safe sex and being safe when being openly gay in certain parts of town.

    It was never a stressful thing for me to “come out”. It was as easy as walking home and saying “Janice and I are dating now.” No need to clarify it was a girl, that I had feelings for girls and boys. Just… an announcement of a new highschool sweetheart.

    It was how I was raised, and it is how I will raise my kids. No assumptions on what gender or sex they are attracted to. I think you are doing everything right. CJ is lucky to have you as a mom.

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  5. gregoryhazmat says:

    I think it very much is possible. Though it does depend on an incredible amount of factors. Is your question in reference to your sons only? Based on your openness, I would say yes, if either of your sons are gay, you will be right on the ball, shutting the closet doors before they get the chance to step inside.

    But on a societal level? That is a whole other kettle of fish. It isn’t just about being gay then, it’s about all of the other sexual orientations, and gender creative identities don’t assure a non-heteronormative sexual orientation. Before I write a long paragraph about it, basically, there are so many variations of GSM (Gender and Sexual Minorities) that it’s going to take a lot of societal awareness before no one ever has to be in the closet.

    For you, specifically? Your sons are very lucky to have such an open minded family to grow up in. But society right now is still extremely heteronormative, and even though I, as an asexual, have done my damndest to stay out of the closet, people continually put me into it just by virtue of them assuming I am something else (usually gay).

    Finally, I wanted to follow up with a huge thank you for everything that you’ve been doing for your sons. It’s people like you and family like yours that give me the strength to be optimistic about the future, and what a future society could look like. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to be a parent of a gender creative child, on top of just being a parent – which already seems a monstrous endeavour. I can’t express my gratitude in words for you doing all that you are.

  6. Trent Eady says:

    Yes! There are tons of gay boys who say things like “I came out of the closet when I came out of my mother’s womb”. But: categories like gay, homosexual, transgender, etc are pretty limiting. Just as limited as categories like boy and girl. The logic of gender and sexuality for an individual may not mesh with any kind of conceptual framework we’re familiar with.

  7. Krista says:

    I helped raise my not-godson (I functioned as a godmother, but not through any religion) in an environment like the one you’re talking about. We had interesting experiences with coming out with him, as he felt like he should come out to us when he was 15 … as straight. Because he lived in a very, very queer world, wherein a lot of choices were valid, he wanted to let us know where he stood.

    But, a year later, he introduced us to his first boyfriend with no in-between coming out. So I wonder how the whole concept of coming out works in his head? So I guess my answer is: sort of?

  8. Day says:

    Hi, CJ’s mom! I’ve read a few of your articles, and I can’t tell you how much happiness your posts bring me. Now, I’m a 23 year old gay guy, and while I’m on the “straight-acting, masculine” side of being gay, I used to be a little more feminine with certain things because I have a sister who is 10 years older than me. When she was living in the house, I used to idolize her, because I always wanted to be considered one of the grown ups – but I’m getting off-track. Anyways, I love what you’re doing here, and I’ve actually teared up through a few of your articles because I wish I had the opportunity that CJ has, so thank you for everything you’re doing with him and for every other person that reads your site.

    As for your question on if it’s possible for a gay boy to not be required to come out to his immediate family? I would have to say, no, I don’t believe it is possible, but I guess that also depends on how you define “coming out.” For me, the term “coming out” refers to having to state your sexuality to others. While you are doing perhaps the best thing for CJ by letting him be whoever he wants to be, and encouraging him to be whatever he wants, to the best of his ability, I think there will come a time when he will come up to you and state that he likes boys, girls, or perhaps even both. At the very least, I feel like a clarification will be necessary, even if only for his sake so that you can ask more specified questions about his life. In fact, I would encourage what you were doing with your older son, asking questions that will help you narrow down what your boys are interested in, giving you a closer relationship with them.

    My heart goes out to you and your family; thank you for these wonderfully heartwarming blog entries!

    – Day G

  9. Chris says:

    I look forward to the day when we say “I’m attracted to males/females” the same way we say “I just discovered I like [insert musician here]“. I didn’t “come out” about liking Elton John’s music — I realized that I liked it, and then told people. I hope it becomes like that!

  10. I am proof….I was never in the closet, but I do come from a very gay family… My mother and two of her sisters are lesbians. I started going to the gay pride parade around the age of 6. I just never questioned it. My aunts had girlfriends and I guess it always just seemed as normal to me as my aunt who had a boyfriend. My child mind never saw a difference or a reason for concern. I had my first girl crush at an early age, and again, felt totally normal and comfortable about it. It’s pretty amazing how open minded kids start out, and being raised with a family I knew would accept me no matter what made it a no brainer… I brought home girls and never thought twice about what my parents or anyone would say. I guess I didn’t announce it to my friends at school, but it seemed like they knew anyway and no one was shocked when I took a girl to prom.
    You’re on the right track. It’s harder for boys…. it really is, but I think your little rainbow will know that his parents love him absolutely and that goes a hell of a long way toward him accepting himself and letting the worlds bigotry hurt that much less. You’re awesome!

  11. Kyle says:

    I haven’t read any of the comments here yet, but I plan on it. First, a little bit about me. I’m a 26 year old gay guy. I’m one that you would “never know” unless I told you I guess. I am just me. I enjoy romantic movies and Glee and Gossip Girl! I love my drama and my music haha. Well, I come from a mostly accepting family. My mom says she figured I was gay once I hit 7. She isn’t really sure why she started to think that, but she did, and was, of course, correct. (Way too many commas in that last sentence! Sorry Mrs. Saur!) Growing up I never really felt or thought of myself as anything different. I knew I like guys, but never gave it any thought. That all changed when I was 12. I firmly believe my mother unintentionally pushed me in the closet.

    A little background: In the city I live in while I was growing up there was a string of suicides, sometimes as many as 6 in a year. My town only has 30,000 people in it. In notes, some of the people who committed suicide admitted they were gay but didn’t feel they would ever be accepted.

    When I was 12 my mom tried her best to make sure that I knew she loved me no matter what, even if I was gay. And that’s pretty much what she said, “Kyle, are you gay? Because if you are, Dad and I will still love you” Well meaning words from my mother, and I understand exactly what she was trying to do, now. At the time my mind started racing with thoughts of, “If? Oh my God, is being gay bad? I can’t like boys? Am I not supposed to like boys?” So, of course, not wanting to seem different now that a difference had been pointed out to me, I said of course I wasn’t and came home with a girlfriend the next day. I did a great job fooling myself, but never my mother lol.

    Anyway, I think it’s very possible for any child to grow up without ever entering the closet. Just by letting them know their feelings are natural and okay and they will respond to it I think. Once I did come out at 17 (my Mom’s response was “it’s about time you figured it out”) I never treated being gay as being any different than being straight, and everyone around me has reinforced that. So yes, I do believe it’s possible, and even more likely to occur in the future here as we all strive to make sure everyone knows that “different” isn’t “bad” and is just as good as “normal.”

