What’s Trending Now (According To My 7-Year-Old Son)

Tie-Dyed Underwear: Yes, you read that right. Now, I’ve tie-dyed a lot of things in my life, but never my underwear. This was all my friend Marie’s doing. She knows that C.J. often has mixed feelings about his underwear. He no longer wants to wear girls’ underwear, but also finds boys’ underwear to be very boring. So, Marie bought a package of white Hanes boys’ brief and let C.J. tie-dye them. They are now his favorite. Marie is my favorite.

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These Shoes: He can’t get enough of these shoes. I’ve told him he can’t wear them to school when it starts. He didn’t like me saying that.  The end.

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Dreamcatchers: C.J. has always been my good sleeper. When we brought him home from the hospital, he consistently slept five consecutive hours at night. His doctor wanted me to wake him after four hours to feed him so he wouldn’t starve to death. I didn’t and he’s still alive. He’s never been one to have bad dreams. On the contrary, he reports that his dreams have been known to feature cotton candy, cats and Kesha. One night we were watching the Twilight movie New Moon in which Jacob gives Bella a dreamcatcher and explains what it does. C.J. was hooked. He bought himself a pink dream catcher and put it on his headboard. He’s just like Bella Swan. On vacation this summer, among his souvenirs were a dreamcatcher bracelet and another (much, much larger) dreamcatcher for his bed. When asked if the dreamcatchers keep his bad dreams away he said, “Yeah, I think so. But I don’t know why they are called night-mirrors, my dreams never have mirrors in them.”

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Wigs: Read my last blog post to see just how in to wigs C.J. is. Plus, over the summer, a drag queen taught C.J. how to put a wig on “the right way.” He puts his thumbs up, rests the base of his thumbs against his forehead, when I put the wig up to his forehead, he hooks it with his thumbs and keeps them there as I pull the wig down in the back. Then, and only then, does he release his thumbs. He’s perfected this technique and looks forward to using it for many years to come.

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Puppets: At present moment, C.J. wants to be a puppeteer when he grows up. He got his favorite puppet as another vacation souvenir and rarely goes anyplace without her.  Her name has been Lucy, then Bucket, then Harry, then Lucy, then Caroline.  She is currently nameless.  She is a cheerleader, which makes C.J. kind of want to be a cheerleader, but he wants to be a puppeteer more.

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SO SO Happy Back-To-School Backpack: C.J. loves everything that the SO SO Happy brand has to offer. (I mean, I do too, they make cool stuff, embrace individuality, build self-confidence, inspire positivity and acceptance among all beings). He can’t wait to rock this backpack on the first day of school.  He’d like you to know that “you can also wear it as a ‘frontpack’ to look like you are carrying the happy monster like a baby and that always makes people smile.

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My Son: Wigging Out

C.J.’s birthday is six months away, so – naturally — he thinks it’s time to start planning his party. Last year we celebrated with lunch, shopping and pierced ears for his doll at the American Girl store in Los Angeles.

How does he plan to top that?

By having his eighth birthday party at a wig and hairpiece store.
We were at the mall when he shouted, “I’m going to have my birthday party there!!!”

When I whipped my head around, I saw him pointing to Pauls Products – which serves the nearby retirement community, with its population of 16,000 and median age of 78 years.

“Take my picture in front of it and send it to Uncle Michael!” he said as he posed by the store with a hundred well-coiffed heads. When C.J. thinks something is so fabulous that I can’t possibly appreciate it, he has me take a picture of it and text it to my brother.

I did as I was told.

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“Now, let’s go tell them I want to have my birthday party there,” he said, swiftly turning on a heel.

“Your birthday is six months away. We don’t need to go in there today. We have some time,” I said stalling. I hoped he would forget about Pauls Products and move on to the next great birthday party idea. What kid has their birthday party at a wig store?

“But, I don’t want them to get all booked up,” he worried.

“That’s not the kind of place that usually hosts birthday parties,” I said.

“They will if you ask them. Let’s go see,” he said, ever hopeful.

“I’m not going in there. It’s creepy,” Chase said.

C.J. looked at me and I could tell he wasn’t going to take no for an answer.

“If we do go in there for your birthday, we won’t be able to take a lot of people.” I was trying to manage expectations without killing hope.

