Our Month in Review: September 2017

Following are highlights from our month on Instagram. Click here for all of the months’ pictures, thoughts and happenings. If you’re on Instagram, follow me. If you already follow me, thanks!

 I love my brother and am so thankful for him. He watched the boys all weekend so Matt and I could sneak away to Seattle with friends. He helped Chase host a pool party, took him shopping for school supplies, got him a haircut and took him to his first high school dance. He introduced CJ to *Birdcage* and *The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert* and bought him his first curling iron. He had a pork roast and mashed potatoes waiting for us when we got home. I learned how to parent an LGBTQ child by watching my parents raise Michael and doing the opposite of what they did. Matt and I aren’t alone in raising our boys; Uncle Michael is with us every step of the way. He loves the boys, he worries about them, celebrates them and spoils them. The boys see him as equal parts fun parent and loyal best friend. If you don’t have an Uncle Michael in your life, you should get one.

 

“David was threatening because it was a different consciousness. Whatever you want to call it — the feminization of the male or whatever it was — us boy/girls were a threat.” — Mick Rock, David Bowie’s official photographer. Matt and I visited the Museum of Pop Culture while in Seattle this weekend. The “Bowie by Mick Rock” exhibit was my favorite. I read this quote over and over. Back then, boy/girls were a threat. Today boy/girls are a threat. When will boy/girls stop being a threat?

First writing prompt of the 5th grade: How would you spend one million dollars? “I would love to spend one million $. First, I would travel. I would travel to Hawaii and New York City. Next, I would spend some money on clothes, such as designer bags and designer hats. Finally, I would go shopping. I would buy a curling iron and a lot of makeup. I would love to spend a million $.” (By CJ, age 10) Please note: The paragraph was written before Uncle Michael bought him his first curling iron. So, CJ’s dreams are already coming true.

 

“A bunch of people ask me how I can possibly be so awesome. I tell them, ‘in the words of Lady Gaga, I was born this way’.” — CJ, age 10. For the record, I’ve never heard anyone, let alone “a bunch” of people, ask him how he can possibly be so awesome. But I’m glad he has a standard answer, I guess.

 

CJ scored these roller skates last time we went antiquing. Like every 10-year-old boy, antiquing is one of his favorite weekend activities. He felt that $12 was a steal for these skates because – according to the label – they are “official roller derby skates.” $12 is a good price for anything that’s “official,” he told me. When I was CJ’s age, one of my favorite weekend activities was getting my brother and his boom box out to the front yard so we could choreograph roller skating routines like we were in Xanadu. #likeunclelikenephew

 

“Mom, I’m going to do this to you and two of your girlfriends. You just all sit close together and I’m gonna braid your hair together in one big braid. It will be fun and awesome.” — CJ, age 10
 

“Don’t worry, mom. I already warned my teacher that if I’m tired today it’s because I was at a music video premiere at the YouTube Space in LA last night,” CJ.

 

CJ is the biggest fan of his own fashion designs. To make your own pair of “gay shorts inspired by the boys who were at pride,” cut off a pair of jeans, hem them, add some embroidery detail and attach suspenders. Voila! Then, try to wear them every day and have an attitude when your mom says you can’t.

Be courageous.

 

 

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Things Not To Yell At A Football Game

C.J. and I have been going to a lot of football games lately. Us! At football games! I know, right?!

We go to support our favorite player, Chase, who is now a football-playing high schooler*.

There we sit in the stands – C.J. sandwiched between Matt and I.

Matt is good at watching football. C.J. and I are not.

Matt yell-cheers things like “Come on D!” and “Look for the hole!” while I laugh at the sexual undertones. Then, he tells me to grow up.

I don’t know what to yell-cheer. So mostly I don’t. But every once in a while the urge comes over me.

Like, when one of our players gets the ball and starts running for a touchdown.

“RUN!” I yell-cheered when it happened at the last game. “RUN! RUN!

The player must have heard me yell-cheering because, sure as shit, he kept running. I saw a player from the other team getting dangerously close to him.