  12. Mel Bowman says:

    I hope I am able to raise my son to never have to hide who and what he is.

  13. BillJ says:

    A parent’s responsibility is to see that their children safely become who they are.

    What else can one say?

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  15. Kevin HUIE says:

    I’m a 25 yo gay designer, and I don’t feel I’ve ever come out- but certainly feel I represent my sexuality. This story really caught me because I was recently going through my old crafts from when I was a kid – and it made me realize how much my parents got to witness about me naturally coming out, and how blindly expressive I was. My mother is always reminding me of how I dressed extravagantly and said things like your son did about the caterpillar – she is a conservative lady, a non-believer of homosexuality, but always wanted the best for me. There’s always a process of admittance – admittance, deeply, we all know where our attractions lie, just as much as we as people know our passions. If this has made any sense – sexuality is foremost a personal experience. If we are lucky enough to have the strength to care about ourselves and believe the life we dream of can be a possibility – that’s all life needs to thrive. I, along with many other readers, applaud your motherhood.

  16. Rachael says:

    I do think it’s possible, I think that we have to make it possible. I think generation by generation we get closer and closer to it being a possibility for all people, and I think with the way you’re raising your son his chances are higher for it.

  17. liesel says:

    i don’t think its really possible to not have some type of closet experience with family and/or friends. in regard to my experience, i have been repeatedly coming out to my parents for the past four years. they are finally beginning to get it. parents don’t see what they don’t want to see. especially with sexual orientation and gender nonconformity. i am so glad that this isn’t the reality for everyone and i wish that my parents had done for me what you have done for CJ. however it is only a matter of time before CJ is labeled as the “fag boy” just as i am labeled as the nasty, unclean, filthy, lesbo-dyke. middle school will be hell. HELL. however, by second grade he will most likely experience some degree of bullying due to his gender nonconformity. (did you hear about the second-grader who tried to commit suicide by jumping out of a two-story school window because the other kids called him fag?) i hope, for CJ’s sake, that he will somehow be spared.

  18. Laurie G. says:

    First of all, massive kudos for the way that you’re raising your son. You are a beacon of hope in a weary world, and you gladden my heart. :) As for your question: *absolutely*. I’ve met many people who never had to be in the closet among family, or close friends, or some other accepting group. It’s totally possible.

    It leads me to think of a separate question, though: is it possible for kids today to experiment with both their gender and their sexuality, so they can be truly authentic to their own selves without having to first try to conform to society’s demands (often with disastrous consequences for them, their spouses, and their own children)? I think that’s the ultimate goal, and it seems you’re doing all you possibly can to make that a reality for C.J. I have a strong feeling that he’ll benefit greatly from this, regardless of his future sexuality. :)

  19. Katie Mike says:

    I can say for a fact that I was never in the closet for myself or to the world. I was very outspoken about being a boy when I was a child, pretty much from as soon as I was could speak, no matter how often my mother pointed out the biological fact that I was female…
    So my mom, being the amazing person that she is (and I suppose my dad should get some credit as well) went ahead and made sure I had role models of every sort in my life, gay straight, transgendered and bi. (she also opened our house to a lot of gay kids who had been kicked out by their parents and let them sleep on our couch as often as they needed) And when I was 12 I noticed I had a crush on my older sisters gay female friend as well as the fact that I’d had crushes on boys before and that day told my mom in the car ride to school that I was pretty sure I was bi. She said that was cool, and that was that. I figured it out and because my mom had made it so acceptable to be whoever I choose to be, I had no problem telling her as soon as I knew. Now I’m 26, and I’ve never had to hide who I am, and I have the confidence to tell anyone who has issues with gays to either accept me, or get out of my life, because I know I have a huge support network at home.
    So I’d say yes, its very possible to never have to come out of the closet, you just have to make sure the child is never put in the closet to begin with.

  20. Is it possible to skip the closet? No. It takes time to understand that the sense of difference you experience is related to your gender. However, coming into this knowledge needn’t be excessively tumultuous. Family support is a great, big slice o’ the initial understanding-‘n’-acceptance pie.

  21. Jay says:

    This is a great question. My hope is that it would be possible for a child to simply naturally accept himself and share the fact of his homosexuality with his family and peers with no drama. But that, I fear, will be rare for a long time, though it is true that kids come out earlier these days with fewer problems than they did earlier.

    About fifteen years ago, however, the son of a dear friend of mine came out to me and my partner. We had known the young man since he was about six years old. HIs mother and father were very liberal, very accepting people, who had many gay and lesbian friends. His mother was particularly close to me, and we joked that she was a “fag hag.” So I was very surprised that when Brad, her son, came out to my partner and me, he made us swear not to tell his parents. We agreed, but assured him that they would be very accepting. Nevertheless, he was adamant.

    He eventually came out to his mother and father, who by that time had amicably divorced. But even then he did not want his mother telling other members of their family, especially his grandparents, who adored him.

    My point is that it is very hard to predict how individuals will feel about revealing their homosexuality to others, even those whom they have good reason to think will be accepting.

  22. sleepydogs says:

    I think it’s possible, but it doesn’t necessarily depend on whether the family is accepting. Even those who have supportive, open families may still find that other pressures cause them to prefer being closeted. Having a supportive family doubtless helps in either case, though, which is the important thing.

  23. Philip says:

    If you don’t mind I would like to share some thoughts on the closet.

    I now believe the closet is about having a secret and being afraid of what will happen if that secret is found out. In other words, the closet is not about gay at all because anyone can have a secet and be afraid of others finding out.
    Coming out then is about being honest about who you are and dealing with the fallout of others finding out. Coming out happens when the price of keeping the secret becomes greater than the fear of what will happen if the secret is not kept under wraps.

    So I see the closet as being a bad (though unfortunately many times necessary) way to manage stigma and coming out as being about freeing oneself from a jail of one’s own making..

    I think these definitions might help you answer questions that might come up in the future like “when is it appropriate for gay people to come out at let’s say Church?” Using my definitions, I think the answer is always even though just because it’s appropriate doesn’t always mean it’s a good idea.

    Hope this helps..

    Regards,
    Philip

  24. Philip says:

    The answer to your question is a definite yes….

    I am a 57 year old gay male and it wasn’t until I was in my 40’s that I met a gay person who had never been in the closet. Jenny told me that when she was 13 that she realized she was gay one morning and told her mother that afternoon. I’m going to guess Jenny’s Mom hold a whole lot to do with Jenny accepting herself right away. To be honest it had never occurred to me that gay people didn’t have to go into the closet; I had always assumed the closet was a gay rite of passage. Now, of course, I know you don’t have to be gay to be in the closet -and- you don’t have to go in the closet if you are gay.