“That’s okay. I just want Uncle Michael. Cause I know he’ll like it.  Oh, and Grace. Cause she’ll like it too. And Grace’s Mom cause somebody has to drive Grace.” He was counting his guests and held up his fingers to show me that that was only four people. I guess I wasn’t invited.

“I’m gonna try on so many wigs. And I’m going to buy one,” he continued.

Shit. I guessed the wigs are really expensive because they looked very nice; not $15, like the chunky, rough ones he loves to get from the costume store before Halloween.

“If I get the wig, I get to keep the head right?” he asked.

“Oh god, I hope not!” Chase said instinctively.

“No you don’t get to keep the head,” I said, like I knew what I was talking about.

“Thank god,” Chase said.

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I tried explaining that the wigs were meant to be for people losing their hair due to medical reasons or age and that they weren’t just for dressing up and playing around in.

“But wigs are for everyone,” he argued. He was using my own words against me. I’m always saying everything is for everyone. Colors, skirts, dolls, wigs.

C.J. reluctantly followed Chase and me away from Pauls Products and to the car. He kept talking about the wigs and his birthday party.

“Maybe Uncle Michael knows of a wig shop in Hollywood where we can go instead,” I offered. Wondering where my brother’s actor, performer and drag queen friends get their wigs and hairpieces.

“Do they host birthday parties at Uncle Michael’s Hollywood wig stores?” CJ asked.

I told him I’d check into it when we got back from vacation.

Two weeks later, as we walked through the front door after seven hours on airplanes and in airports, C.J. reminded me to start looking into wig stores for his birthday party.

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As I looked up the number for Pauls Products, I wondered how many other mothers had to do this for their sons.

I called Pauls Products, feeling guilty for taking up the wig store worker’s time when they could be helping someone who legitimately needed a wig.

“Hi, would I need an appointment to try on wigs at your store?” I asked very sweetly.

“No, but you have to pay five dollars for every wig you try on,” the Pauls Products employee answered.

“Do you allow children to try on wigs?”

“No.”

I was quiet, thinking about the pediatric cancer patients who may be in need of a wig, but couldn’t get one at Pauls Products. I was silently feeling sad for them.

“Okay. Kids can try on wigs, too,” they said. “But, it’s still five dollars per wig.”

They didn’t seem thrilled about having kids in their shop. I couldn’t blame them.

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Every Voice Can Be Powerful No Matter Its Volume

PFLAG Moms come in all shapes, sizes, colors, personalities, temperaments and advocacy styles. One of my all-time favorite PFLAG Moms, Lisa, has a personality and advocacy style that are quiet, gentle, kind and steady.

She’s an elementary school teacher near our home in Orange County where she runs a gender expansive classroom. Better than gender neutral environments, gender expansive environments affirm all children no matter then gender identity or gender expression and allow them to express their interests, find confidence in their strengths and expand their conventional understanding of gender.

PFLAG Mom Lisa helped me create the “Tips for Educators” found in the back of my book and which I use when I speak to youth serving professionals.

Following is a letter she wrote to our local PFLAG chapter. The letter shows Lisa’s spirit, her way of educating and that every voice can be powerful no matter its volume.

“How wonderful that no one need wait a single moment to improve the world.” — Anne Frank

I love those quizzes on Facebook. You know the ones… you answer a series of random questions and it gives you your flower, the personality you most embody, your spirit animal, etc.

For the record, I’m a sunflower, lawful good, and my spirit animal is a buffalo. They tell me what I already know about myself. I’m somewhat reserved, not a mover or a shaker, but passionate about justice, and a peacemaker. Sometimes, I wonder how to reconcile my rather sedate personality with the need to be an activist for the cause of LGBTQ equality.

Last week in the teacher’s lounge I sat with my colleagues having our leisurely 25-minute lunch break. We were talking, as we often do, about our children and what they are doing. I mentioned that my son and his boyfriend had just gone to Catalina and had a great time. A couple of my colleagues visibly twitched at the phrase “my son and his boyfriend.” One of them said that she had trouble with the whole “gay thing” because she was a Christian. I mentioned that I was Christian too. She asked respectfully, “What kind of Christian are you?” I replied, “The good kind!,” we all laughed, and that was that. There was a quiet understanding that maybe Christianity has a broader definition. There have been other conversations, and there will be more.

Each of us, living our lives and sharing our daily experiences with others, taking advantage of those “teachable moments,” is quietly making a difference. We’re helping others understand that we, and our loved ones, are not necessarily who they think we are.