“DON’T GET HURT!” I yell-cheered even louder and with an extreme sense of urgency.

Matt whipped his head in my direction.

“Did you really just yell that?” he asked.

“Yeah. I didn’t want him to get hurt.”

Matt said that’s not a good thing to yell-cheer during a football game. So I had to scratch that off my list of possible yell-cheers.

Our player didn’t get hurt. Instead, he got a touchdown and the stands went wild (as much as they do at freshman football games).

“Did we get a homerun?!” C.J. asked. Matt put his head in his hands. C.J. will never remember that football has touchdowns and baseball has homeruns.

C.J. fills some of his football spectating time reading People magazine because it arrives in the mail on Thursdays and Chase’s games are on Thursdays – it’s like it’s meant to be. Last year, C.J.’s teacher told him that he needs to read more nonfiction. People magazine is his preferred nonfiction reading material.

I make him watch the game whenever Chase is playing.

“Chase is going in,” I say and nudge him.

“What number is he?” he asks.

“Number 59,” I say.

(Three minutes later.)

“Chase is going in,” I say and nudge him.

“What number is he?” he asks.

“Number 59,” I say.

That goes on all game long. Matt scoots a little further away from us.

We’ve been to about five games so far and I always manage to yell something that I guess I’m not supposed to yell.

Most recently it was “RUN!!!” followed by “BE CAREFUL WITH HIS KNEES!! THEY DON’T BEND THAT WAY!!!”

Then, a dad yell-cheered “IF THE QUARTERBACK CANT THROW THE BALL PUT HIM IN A CHEERLEADER UNIFORM AND LET HIM CHEER ON THE SIDELINES WITH THE GIRLS!!!”

C.J. and I looked at Matt wide-eyed and horrified.

“Oh, and he’s allowed to yell that?!” I asked. I try not to sit by that dad now.

The first few games, C.J. would watch the cheerleaders flip and do acrobatics while saying under his breath “I can do that” and the ever-humble “I can do that better.” In true C.J.-style, he’s made friends with a handful of the cheerleaders and is now convinced they are cheering specifically for his enjoyment. They call out for him by name when he arrives at the games (with the latest People Magazine and an iced tea in hand). He sits and smiles and waves at them as they do cheers and wiggles his body in a way that tells me he knows the cheer routines and is holding back from doing them along with the cheer team. I don’t think he can hold back for much longer.

When Chase first started playing football during summer break a co-worker asked me what position he plays and my response was “well…he’s not the runner or the thrower.”

I realized that I needed to learn more about Chase’s new sport. Now, I know he plays defensive tackle and offensive tackle.

C.J.’s hobbies and passions are easy for me know about and be supportive of because they are typically things I was or am currently drawn to.

I have to try a little harder with Chase. I like trying. Chase is a source of constant wonder for me. I’ve never witnessed a cisgender straight boy grow into a man. He likes things that I know nothing about, which means I get to learn along with him or have him teach me. All while mothering him, guiding him and worrying about him every freaking minute of every damn day.

“Did you see that play?!” Matt asks.

“No, I told you, when Chase is playing I have to laser focus in on his head to watch for traumatic brain injuries,” I say.

Chase is still my little preemie baby, even though he’s taller than me and my head rests on his shoulder when he hugs me.

“I like watching you play,” I tell him.

“Thanks, Ma. I like having you there,” he says.

If only he knew the embarrassing things I yell-cheer in the stands.

*Sit down in advance if you are going to tell me how awful high school football is. It is one of the activities Chase wants to participate in and we support him in his passions the way we support C.J.

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An Interview with Matt and Our Month in Review: August 2017

Following are highlights from our month on Instagram. Click here for all of the months’ pictures, thoughts and happenings. If you’re on Instagram, follow me. If you already follow me, thanks!

“There’s nothing negative about the way C.J. is. He’s not dysphoric, searching for some answer. He’s super happy just being himself. I told Lori we were going to raise C.J. the same way we raised Chase — instilling the same values and virtues — but that we would follow his lead and love him no matter what. I was like, ‘If he loves Barbies, let’s give him Barbies. If he loves wearing dresses, let’s buy him dresses’,” Matt in an interview with MEL Magazine. Click here to read it.