    I am a member of PFLAG and since meeting Jenny I have met several more young gay people in PFLAG meetings that have never been in the closet. Each one has had a supportive Mom or Dad or Grandma. I use the term ;affirmed’ to differentiate gays that are out because they have never been in the closet from gays that have come out of the closet. I think that you are the kind of Mom that will make it possible for if CJ if he is gay to affirm his sexuality instead of going into the closet. CJ is very lucky to have you.

    Thanks for a great question.

    Regards,
    Philip

  25. oddjob says:

    Thanks to blogging I have learned that among the White Mountain Apaches the idea that some people choose to partner with someone else of the same gender is completely accepted as a given and always has been. Even the sacred stories they tell each other (specifically one about Coyote) acknowledge that sometimes people are sexually attracted to others of the same gender and that it doesn’t diminish the value of that tribe member at all.

  26. Molle says:

    It probably depends on where you are.
    Today, I rode the bus home, and at the second stop, a very effeminate teenage boy came in and sat opposite me. He talked happily with everyone, including me, and when the bus passed a group of his peers, they all waved and called out his name. He was clearly known and liked in the neighborhood. He proceeded to talk loudly on the phone with a friend, arranging a sleepover for the weekend, and concluding by saying “my mum will call yours tonight”. I noticed him, because he wanted to be noticed by me and by everyone else – something I saw as separate from his obvious gayness. But I thought of him when I saw your blog linked on the Andrew Sullivan blog.

    I live in a largish city in Europe, where it is seen as very bad manners to express homophobic views. In the old days, it was one of those “gay capitals of the world”, I don’t think it’s so much on the agenda anymore, in the sense that it’s normalized. Among my daughters’ friends there are gay teens and preteens with gender-atypical behavior (my girls are 18 and 12). All is fine. Old-fashioned grandparents are quickly shut up, and the schools crack down on inappropriate behavior instantly. LGBT relationships are discussed in public school sex-ed from the fourth grade on. (Yes, our city council is what Americans would call socialist). So it is possible to grow up in an environment where ones sexuality is accepted almost through and through.
    But on my eldest daughter’s very first night out, when she was 16, she came home shocked after meeting a gay boy from a neighboring, smaller town, who was bullied by his classmates daily, with teachers and parents encouraging the bullies or even participating. Just some 20 or 30 miles away, there is a different world entirely. I wasn’t even aware how bad it was. (As I remember it, the boy had contacted the group my daughter was in because he was thinking of changing schools into the city.

    When I went to secondary school, 30 years ago, several of my friends’ dads came out within the same two or three years. Maybe it was because of HIV/AIDS. It was something our parents talked about. But for us, there was no change. Our friends were the same, the sky didn’t fall down, hell didn’t open. Maybe this experience made everyone see things differently? I don’t know. What is the situation in gay friendly cities in the US?

  27. Lymis says:

    I think you need to separate out several different sorts of closet experiences, as well as several different kinds of coming out experiences before you can answer the question as asked.

    I know that my own closet came from both my family’s input (“little boys don’t do that”) and also the world around me. Both things are wildly different now than they were in the early 60’s, but some of that makes it easier and some of it makes it harder. Remember, people managed to not know that Liberace and Paul Lynde were gay – something that could never happen today.

    Yes, I absolutely believe that you can raise your son without the wounds of feeling shame from his family, and knowing that whatever happens in the world, you’ll be there for him. And to some degree, that also reinforces that he’s different from you, just as it would be if he were left-handed raised by right-handed parents. Some of what you support him in will be in making his own way, being different from you, and in finding other kinds of support for himself. That’s wonderful and necessary, and a hell of a lot better than what I went through feeling that I never knew whether my loving family actually loved me or just who we were all pretending I was.

    I love to believe that you can keep him free of that.

    But as others have said, coming out isn’t a one-time thing. I’ve been out for decades. Just the other day I was at a new doctor’s, and was asked “Are you married?” And so I got to come out yet again. And I was honest, open, and positive, but had, as I always do, that moment on manual when I have to process whether and what to say, whether it’s necessary, whether it’s safe, and what it could cost me. No amount of support from his family is going to change that for him with others, and in a lot of ways, never being in the closet means he’ll be dealing with that far sooner in his life than I ever had to.

    You simply can’t (if only you could) decide that he gets to grow up in a world where everyone will be okay with him being different. What you can do is acknowledge those differences, acknowledge the challenges, and help him develop the coping mechanisms and personal self-esteem to deal with them.

    He will still have to pass through the hell years of junior high when being different is the cardinal sin. Don’t be surprised if puberty, or pre-puberty results in some serious personal makeover that downplays any previous unselfconscious fabulousness. It is damn near impossible to be an unselfconscious teen. He may construct his own version of the closet to get through those times – not unlike what religious minorities, exceptionally talented or bright kids, or the “unconventionally attractive” do to survive. What you can do is make sure home is a place where he knows he can drop the act if he chooses.

    But in a lot of ways, the closet is protective coloration. Don’t strip off his ability to camouflage and not help him replace it with something else, like a very strong sense of what is and isn’t anyone else’s business even when there’s nothing whatsoever wrong with it.

  28. Tuba says:

    WOW well I have to say being a 41 year old gay male I would have to say I doubt it’s possible only because the world is so disproportionate in it’s view and population. Everywhere he looks he’s going to be seeing male/female couples. I really hate to say that but even at my age I know that I find myself leaving out details when talking to some people. Mostly because I just don’t want to deal with any small minded garbage. My friends adopted a little boy who is now 5 and every so often it becomes and issue for him to have two dads instead of a mother and a father.

    I’ve recently moved out to San Francisco and it’s a whole different world from the life I had in Ohio. Here I see people being more accepting and open to differences. You see people with different styles, attitudes, and beliefs all around the city. I think that helps everyone just stand back and be more tolerant. The sad thing is that it’s only a bubble here and I am pretty sure if you left the city limits things would almost immediately change. I think he has the most loving mother and father and that will be his biggest and best asset as he goes through life. That’s what’s going to make his life better and let him grow up to he a happy and well adjusted individual.

    So as much as I wish that a child didn’t have to worry about coming out of the closet, I don’t see how a child with all the influences around him wouldn’t bend to ‘popular’ behavior and try to be like everyone else at some point. That being said there are some children who are incredibly strong and won’t give in to what everyone else is doing. C.J. might just be one of those children that is extremely strong and happy young man as you’re stories have shown. That is all thanks to you, his loving family.

  29. Meadowlark says:

    I have just discovered your blog via a link from Box Turtle Bulletin, so I am late to this discussion. But as the mother of 17-7ear-old gender-atypical twins, I am happy to find you!