Don’t get me wrong. We do need equality activism. We need strong and aggressive attorneys to fight for the civil rights of our LGBTQ loved ones in the classroom, in the workplace, on the athletic fields, and elsewhere. We need Pride Parades and rallies. But, we also need the gentle activist. It’s all necessary and important.

I know there will be many other conversations, but even that brief conversation gave my friend and other colleagues some food for thought. Living our lives without shame and having open conversations without filtering them is one way to open hearts and minds.

I’ll be marching in the Pride Parades for years to come. I’ll be walking at the AIDS Walks. But, I’ll also continue to have lunch with my colleagues and chat about both of my kids, because it’s a good way to spend 25 minutes and begin to change the world.

I may not be a rose and my spirit animal is not a lion, but I’ll embrace my inner sunflower and know that quietly proud can sometimes get the job done.

PFLAG Mom Lisa

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Raising My Rainbow….In Italy!!!!

I’ve been a wee bit massively busy lately, as you may have noticed. C.J. and Chase’s last day of school is today, my day job is busier than usual and I’ve been working on a side project that I can’t wait to tell you about some day. Don’t you hate it with people vaguely allude to exciting news and then reveal nothing?

Here are some things I can reveal…

Raising My Rainbow is being released today in ITALY!!!! I am not fluent in Italian, so I will not be able to read it. But, if you can, you should. Click here to order it.

Stonewall-Book-AwardThis weekend I’ll be in Las Vegas for the American Library Association’s Annual Conference, where I will be presented with the 2014 Stonewall Book Award-Israel Fishman Non-Fiction Award. I’m seriously so excited! What should I do while in Vegas? Suggestions welcome!

Last but not least, PFLAG national reblogged my Father’s Day post to their A Note To My Kid website. A Note to My Kid is a project of PFLAG National that gives parents, families, friends and allies of the LGBTQ community the opportunity to share their unconditional love, via notes, photos and videos. It’s such a touching project. Check it out and write a note to your kid.

More soon, I promise.  Maybe a photo or two from Vegas?

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This Is How A Father Should Love

When I met Matt, I wasn’t looking for a husband or father for my future children. I was 17. I was looking for a prom date.

He asked me to prom. He asked me to marry him. He asked me to start a family. I always said yes.

IMG_0242In between all of life’s milestones and years, we slowly made our life, wrote our story. We learned everything about each other. Then we learned some more. Just when we think there’s nothing left to learn, we prove ourselves wrong again.

I’ve learned that Matt was born to be a husband and father. It’s what he’s best at. And, he’s good at a lot of things. His love for Chase, C.J. and me has always been loyal, forgiving, unconditional and fierce. I’ve never met anyone who can love like Matt can.

When our youngest son started playing with dolls, wearing dresses and acting effeminate, I foolishly wondered if Matt’s love would be less for him that it was for us. Now, four years after our son picked up his first Barbie and refused to put her down, I’ve learned that C.J.’s gender nonconformity has made Matt an even better husband, father and person.

Last year at Orange County Pride, we each picked up some of those iconic Human Rights Campaign stickers — the yellow equal sign in the blue square. I used mine as a bookmark. Without saying a word and while no one was looking, Matt put his proudly on his truck’s bumper. When I saw it, my heart melted, my eyes watered and I took a picture to save on my phone forever.

“What did the guys at work say about your HRC sticker?” I asked him later. I imagined him driving his massive, lifted truck into the police department lot and possibly getting some stares or slurs. I worried that he took a stance when he didn’t really need to.

“Nobody said anything and I don’t care if they do,” he said, matter-of-factly.

We took Chase and C.J. to Disneyland on Easter Sunday. We only had 30 minutes to spare before our dinner reservations. We were trying to cut quickly across the park to ride the Matterhorn Bobsleds. We were stopped in our tracks by Mickey’s Soundsational Parade. We had to go right or go left. We had to hurry. Chase was impatient. Matt saw Ariel atop a float, headed down Main Street straight for us. He whisked C.J. up, onto his shoulders.

“You take Chase and ride The Matterhorn. I’m staying right here with C.J. so he can see the princesses. We’ll meet you at dinner,” he said.

“But…” I started to argue.

“No. Go,” Matt said, looking at the approaching princesses, not me.

IMG_8533Later he told me that C.J. screamed uncontrollably and clapped wildly as the princesses came into his view. He waved to the princesses and lost his words in the thrill of the moment. He was overcome with happiness, and so was Matt.