 

He had a bad day and needed to go for a walk “to gather himself.” I walked with him. Eventually he told me the top three things that were bothering him.
1. Someone ate the last of his Pringles.
2. He felt like he wasn’t very helpful in the escape room we did.
3. He’s sad that some parents don’t love their kids anymore when they come out as LGBTQ.
Those are some big problems for a 10 year old. And, that last one, is rough on a person no matter their age.

When CJ told me one of the things bothering him (see previous pic/post) was that some parents reject their kids for being LGBTQ, this quote kept looping through my head. It’s exactly how I feel about CJ, Chase and Matt. It’s how every parent should feel about their LGBTQ child. And they should communicate it clearly in words and actions. Everyone should feel that a handful of people — or, at the very least, a parent — would choose them.

 

Channel your inner CJ today. Say “Yaaaaas Qweeeeen” when your boss asks you to do something. Say “water off a ducks back” and flick your wrist and roll your eyes when someone says something rude to you. Eat ice cream for lunch and pickles for dinner. Create something fantastic. Be in bed with a good book by 9 pm. Live that CJ life.

 

Another week of sewing camp all stitched up. “My teacher really had her hands full this week! There were so many girls who had never sewed before. This one girl kept saying her sewing machine was broken and I was all ‘Gurl. You’re machine is not broken. Here, let me thread it for you.’ Then I helped every girl thread her machine. I’m basically the teacher’s aide and should get paid $10 for the week.”

 

Flashbacking to little CJ this Friday. He’s werking and twerking on his first day of preschool. While I love the pose in this pic, I can only focus on his polo shirt’s pink stripe. Why? Because he wanted a pink shirt from the girls section and I wouldn’t buy it. He was four and I was struggling with his gender expression. I was afraid that the start of school would bring the start of bullying. So I forced him to focus on and get excited about the pink stripe on his polo shirt. Now, looking back from where I am today, I get mad at myself and feel bad for CJ when I look at this pic. He was four years old. It was the toughest age for a lot of reasons. The terrible twos are nothing. Nobody talks about the fucking fours. And, when CJ was four, we were at the height of our struggle with his gender identity and gender expression. Schools starting. If your boy wants a pink shirt, get it. Don’t settle for a pink stripe.

 

You’re looking at proof that I’m a good mom and my kids are reaching age appropriate milestones. CJ (age 10) can now flat iron my hair for me while I look at my phone. I’ve dreamt of this day. I’ve been waiting to write the date in his baby book. Today is the day. August 14, 2017. #neverforget #mommingsohard #momlife

 

Backseat confessions on the way home from gymnastics practice.

 

Matt: CJ, this is the church where your mom and I got married. Stand in front of it so I can send her a pic at work.

 

Me from the Nordstrom shoe dept: Where are you?
Matt: We are in the makeup department. A great guy saw CJ looking at the makeup and I told him that CJ is in to makeup and wants to be a makeup artist. He is giving CJ a free makeover.

Upon seeing my third grade school picture…
CJ: Mom! You were gender nonconforming, too?!
Me: No.
CJ: Then why are you wearing a tie?
Me: Because it made me feel powerful. I wanted to be a successful businesswoman and that was my “power suit.”
When I wore that outfit I always got compliments. People said I looked smart and like a boss. Why? Because masculinity in females is seen as a strength. But, femininity in males is seen as a weakness. So, CJ doesn’t get the same kind of praise when he wears a skirt….even though that’s the clothing that makes him feel powerful.