    And from our perspective (with our lesbian twins happily on the other side of adolescence) I can give a qualified “yes” to your question–it is possible for a child to grow up gay and never have to go into the closet, at least with immediate family. This is what we say about our daughters, that they didn’t have to come out to us because we treated their sexuality as an open question; instead they simply “came into” their sense of sexual identity at the same time and in the same ways as their heterosexual peers. Even so, at the age of 12 they did “come out” to their grandparents and friends, mainly to dispel the *assumption* that they were heterosexual. It was more a matter of clarifying their position so that others would stop asking whether they had any boyfriends yet.

    Like you, my husband and I made a conscious decision (when our kids were four) to accept their own expressions and choices regarding gender, and not to make any assumptions about their sexuality. We also openly affirmed the various possibilities for love and affection (for example, singing Fred Small’s “Everything Possible” as a lullaby). And we did help them come up with answers to the challenges other people would make to them (answers to demands like, “why are you riding a boy’s bike?”). At 17, our daughters are strong and secure and confident, with enough inner confidence that they can let homophobic words or glares just wash past them. They’re little ambassadors for gender diversity and LGBT equality, as your CJ is already.

  30. jack says:

    okay, having now done due diligence, i can address a few ideas. a lot of really positive hopes and personal experience shared so far, and one would be hard pressed to read all this and come way without a better understanding of the closet and coming out.

    i notice two things about coming out not mentioned. first, coming out is not a one time event, it is a recurring process, and frankly the obligation to do so at some point in a relationship can get damn annoying. in any social setting, work or play, secular or religious, the possibility of a deeper connection looms, and within that the knowledge that for that relationship to move beyond superficial, sexual orientation must be addressed or one’s head might explode, or so it seems to me. the presumption of “straightness” must be put to rest. when how and with whom is always the circling question, too soon being just as awful as too late.

    i just had a situation with a lady had coming in to help me clean my apartment. she did a great job, but as she was walking out for reasons known only to a deity, she chose to pick that moment to bemoan the horror of beholding “gasp” two men or boys kissing on her television. i suggested to her that perhaps there were worse things in life to behold, like all the violence visible daily on reality or scripted programming, or in life, like the heterosexual husband who beat her and put her on the streets to fend for herself with no money. needless to say, i don’t seem to be able to reach her on the phone for work any longer. coming out, never ends.

    second, it isn’t only us, the glbtqi whatever that have painful coming out processes, as cj’s mom well knows. each member of the family will be confronted with the opportunity, or even need, to come out as a family member of friend. and with the same mixed bag of results. friendships, and boundaries, will be tested, the culture in which the detective works can be extremely difficult to navigate. i have two friends, one who is now a florida sheriff, and the other in the USMC. both have to decide what to do about the kind pf conversations and attitudes taking place all around them, do they participate heartily in verbal fag bashing, chuckle and move on, or defend those not present, in effect coming out as friend to friends of dorothy. is it worth the razzing? what is the detective going to do when he hears the familiar names and familiar jokes and taunts bandied about. how long will he be able to stand it before he indicates that such comments are no longer welcome or appropriate in the workplace, thereby gaining himself both support and bitter enemies.

    parents, now may be the time to bone up on how you are going to “come out” to family and peers about being the parent of a fabulous child. people must be doing it, because as more of us come out, and more friends and relatives claim us in all our imperfect perfectness, the more western culture is changing. hell, even india is changing.

  31. jack says:

    i’m posting first and reading others post afterward. while the age of recognizing sexual orientation and gender non-conformity is growing ever younger, i don’t think “coming out” will ever fully disappear, although the process within the family can become relatively painless. kids are not unaware that they are different from the vast majority of their social milieu and social expectations and at some point will have to confirm that this is okay with even the most accepting family. i just had this goofy idea that, perhaps, if families had a little ceremony where the children declare their orientation as they understand it and this is explained as something dictated by some internal clock that only they could feel. at least it would be kind of a neat thing, even if not very practical. happy affectional awareness day?

  32. Daniel Scott says:

    I think this is a really great question. I’ve thought about my answer a lot and I think that you have to look at “coming out” and “coming out of the closet” as two seperate things. There is a moment of realization in every queer persons life when they realize that they’re different. The process of saying “I’m Gay!” to themselves and to those around them is what I think of as “coming out,” and I think it’s a big part of coming into who you are as a person not just as a member of the LGBT community. I think it’s more about the realization and acceptable of who someone is attracted to. In theory I think straight people have a “coming out” moment as well…it’s just less dramatized.

    Just because C.J. is different now doesn’t guarantee he’ll be gay later on. He’ll need to have that coming out moment for himself no matter which team he plays for. What you can do (and have been doing amazingly well) is ensure that the environment he has been raised in has taught him that he can share the entire process with you and the rest of the family. When he feels safe and loved it removes the need for a closet to hide in and later come out of.

    I hope this helps….

  33. Christine says:

    Yes absolutely. Great question by the way. That is the goal in our house, my husband and I celebrate all differences and teach our kids that everyone is beautiful. We have a fabulous little guy of our own, very similar to CJ, and talk openly of various lifestyles, culture, races and religions. We envision a day when “coming out of the closet” is really no big deal.

  34. Allison says:

    I think it is possible and CJ may very well be a wonderful example! I love this post and hope to someday live in a world where there isn’t a need for any closets. :)

  35. Stephen says:

    Hi C.J’s mom

    In my view of coming out to parents or immediate family most children go through exploring there sexual identity. Now most young children (boys and girls) that explore there sexual identity. The best way is to listen to your child and how they answer.

    As I have said I have a son who is like C.J. and I would not change a thing about him. But I do think that with a good supportive family network that the child will be accepted and that as long as the family care for the child that they will be a well adjusted person. I hope that as time goes on parents will become more accepting of the fact there child does not fit in the social norm I have started to get involved with an LGBT youth support group to become more educated for my son.

    I feel sorry for some of the young people that are rejected by there parents and family and I know that it can be hard for them but these are there kids. I hope that in time parents can become more accepting to there kids.

  36. I love this. Not only is he open minded with his own body and appearance, but also with his art. That’s the beginning of a true artist. Don’t care what others think before you let it flow freely from your mind.

    As with a world where gay people can live without ever being in the closet, I don’t think that can happen in the majority of homes. Kids always sense the hopes and desires of their parents and deep down inside, they don’t want to let them down. No matter where the child is raised, whether in the city or out in the country, parents are the same in that respect. They want their children to grow up in their footsteps, become self-reliant, productive people in society who have children of their own. Unfortunately, these traits are not seen as part of the a homosexual’s life by many parents. That pushes the child into a mental closet, and in most instances, a feeling of hopelessness of ever being able to embrace himself or herself.

    As I always say…it all starts with the parents and the qualities they instill in their children.

  37. Darrin says:

    Possibly… But you have to remember that coming ouf isn’t just for other people, it’s for himself too. He first has to realize that he his gay, then he has to come out. He might not be able to skip the step id he realized 13,14,15, or even later. Thats because people will ask him and he probably will tell them he’s straight. So it depends..

