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.

About raisingmyrainbow

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

  1. ettinacat says:

    My brother turned out straight, but it’s possible if he were gay he’d have been like that. We always made it clear that he could be interested in girls or boys. And then when he got old enough, he said he was only attracted to girls. So he kind of ‘came out’ as straight.
    Meanwhile, my orientation is something my parents and I hadn’t even heard of (asexual). But I was really open with them, so they pretty much found out what I was the same time I did.

  2. 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.

  3. Pingback: Come Out Of The Closet Son…Then Go Back In… | Raising My Rainbow

  4. 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.

  5. Pingback: Realisation: we never stop coming out. « A Summer Full Of Peaches

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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?

  9. 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

  10. 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!

  11. 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!

  12. 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.”

  13. Mel Bowman says:

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

  14. 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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  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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. 🙂

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

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