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Inside the Mind of a Gender Creative Boy

I hear from a lot of adults raising gender expansive four and five year olds. The adults are typically stressed, confused, lonely and scared. I get it. I’ve been there. Ages four and five were the toughest for us in terms of parenting a gender expansive child. I tell families that it gets better once the child can communicate his/her thoughts and feelings. Like, now, with C.J. being 10 years old and getting ready to start fifth grade, if I have a question about him, I can ask him and he can answer. I asked C.J. what he remembers thinking and feeling when he was four and five years old and I wrote it all down. I’m hoping that sharing C.J.’s memories below might help families currently wondering and/or struggling. xoxo, Lori

(By: C.J., age 10, August 2017)

When I was two years old I kind of liked cars and knights and stuff because that’s all the toys we had. When I got closer to three years old, I started to like pink, purple and princesses. By the time I was four years old, I liked everything girl stuff. I really liked the way girls’ hair and dresses moved.

In preschool and kindergarten, I got the hint that I wasn’t like other boys my age. They would wear superhero stuff and I would wear clothes that were more feminine. I even wore Little Mermaid pajamas on pajama day and a Monster High costume on Halloween.

At that time I don’t think I really cared what other kids thought about me. When you’re in preschool and kindergarten and you’re different, the other kids don’t really care as much. My mom says I used to ask every morning if I was going to get bullied at school, but I don’t remember that. My mom says it’s good to forget stuff sometimes.

Back when I was four and five years old, I used to tell my parents that I wanted to be a girl. I never said I was a girl. I just said I wanted to be a girl. Because then I could like all of the stuff and hobbies and clothes that I liked and nobody would care or give me a hard time about it.

I used to draw myself as a girl. This summer, I went through my drawings from kindergarten and in all of them I had long ponytails and dresses on. It surprised me when I saw that. When I saw those drawings, it made me realize how fast people can forget things they did. I’m going into fifth grade now and that was just back in kindergarten.

I guess I do remember wanting to be a girl if I think about it really hard, but I don’t want to be a girl anymore. I want to be me. Just me. I’m a gender creative boy. I’m a boy who likes girl stuff. I don’t even like calling it girl stuff and boy stuff. There shouldn’t be girl stuff and boy stuff; it’s all just stuff.

Sometimes I don’t feel safe at school and other times I do feel safe. I don’t feel safe at school when I’m in the bathroom or when the fire alarms go off. I also don’t like being alone. I don’t feel safe in the bathroom because the boys just pee everywhere and they aren’t as neat and tidy as the girls. I’m more neat and tidy like the girls. I always go in the stalls, even if I’m going pee. That makes me feel more secure.

I feel like I’m a different type of boy. But I’m a boy for sure. I like both male and female pronouns. I don’t really care which ones people use when they talk about me. I feel like pronouns are no big deal. Pronouns are not important to me, rainbows are important to me. My mom says different things are important to different people.

People who are LGBTQ are important. That’s a fact. People who are different are very important because they are people, but not everybody sees them that way.

My mom and dad used to sometimes think I was transgender – a girl born in a boy’s body. They even thought about letting me transition to being a girl when I was littler. That doesn’t bother me because I know I’d be a boy now.

I don’t think it’s possible that I’m transgender because I really like how I am. I’m happy with myself.

My mom and dad tell me that some parents with kids who are four and five years old are really stressed out because they have gender creative kids and they don’t know what to do. I would tell those parents to just relax and let your kid be who they are. And, let them know that you love them no matter what. That’s what my parents tell me.

If I could talk to myself when I was four years old, I would tell myself “don’t transition, because you are going to like who you are when you’re older. You can like girl stuff without being a girl. You can just be you.”

But if a kid is transgender, their parents need to let their kid decide who they are and follow their kid’s lead. If your kid is transgender, let them transition. Let them be who they are.

Sometimes it’s hard being a transgender kid or gender creative kid because you’ve got to take a lot of time to figure things out.

I think overall parents need to do a lot of relaxing.

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Our Month(s) in Review: June and July 2017

Following are highlights (lowlights not included!) from our months on Instagram. Click here for all of the months’ pictures, thoughts and happenings. If you’re on Instagram, follow me. If you already follow me, thanks!