  38. RainbowWarrior says:

    I’m an officer in my campus Gay-Straight Alliance (small liberal arts mecca in the middle of the typically gay-unfriendly South), and in the past year we’ve adopted a new kind of language about coming out – we’ve turned it on its head and now refer to this process as “inviting others INto our Truth.”
    The analogy is that a closet is someplace where you hide; it’s a dark place where all your dirty secrets are hidden, where you cower and wait for someone to fling open the door and throw the light into all your business, or else wait for a time when sufficiently few people are standing outside the closet, at which point you feel safe enough to poke your head out and claim your rightful place in the sun. Coming OUT of the closet means that we have to force our way into a space that didn’t want us in it, a place from which we fled into the closet in the first place.
    But when we think of our sexual orientation as just one of many integral aspects of our identity, and are comfortable in that, we can begin to think of our lives and our “selves” as our homes. We can choose to stand on the porch and talk to people we don’t yet trust, we can choose to invite people inside but keep some doors closed, and when we’re ready, we can invite the truly special ones in our lives into our homes, our selves, our Truths, with nothing held back. In this way, we take away the power of those who would “out” us, force us into the open for their own purposes. If we have not personally invited someone in, then they are of no concern.
    I say all this because I think that CJ can probably grow up, at least to a certain age, with little knowledge of or need for a “closet” to hide in. His life will be something that you, his family, will always be a part of, and you can help support him as he decides who else he can invite in. Fortunately for the little guy, he won’t grow up feeling like his true self is something he should have to hide, so he could be among the first generation to bypass the “closet” altogether.
    Here’s hoping, CJ – keep rocking!

  39. To never have to go into the closet- that should be the entire goal for all people, whatever their closet. I would truly hope that this concept is not just a rare exception to the rule, but I don’t hold out too much hope. From the sounds of it, he will never have a need to pretend to be anyone other than who he is for his family, but society as a whole is not so smart. I loved the comment above about the man who had a family that stood up for him and never made him feel that he had to hide who he was, but I keep thinking about, not just sexuality, but all of the other parts about us- as people- that we hide from others for soooo many reasons. Yes it’s possible, but it will take a whole village.

  40. Thomas says:

    Honestly, I think that’s an amazing idea. Wow… what a world that would be.

  41. I see no need for anyone to be in the closet. (In an ideal world) Raising CJ to be himself first with his sexuality a non-issue will hopefull mean he won’t have to be anyway. :)

  42. Leigh says:

    What if your child does not know that they are attracted to somebody? Certainly they know who they don’t like (I recall namedropping to make my own mother happy when she started pressuring me about that thing, had to take it back later even though it pissed her off just because I couldn’t stand somebody thinking I liked them), but many of us had no idea that we were reacting differently around certain people (or images for that matter). Personally it took me until I was sixteen years old to look back and think “Oh, so THAT’S why I kept making an ass of myself around so-and-so (/wanted to look at a certain film cover every time I went to Blockbuster).” If they don’t know themselves then a “closet” is going to pop up the minute they put two and two together and realize the implications it carries.

  43. Dave says:

    In the story you describe, the kid is still coming out to his family… he’s just doing it earlier and easier than most.

    In even the most supportive family imaginable, there’s still a “coming out” process. There’s still a point at which you have to put a name to your feelings, acknowledge to yourself who you are, and share that discovery with the people closest to you.

    The best you can do is to make an environment where a child feels no need to conceal the truth for even a minute, where the closet presents no real temptation whatsoever, so that “coming out” really becomes “coming to terms”.

    My ex was a dancer raised in a family of dancers. There was never any question but that his family would be supportive. There was never any question, at least in his mind, that he was gay. And yet he still felt the need to “come out” to his family. Why? Because for him, it was a matter of acknowledging that he was ready to identify as gay, to apply the word to himself and let others know it was OK to do so as well. It was sort of a way to take back the label from the people outside his family who had tried to apply it to him for years.

    So, yeah. I think there will always be a coming out process, but there won’t always necessarily be a closet. In the best of cases, it’s little more than a gay débutante announcement acknowledging that you’re ready to take up the identity. But it’s still a pretty important transition.

  44. Christy says:

    I do think it is possible, but just with immediate family. I think it is obvious that not everyone out there will be accepting and supportive, so it might be necessary for whatever reason to keep it a secret from society, BUT I think it can be a non-issue in a loving, open minded, accepting family :-) I am trying to create this scenario in my own family.

  45. Coccinelle says:

    I admit I thought about it before, and I came to conclusion that I want to raise my children that way. I realize that even if I ask nice open questions about who my kids find cute, not every person in my children life will do so. So I really don’t know.

    But one thing I want to reply to some people here that talked about coming out as ‘gay’ or ‘bi’ is that I think it’s a non-issue if you don’t care to whom your child is attracted to. If you don’t need to have labels and if you don’t care about it why should it be an issue? Maybe I’m dreaming…

  46. LT says:

    yup, I think it’s possible, and I wish more kids had such an open environment growing up. your child may or may not be gay, but he’s never going to have to worry about love and acceptance and that’s amazing. hope to raise my kids the same way one day.

  47. Tom D says:

    Let me answer your question with a question: What are you going to do when your concept goes viral?
    I hope you’ve prepared yourself to share your ideas on the TV circuit/circus.
    This is an AMAZING idea…er, I mean AMAZEBALLS idea. Although, like one of the responders said, there will be some form of ‘closet’ that he’ll come out of…in a way, I think we all have. You may have to come out of your anonymity closet when you become famous.
    I’m a cradle catholic and married straight male with 2 boys and at several points in my life I had to ‘come out’ about certain effeminate qualities of mine, like, loving romantic comedic movies, musicals, Emo-music (which used to be called Modern-Rock btw), etc.
    Now, I am definitely not trying to trivialize the difficulty of coming out of the closet and I certainly don’t want to offend the LGBT community (I had to scroll back up to make sure I got the acronym correct…sorry;), but I would hope, someday, that a person’s sexuality is just as significant as, say, what kind of car you drive. Again, i’m not trying to trivialize…just hoping for a future where it doesn’t bother society a person’s sexual preference. All I know is that I’m one less person that any ‘C.J.’ I meet will not have to worry about being who they are.
    Continued Luck.

  48. Nikita Lostracco says:

    I cry as I read most of your posts on CJ. I want him. He is sooooo special and Mom, you are even more so. I have said before-LET CJ BE CJ. I absolutely LOVE, with every fiber of my being, CJ and YOU. Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be. Whisper words of wisdom, let it be. I would love for CJ to make a caterpillar for me. I’d PROUDLY put it on my wall. Thanks for posting, Mom, you and CJ made my day today and help me see whats really important in life. Happiness, acceptance and love.