“You should have seen him. He was out of his mind when he saw them. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him like that. And, I’m glad it was me who was with him. Just me and him,” Matt said over dinner when the kids weren’t paying attention.

Initially, I felt a tinge of jealousy because I hadn’t been there to witness C.J.’s unbridled reaction. The jealously faded quickly. I’m glad they shared that moment, forever in their minds. A father and son and the Disney Princesses.

The four of us like to watch Modern Family together. We sat down to watch Mitch and Cam’s wedding. As they were saying their “I Dos,” I remembered something irrelevant and unimportant that I wanted to tell Matt. As I turned my head to him, he turned his head to me and asked, “Why is this making me emotional?” We watched the rest of the episode in happy, sweet silence.

Matt has learned that love is love. Between a father and his effeminate son. Between same sex partners.   Between people.

The HRC sticker on his bumper, his steadfastness in the presence of princesses, his emotions when watching two men marry, these are the little moments when I look at my husband — my hyper-masculine, jock, cop, tough-guy of a man — and think I could not have picked a better partner for life or father for my children.

Happy Father’s Day, Matt. I love you. xoxo, Lori

 

 

 

 

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Friday Fodder: Winners and More Giveaways!

On Tuesday, I gave you all the chance to win a copy of the Raising My Rainbow audiobook (released on May 27 by Audible). To enter, all you had to do was tell me something you’ve learned from my book/blog. I had a hard time picking just one winner, so I picked two. Here they are…

SamThis blog helped me become more proud of my choice to try and become a therapist with specialization in the field of gender studies. People may look at me funny when I explain that I want to work with gender creative people and people who are trying to figure out who they are, but that doesn’t matter. All that matters is that someone is out there willing to listen and offer a kind word when so many in our society are fine ignoring or chastising their fellow humans.

LauraOnly one thing I learned from your book/blog?! Finding your blog was like coming home. I struggled for so long to make sure I was being the best parent I could be to my gender creative son and your blog and book validated so many things for me. His Pre-K teachers are reading it and my parents have my copy. My Dad told me the other day that if I wasn’t planning on meeting with my son’s Kindergarten teacher to talk to her before school started that he would! You give me confidence and helped me give my son his voice.

If you didn’t win here, never fear! My two besties are hosting giveaways on their blogs. Check them out here and enter:

My other bestie (not really), Queen Latifah is hosting a giveaway of the audiobook book as well. Read the story about Raising My Rainbow on her site, at the bottom you’ll read how to enter:

In the news this week:

Last summer I had the pleasure of meeting an awesome family that has been blessed with a trans son. Watch this video about them. It’s really moving.

AGENDER: PORTRAITS OF YOUNG PEOPLE WHO IDENTIFY AS NEITHER MALE OR FEMALE, FeatureShoot.com

The Transgender Tipping Point, TIME

 

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Raising My Rainbow Audiobook Giveaway!!!!!

The audiobook version of Raising My Rainbow was released by Audible today.  Yay!

Want a free copy?  Cool, read on to learn how to enter to win.

photo-40Now, I share with you the top five things I learned while narrating the audiobook:

1.  My stomach growls.  A lot.  Loudly.  Even when I’m not hungry.  And, that’s not conducive to the recording process.   Also, the more I think about my stomach growling, the more it growls.  There might be a monster living in there.

2.  Talking for six to eight hours a day over the course of multiple days will make your head hurt worse than your throat.  Go figure.

3.  I pronounce several words incorrectly and use those words quite often when I write.  So, I had to sit and say those words over and over again until my producer got a version that was suitable for use.  No, I will not tell you what those words are.

4.  I was fighting off a cold and the sweet baristas at the nearby Starbucks introduced me to a drink called The Medicine Ball.  I dedicate the audiobook to them (and Matt and the boys and my brother and you).

5.  The “corporate headquarters” of Gretchen Christine, the company founded by Real Housewife of Orange County Gretchen Rossi are next door to the studio where I recorded.  I never saw Gretchen or Slade, try as I might.

To enter to win a copy of the Raising My Rainbow audiobook, leave a comment below telling me one thing you learned from my blog and/or book.  A winner will be announced this Friday.

And, everybody, if you are on Audible, you should totally consider writing a review for the audiobook.  Also, you do not need to have an Audible.com membership in order to buy the audiobook.

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