C.J. leaves this message wherever he can. Here, he wrote it in chalk on the floor of a busy restaurant that encourages patrons of all ages to draw on the floor. Every time he leaves his “be yourself” message out in public, part of me thinks that someone who needs the message will happen upon it after we leave. But, most of all, I hope that C.J. always feels pride when it comes to the things that make him different and that he’ll always feel brave enough to be himself.

 

With no summer camp this week, my son has spent a lot of time drawing his favorite superheroes.

 

Serving everyone the “Pride Eye.” According to C.J., his “Pride Eye” look is inspired by the colors he saw at Pride this year, cotton candy, unicorns, love and happiness.

 

Sometimes, to celebrate the end of a rough week, you find the closest Pride, buy two train tickets, travel two hours and then…you march.

 

“What should I do now?,” C.J. asks at least once a day because he knows if he tells me he’s bored I’ll tell him only boring people can be bored. “Why don’t you sew something? The machine is out,” I said the other day. At age 10, he knows his way around the machine just as well as I do. He made this skirt in an afternoon.

 

This week C.J. added contortionist to the list of things he wants to be when he grows up. We encourage and empower young girls. We tell them they can be whatever they want to be when they grow up. Make sure we do the same for boys. C.J.’s list of future professions includes: artist, makeup artist, drag queen, Olympic gymnast, hair stylist, contortionist, RuPaul’s Drag Race judge, AGT judge, Cupcake Wars judge.

 

It’s C.J.’s last day of sewing camp. He made lots of friends and lots of drag queens. Here’s his felt Sasha Velour. The employees at our local Joann’s Store were so supportive and encouraging of C.J. – who was the only boy enrolled in sewing camp. They told him that they see a future for him on Project Runway. They were even more complimentary of Matt, who took C.J. into the store an hour before each day of camp to pick out new fabric, notions and patterns. “It’s so great to see a dad in here buying fabric for his son and encouraging him to sew. A lot of dads wouldn’t do that,” they said to Matt. They’re right and I’m glad they gave Matt the kudos he deserves. He’s the best dad. (But, this also got me thinking, how come I’ve been celebrated for taking Chase shopping at a sporting goods store?)

 

I spoke at Aetna today about raising a gender creative child. The Q&A session that followed was the most emotional I’ve experienced in a while. It was a reminder that you never know what the other people in the room or your co-workers are going through. Be nice to people, listen and practice empathy.

 

This week C.J. is the only boy at sewing camp. He’s also the only one who made a Violet Chachki hand puppet.

 

Yesterday I spent the afternoon speaking at the Orange County Bar Association about raising a gender creative child and provided thoughts and guidance for interacting with children of all gender identities and expressions. What a great group of caring and inquisitive people!

 

C.J.’s perfect summer day includes having his three best girl friends over to jump on the trampoline, swim and do makeup. “Let me show you a trick I learned from drag queens,” I heard him say several times during their makeup session.

 

I was cooking dinner and noticed I was all alone downstairs and the house had grown very quiet. Then, Matt texted me this pic from upstairs. C.J. had been doing makeup all weekend. Just when he thought he was running out of willing faces, he asked Matt. And, Matt said yes. Like he always does.

 

And, yes, I absolutely did immediately come to the defense of women everywhere and make it very clear that women are strong and fierce protectors. It didn’t matter. He still wants a husband instead of a wife.

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Matt and I Speak Out After James Woods Ruthlessly Attacks Our Son

In recent years, James Woods has traded in tackling prime roles in critically-acclaimed films to gleefully play the part of a smugly menacing public nuisance on social media.

He’s been called “President Obama’s biggest, most famous troll on Twitter,” and now, he’s terrorizing the family of a gender nonconforming child. — HuffPost

That gender nonconforming child is our son. We are that family.

Rather than retreating and/or ignoring the barrage of hate that followed Wood’s tweet, Matt and I chose to speak to HuffPost about what we’ve experienced over the past several days. Click here for the interview.

If you choose not to click through or read the entire interview, at least read the following excerpt about the support we’ve received — because it’s been amazing. People Magazine also did a short interview, click here to read it.