  49. mariets says:

    I wish I’d have a mom like you :’)

  50. Shanel Wilson says:

    I love this idea. I really hope that this could be true for the sake of the child growing up and then never having to face the potential embarrassment, pain and other things that comes with coming out of the closet. I wonder if, in children’s infinite ability to be wise and innocent all at once, they could be so open to admit their true feelings for someone they find amazeballs no matter the gender even though they have been shown at that young age that it might not be okay.
    I love that CJ wanted to the caterpillar to be both a girl and boy. I love that he wanted to express that those two ideas can be in one thing and doesn’t have to be separated. And of course, I always love a full head of hair!

  51. Marc Davidson says:

    First, I would like to say that I am a new reader of Raising my Rainbow and I am extremely impressed by your and your husband’s acceptance of C.J.

    From what i can tell, C.J. is the type of kid who just likes being himself, and you are nurturing that. He will never stop being himself and most people will assume he is homosexual. However, at some point in time he is going to have to become aware of who he is attracted to and then have to tell his family. In my mind, that is coming out of the closet. That is not to say that he will suffer like a lot of other LGBT individuals. With your support, he will probably have no fears in telling you who he is attracted to. None-the-less, he will still have to “come out” at some point, even if it is just for himself.

  52. Ellen says:

    I think it is totally possible to grow up without being closeted. I agree with Kat. I feel with parents like you it can happen. I know when I was in my 20’s and in college taking women’s studies courses I decided that when I had my first child I was going to raise her more androgynous …dressing her a certain way….did not really work too well but I tried. This was almost 30 years ago. And thinking back to my now lesbian daughter..she is my youngest of three…she was a tomboy when she was young and would wear her brother’s hand me downs…flannel shirts and jeans…in 6th grade her friends (girls) wanted her to start dressing more girlie…so she gave up her flannel shirts but not her jeans….it was hard for her but she wanted to please her friends…..interesting that the peer pressure got to her way back then. Society and those around us do form opinions and perceptions. I think it is totally possible to prevent one from entering the closet but what the outside world thinks still may cause issues down the road. But I do think these societal pressures and perceptions will continue to change and progress. Bravo to you and all you are doing!!

    • maddox says:

      Peer pressure can still put people back in the closet, no matter how supportive their family is. Sometimes children internalize society’s attitudes and responses about something and keep it to themselves, even if the ideas at home are totally different.

      Ideally CJ and other children would never have to come out to anyone. For the immediate future I certainly see it possible that they don’t have to come out to their family, as in your case, but they will still have to come out to others, like peers, friends, teachers, etc. I think the world doesn’t move as fast as you or we do.

  53. glored13 says:

    I love CJ’s caterpillar!

    As for your question, yes I think it is absolutely possible. In fact, that’s pretty much what happened for me. I just came home one day in college and was like, Mom I can’t wait for you to meet Kate, my girlfriend. And she was like, oh I can’t wait to meet her. And that was that. It was never really an issue. At some point we talked about the fact that I didn’t know what to ‘identify’ as, that I thought bisexual was the closest label if I had to have one, and what that means to me. But it was just like any other conversation that you have with your mom about life. It wasn’t me coming out to her.

    I think if you are raised in an open and loving home in which homosexuality is accepted, you’re much more likely to never have to ‘come out.’ And you have to keep in mind that I was not exposed to homophobia much in my daily life outside of my family either. The few experiences I had were the exception, not the norm in my life. But then, that’s just my own personal experience.

  54. kantal113 says:

    We can only hope such a thing is possible. I struggled with my sexuality for most of my adult life, and it’s only been a few years since I really understood it. I’m 35 and a mother now. Having to be “in the closet” or for me, it was more about being “half in and half out of that closet”, as I am a true bisexual. That made things difficult for several years, because the straight people I knew expected me to be able to choose a side, and the gay people I knew thought I just wanted the best of both worlds and was being wishy-washy or greedy.
    It would have been nice had bisexuality just been accepted and understood all along. Then I wouldn’t have had to explain to anyone how I could possibly have a crush on a close female friend, but totes make out with my cutie-pie boyfriend.

  55. Travis says:

    I’m so fortunate to have a supportive and open So Cal family and that I consider myself as never being closeted. That being said, everyone knew I was gay (and were vocal about it) and the pressure to decide or come out or prove them wrong may have kept me straight identified longer. At 22, the lightbulb went on and came out to my family 2 weeks later and the response was “yes honey, we know.” At the time that was wildly frustrating but working in academia now I can’t help but see some of my drama boys and say to my self “you are sooooooo gaaaaaaay! Gürl!” (I want to tell them to figure it out sooner than later so they can have more fun at art school than I did!) So all I can do is look back and smile about my ‘straight’ self, dating girls, wearing the most colorful clothes I could find, dressing in drag for my 1st grade Halloween. But I also am so grateful for my family and always knowing that gay was okay (even if one of my sisters was a little heavy handed).

    I think we may have a world without the closet someday, thanks in part to cool moms like mine and YOU. But I think our society has to become a cool mom too before the closet becomes the unusual route to self awareness. Sadly we aren’t there yet, and I dare say we will be in our lifetimes.

    Love your blog, keep up the good work on and offline. I’m glad that if the day comes for CJ to figure it out that he will know he is loved; from my experience that makes it easy.

  56. lubbockgaymale says:

    I hope for his sake it will never be necessary to worry about being ‘in/out of the closet’. Being in the closet means hiding who/what you are, and it definitely sounds like CJ will never have that problem! I applaud you for your love and techniques, and I bet you will have a loving adult son, regardless of which gender ID he ends up choosing as an adult.

  57. mika says:

    I wrote a very eloquent piece about being an accepted ‘boy’ by my dad and it got evaporated. Tell your wee princess that life is beautiful and make him/her very proficient in self defense. As a victim of ‘corrective’ rape at 17, I will tell you that it is not whether your princess boy is gay, hetero, or multi, but the perception. As such, he is not a ‘wrong’ child, but should tread heavy and carry a loaded wand.

    Princess microdude, mad tomcat mama love

    Mika the Roofer

  58. Moi says:

    Here’s a post by a blogger writing about how he found out his daughter is bi because she told him about her latest crush at school, just like she’d done in talking about her other crushes, but this particular crush was on a girl. No dramatic moment, just a kid talking about who she liked.

  59. Jack says:

    People like predictability &, therefore, do not like the unknown &/or that which they find difficult to understand. Hence, they attempt to understand things by categorizing & classifying them (usually in a binary fashion) based on similarities so that they may then make certain assumptions about (or pre-judge, if you will) other things they encounter that have some similarity to that which they already understand; they choose to generalize by imposing “boxes,” “labels,” “categories,” “guidelines,” etc. on the world thereby limiting the available options of how to describe something & attempting to make it more predictable.