What kind of support have you received?
Matt: We have received a lot of support from our friends and family. Anybody who knows us knows that we have an awesome support system. It goes to show that you don’t cultivate relationships with quality people for the good times. You do it for the hard times. That’s when true friends step up, support and encourage you. They remind you that you’re doing the right things for your children. I expected my friends and family to be there for us, I wasn’t expecting the outpouring of encouragement and love from the public and celebrities.

Lori: This incident has shown us that the village we are lucky enough to be a part of will assemble at a moment’s notice to support and protect us. We’ve had close friends and mere acquaintances reach out to us and defend us. They offered to help us in any way they can and have made good on their offers. The LGBTQ community was also swift to be by our side. We’ve been in constant communication with the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) since the tweet. I’ve seen firsthand how quickly and powerfully HRC can mobilize to provide support, a listening ear and sound advice. It’s amazing. PFLAG has also been checking on us throughout the day and offering help. Members of the LGBTQ community who are strangers to us have offered support and encouragement.

And all of the people and organizations that have contacted us have always been – first and foremost ― concerned for our safety and wellbeing. And, then, there are the celebrities who came to our defense. When Neil Patrick Harris replied to Woods’ tweet, I was speechless. As a parent, when someone comes to your child’s defense, the positive emotion is overwhelming. With Neil being who he is and having the audience he does, that positive emotion was multiplied. We are so thankful for his tweet and support. When other celebrities started retweeting Neil’s tweet, it felt like this big, powerful, loving, supportive army had assembled in front of us and we could take a moment to catch our breath.

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My Gender Creative Son’s First Pride

Just a boy and his two best girl friends marching at Pride.

“That was one of the best days of my life. Thank you so much for taking me,” C.J. said as Matt tucked him into bed for the night.

Most kids say that to their parents after a day at an amusement park. Not our kid. He said it after we took him to his first Pride.

On Wednesday, we told C.J. that we were taking him to the local Pride on Saturday. His level of excitement was unprecedented. He’d seen pictures of Pride and, with all the visual rainbow-ness, he’d been asking to go for the last year.

I told him that we needed to make signs. We did need signs, but mostly it was a project to keep him busy for a few summer hours.

C.J’s sign

Matt’s sign

My sign

The night before Pride, C.J. laid out his outfit. He woke up at the crack of dawn the next day to get ready. And, even though we didn’t plan to leave the house until 10:15 a.m., he started contouring his face at 8 a.m.

We arrived before the parade got started and, admittedly, the vibe wasn’t initially all rainbows and glitter. The parade got a late start and, from where we were sitting, C.J. couldn’t see the festival area I told him about. He was a little worried that he’d gotten his Pride hopes up too high.

He watched the parade pass by. As with all new things, he observed quietly before letting himself go and clapping and jumping for the goodies being thrown by the parade participants. As the parade ended, we followed it to the festival.

“I loved the parade. I wish it was longer. And next year I want to be in it for sure. Who knows, I may even be in drag in the parade next year,” C.J. said as we walked.

The festival was everything C.J. hoped it would be and then some. There were free things, candy, games and contests. He also noticed that there were a lot of condoms. C.J. was also a big hit at the festival.

Hula hooping to earn a bag of candy from Kimpton Hotels.

“People kept stopping me saying ‘always be who you are. Never change. You’re so awesome.’ And, I took so many pictures with people,” he said smiling.

My sweet, fabulous, rainbow boy has never received so many compliments. He’s used to getting stares and whispers when we’re out in public. He’s not used to getting the smiles, hugs and encouragement he received at Pride.

The cotton candy lady hooked him up with rainbow cotton candy bigger than his head sprinkled with edible gold glitter.

When it was time to go, he didn’t want to leave and offered to stay at Pride by himself. He said he would ride home in a taxi. We said no.

We stopped to eat on the way to our car and I asked C.J. what he liked best about Pride.

“I liked the vibe. I liked all the colors. But, most of all, I liked all of the people. Nobody judges anybody. You can just be who you want to be. There should be Pride every week, because it’s so much fun,” he explained.

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