    However, this is a human construction. It is, in my opinion, the human condition. Realistically, the universe/nature & humanity are a much more fluid spectrum akin to a continuum rather than a binary, but due to the human tendency to dichotomize, we limit ourselves. Think about it: Even our languages (which are a reflection of the way we think & an attempt to generalize concepts & ideas so that we may communicate between each other) are imperfect & limiting. For example, when you order a happy meal what do they ask you: “Girl or boy toy?” This opens an entirely unnecessary can of worms. Not only could we just ask “Which toy: spaceship or tiara?” but by limiting ourselves to only two gender variances (in idea & language since, in English, there is no word of equivalent social ideology for genders other than “boy” & “girl”), we completely marginalize anyone who does not strictly fit into the subjective definition of what the questioner thinks a “girl” or “boy” is. Even biological sex, which many like to think of as synonymous with gender, is not always so cut & dry.

    Therefore, it is the people, ideas, choices, etc. that do not fit into these societal “boxes” that are ambiguous & unpredictable to many people, & it the ambiguous & unpredictable nature of these things that many find so unlikeable. So when we talk about “coming out of the closet,” we’re really just saying, “Choose a label & clear up the ambiguity so that we may make other assumptions about you based on this label.” On side note, that’s what I’ve always felt was so great about “queer.” While it is still a label of sorts, it at least offers a much more fluid definition by embracing essentially any & all things that do not fit perfectly within the binary construction of society at large, but I digress.

    To answer your question, I do believe it is possible to never have to come out of the closet, not by opening the closet door and making those inside feel as if they’re in the same room, but by taking out the closet walls altogether. The primary flaw is the system, not how we operate within it; though that is never a bad place to start. But, even if we did, say, offer a third category for gender, it would still inevitably marginalize people as there will always be new &/or different things. The universe is constantly changing & will always present a challenge to order; it’s simply it’s tendency towards disorder. Eventually, we would end up adding so many categories that the point of categorizing would be lost, but if we just throw out the boxes, we’d avoid the entire predicament with which we began.

    Furthermore, I’d just like to say I think you’re doing just this, & it is fantastic. What I gather from reading your blog (which I find very enjoyable, interesting, & encouraging) is that you don’t ask your boys (directly or indirectly through embedded language cues) “Boy or girl?” “Straight or gay?” You leave it open by simply saying, “Do you think anyone in your class is cute?” “What would you like to wear today?” “Which toy do you want?” I think you’re doing a terrific job with your boys, & I applaud you as a mother & as a human being. The way you’re heading, neither C.J. nor his brother will have to come out of the closet because there will be no closet. Much love, luck & kudos to you.

    • Jack says:

      Sorry to everyone if that got a little dry and technical… lol It’s just a subject that I’m really passionate about.

      • jack says:

        please note that the jack without a gravatar is not the same person as the jack doing the visible santa imitation…

  60. Alistair says:

    I once heard of a guy who went back in the closet as a teen because his parents were being so over-supportive it freaked him out. Just thought that would be an interesting addition to the conversation. Moderation in all things…

    • Pablito Garcia says:

      @ Alistair,

      The problem with personal anecdote is we have no way to arrive at the meaning rigorously. That is, we have no reason to believe the teens self-report. Furthermore, we have good reason to believe that for a teen no parent, regardless of what s/he is doing, can do anything right :)

      Next, even if we were to allow your conclusion from this subjective case study (which does suffer from a fallacy of selection) it’s even less relevant/logical because it is a straw-boy/girl (in honor of CJ) argument.

      How so?

      Well, as you point out the teen went “back” into the closet. CJ’s mom is asking the question is is possible for a lgbtqqi child to never GO IN the closet. As such, this case study does not apply.

      Finally, the popular advice that “moderation” in everything is a value is one of these insidious ideas. Moderation in many things is the cause, not the solution, to many of the evils perpetuated on humankind. …

      …I consider:

      Plessy v. Ferguson the USSC decision that lead to “separate but equal”
      How about the 3/5ths person “compromise” that supported the slave owning south in the US Constitution’s drafting?
      To which I would add the “Civil Unions” movement which harms full marriage equality.

      No, extreme evils require extreme opposition.

  61. Jeremy says:

    Im so happy you asked this question. I am one of the very fortunate few who didnt have to have a closet. I was always effeminate and everyone just assumed I was gay. I come from a very large, loving, and protective familiy in a tiny town called Wister in Oklahoma. No one cared, and if they did no one told me. I was never made to feel bad about my sexuality, I was always allowed to be open about being attracted to other boys. It was great. In fact I didnt even know that other people didnt like homosexuals until my highschool years. I have found out over the years that my cousins and brothers often stood up for me in school without me ever knowing about it. It is very possible to grow up without a closet, and I highly recomend it. I have often told people that I never needed a closet because I had a fabulous wardrobe instead! Much love to your family!

  62. Cami says:

    As you are very clearly aware, people are born gay. So whether or not they choose to share this fact at any age can never be predetermined. However, I do believe that it is possible that a person may never be stuck “in the closet”. I’m sure there are people that have never necessarily kept their sexuality a secret, although they may be modest about it.

    I think the younger a person is that is out in the open about their sexual preference, especially if they’re GLBT, then maybe, just maybe, the people in their lives (ie: children in their class) will be more open to the idea. Children are sponges and usually completely open-minded. It’s not until we’re older than ignorance takes the best of us and we begin to judge others by what they do, how they dress, or who they like.

    My question for you is what do you think a devout ‘religious person’ would have done in your place? Someone who strongly and firmly believes that homosexuality is a sin, but here is their child right in front of them showing all signs of the aforementioned? Do you think the religious follower, or person in general, would push their child to be someone their not, all the while most likely screwing them up for life? Or do you think they would have a change of heart, for it is their child, and we can never love anyone as much as the human being that we have made?

    • jack says:

      point of clarification, and i think an important one. one can be devoutly religious and have absolutely no problem with same sex attractions. there are many such, and congregation by congregation, synod , by presbytery, by parish, by bish0pric; they are making their presence felt, in many cases causing schisms in denominations around the world. religious conservatives cannot claim sole ownership of piety, nor should news commentators or reporters cede such to them.

  63. Laura Wankel says:

    My hubby and I had this conversation a few weeks ago after watching Lisa Ling’s Pray the Gay Away episode on Our America. I asked him if he thought it would be possible for us to raise our children in a way that they would never have to “come out”…never have to have that “conversation”. I never want them to feel afraid to be who they are. That they could just come home one day and say I like _____ without a thought that that person’s gender would matter to us. My hubby believes that society’s homophobia will get in the way but I am still hopeful that it can be done, at least in our house.

    • jack says:

      i have to agree with your husband, but, big but, the degree to which you paved the way for that conversation AND the degree to which society, and your own personal circle express their openness ought to be mitigating factors. two children of gay accepting famous moms, chaz bono and james duke mason, both had an agonizing period contemplation before doming out and each mother, even while suspecting it, had a period of confronting the effects this had on themselves. in other words, you’re never QUITE ready to hear the words, even if you are buying little butch pinafores.

  64. Simone says:

    I can’t believe I’ve never thought of this question! You’re BRILLIANT and your question shows how smart and thoughtful you are–not to mention how great of a mom you are for thinking of it in the first place. It’s a beautiful reflection of your desire to make your child’s world an easier place in which to grow up. Yes, it is entirely possible for CJ to never have to be IN or OUT of any metaporical closet, and I hope CJ and all his peers and future generations will get to have that right–because that is what it is . . . a RIGHT, not only a privilege!

  65. Pablito Garcia says:

    To suggest that the “closet” is either some kind of self-imposed incarceration of the soul by peeps on themselves is the kind of blaming the victim seen in comments like “s/he deserved the unwanted sexual advances because who not wanting such things would dress like that…”

    While there is a self-loathing, self-hate, and self-inflicted quality to being in the closet, it is in relation to the systematic and acculturated aspects of homophobia.

    Similarly, family is not a sufficient condition for a life in the closet nor a pass from exiting it. Let me tell you about a nifty 12-year old who’s mother I met on facebook. He’s a theater guy, wears tight (and may even be girl’s) jeans …though he doesn’t seem to be emo… Loves Glee, etc. etc.

    Well, the other day he was anti-gay bashed.

    Now, I happen to see with my own eyes his Mum is awesome. He has gay friends (family?)… But he has never seemed to speak of his sexual orientation. He has “married” a girl on his FB account. And, given the playful nature of that whole thing, I wouldn’t consider it “closeted” behavior even if he does id as gay now or later…

    And that to me is the whole point, part of coming out of the closet is the adolescent identity challenge of “Who am I?” … And while, I along with many other gay people talk about “knowing from a young age”… I think it’s the kind of “knowing in reverse” that ignores the very real quality of journey in the process of self-discovery.

    Let me add to this the whole nature of labels.

    Say your older son did say the Charger wearing boy (that’s a sports thingy right?) was amazeballs (great word, btw) that doesn’t mean he’s not bi… And in that same way, as long as we have this obsession with labels there will always be a form of coming out …even if the “out” isn’t so much from the closet as coming out of ambiguity for the sake of OTHERS.

    In closing, I think the greater wisdom in your post is a sensitivity to how parents can communicate and indoctrinate heteronormativity … I’ve even seen baby’s parents talk about a boy fixated on a female server at a restaurant as if he’s got a crush… Now, common, babies fixate visually on any number of things and people. And yet, had it been a male server, the dialogue would be very different.

    I like that you don’t ask if he finds any girls cute…

    The other day, my 4yo niece, was showing me her makeup toy. She said something about it being for “girls” and I said, well, your toy is for you, that’s for sure. However, make-up is for anyone…and I know a number of fabulous boys who like it.

    She then asked if she could do my makeup… …and well, I was a fabulous boy with glitter makeup and a full beard :)

  66. Tommy says:

    Of course he could grow up without the closet. Being closeted is a shame-based, learned behavior. At least it was in my case fifty years ago. No one had to tell me directly I was “wrong”, I inferred it from the remarks I heard around me. Cultural and gender stereotyping are learned behaviors, or as my anthropologist friend says “hetero-normative”. Being identified as “outside the norm” is inevitable for C.J. but it is how he responds that will guide his life choices. The support of parents, the instillation of self-esteem and self-confidence in the formative years will make the closet obsolete.

    • Tommy says:

      PS: His caterpillar reminds me of the Native American ‘berdache’ concept of a person with ‘Two Spirits’, both male and female in one body.

      • Pablito Garcia says:

        @ Tommy, I had the same thought re: Indigenous people’s and the idea of the two spirited.

  67. Michael says:

    My mind is exploding. No closet for homosexuals? Where would we we hang our issues? Can’t wait to hear what your wise readers come up with.

  68. Jo Hadley says:

    I absolutely believe that families who give their kids full permission to love and be attracted to boys, girls, or both will not have a closet for their kids to hide in. What a wonderful thought! I, too, am very careful when I talk about sexuality with my kids each and every time. For example, I say, “when you grow up, you might marry a woman; you might marry a man, or you might not get married at all.” I even extended my values to my cat and did not make assumptions about who our female cat was hanging out with. I said, “This Crackerjack that our kitty is hanging out with might be a boy cat, might be a girl cat, and it doesn’t matter because they love hanging together!” My 6-year-old son was disappointed to find out just today that Crackerjack is a male! We were rooting for them to be gay!

  69. Kat Holtz says:

    I think it is entirely possible to have a generation of kids that will not have to be in the closet. That is because of young parents like you who are being supportive of your kids, and demanding that the rest of the world, especially schools, make a safe and supportive environment for everyone. I try to teach this to my teens in our sexuality classes. They have some support from family and church, but not the environmental support that I see just beginning to change.

  70. Tiffany says:

    There will always be that first time that a person says to him or herself, “I’m Gay” and a first time it’s said out loud and a first time it is said to another person. That, to me, is coming out. It’s a moment of realization I think, maybe knowing and understanding that there is a word to help describe who they are. It’s not necessarily a coming out of hiding or admitting a deep dark shameful secret. So yes, to me, there is for every homosexual person a moment of coming out. It’s just up to us who know them whether it will be a difficult, an easy, or a very nonchalant moment.

    But then again, I’m straight and raising a girl who is, I’m pretty sure, straight; So I could be talking a bunch of rubbish.

    • Tiffany,
      You may be straight, but you got it. Sometimes when gay folk talk amongst themselves, they will ask the “when did you come out” question. And we have to clarify, “come out to myself, or come out to the world?”

      There are always steps. And even in the very most accepting families there is a process.

      And consider, even the most supportive mother on earth may not be informed right away. Because, yes, i’ve also heard, “Oh god, I can’t tell my Mom. She’ll get all excited and make a big deal out of it.” And at that coming-out age, sometimes you just really need not to be too closely tied to your parents. Cuz you really REALLY need for them not to be TOO cool (even if you’re secretly glad that all your friends think that they are).

      The best a mom can do is to know that her lil’ one knows that he is supported, and knows that he CAN come out to her if he wants to. And if he doesn’t want to right away… well that may just be because he’s a kid.

  71. Daigan says:

    I love your site. I also really love this question. As a gay guy, I often wonder (or whine) about how much better life would be if I was raised like CJ or in some other way than the way I was raised. As I get older (I am almost 50 now) I am starting to see the gifts that come from being raised how I was raised.

    So my take on your question is this: What difference does it make? We sacrifice some things in favor of others if we go this way, or in some other direction we sacrifice something else. So I think really we are better served to just focus on what we got.

    CJ is lucky to have a mom who thinks about these things.. I am lucky to have a mom who didn’t but tried to do what she thought was right. In the end it all seems to have worked out.

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