Last October my effeminate three-year-old son wanted to be Snow White for Halloween. I Googled a bunch of random phrase combos, trying to fit a life dilemma into a search bar. Boys dressing as girls for Halloween. My son wants to be a princess for Halloween. Boys as Snow White. Boys as Disney Princesses. Should I let my three-year-old be Snow White for Halloween. Gender-neutral Halloween costumes.
Not much turned up with those search terms. I got search happy. Boys playing with girls toys. Boys dressing as girls. Boys liking girls things. What are the chances of an effeminate boy growing up to be gay? Little gay boys.
I gave up Google and moved to parenting sites and mom blogs. There weren’t sections within the parenting sites that I visited or dedicated mom blogs for people like me raising a child like mine. I desperately wanted to connect and get some answers.
Nerdy Applebottom published her infamous “My Son is Gay” post about her son being Daphne for Halloween. I got excited. Then she went back to writing content more typical of a general mom blog. But, I wanted more about Boo. I felt like I was so close to finding a mom and child and blog that I could relate to. Enough waiting and searching, I’d be that blogger I’d been looking for.
So, my Christmas gift to myself and 2011 New Year’s Resolution was to journal about the adventures in raising a slightly effeminate, possibly gay, totally fabulous son. As a new year launched, so did RaisingMyRainbow.com.
I started RaisingMyRainbow.com for myself. To record my feelings and experiences, like any blogger, but not to rant or stand on a cyber-soapbox or be sensationalistic.
I started it for any other person in a situation similar to mine, raising a gender nonconforming son. There had to be more of us out there, right? Right?! We need support, to hear other people’s stories and know that we aren’t alone.
And, I started it in hopes that I would draw the LBGTQ audience, because they are the ones who have the answers to a lot of my questions about raising a child like mine. Like: When did you know you were different? When did you know you were gay? Did you do this? Did you do that? How did your parents treat you? How do you wish they would have treated you? How did your peers treat you? What can I do for my son that you wish someone would have done for you?
My audience wasn’t everybody. I understood that. I’ve heard from people who aren’t comfortable with my blog. But for every one email of opposition, I get about a dozen of support.
When I started writing I knew I had an effeminate son. I didn’t know that I had a gender creative, gender nonconforming, gender variant son. I wasn’t hip to the lingo. A few weeks in I learned that.
Although I knew the difference between gender and sexuality, I had it reinforced by readers time and time again. I still do. I don’t mind. Have I considered that C.J. is transgender? Sure, I’ve considered it a lot actually. It’s hard to see a four-year-old boy in a cheerleader skirt waving pom-poms and not consider it. Go ahead, try. For now, he identifies mostly as a boy.
Early on, people started sending me research, links to articles and videos that they thought I’d find interesting and they started sending mail to C.J. A dialogue started that spans 45 countries. As it happened, I realized something that I had never thought about before. All over the world, there are families raising gender nonconforming kids. The next generation of the LGBTQ community is being raised, right now. And, you know us parents, the ones raising that next generation of the LGBTQ community? We have no idea what we’re doing. As is the case with most parents. Some have assembled around my blog and some have emailed me. The joys and struggles that come with raising a possibly LGBTQ child are much the same, whether you live in Untied States, Ireland or Dubai. I didn’t realize that until I was about six months into blogging.
At about the six month mark, too, the hate mail nearly stopped. I had prepared myself for it to only increase with time. But, the opposite happened. I think that there are three reasons for this. The first is that I think people got the sense that I wasn’t going away. They were right. The second is that I think people saw, in the comments at the end of each post, that I have a huge amount of support. They were right. And, lastly, I think that if people read even one blog post they saw that I love my child and I’m just trying to parent in the best, healthiest, most loving way possible. They were right again. From time to time people will ask why I don’t approve negative comments to be published on my blog. I would, if there were any. Hate speech, profanities, bullying and foul comments wouldn’t see the light of day. But, constructive criticism, opposing views and uneducated opinions would be there for all to see, if there were any.
I’m a little Type A, if you haven’t noticed. So I wrote a plan for my blog before I started it. My plan was to publish two blog posts a week. Monday’s blog post would be the meatier of the two. Thursday’s post would be brief. I’ve stuck to my schedule pretty well considering that I have a job, two active kids, a husband, friends, hobbies and a life. But, at times, it has been tiresome. This is my 100th post. Cheers!
It has been an amazing year of learning. We’ve learned a lot about ourselves and our sons. We’ve learned that for the safety of our family, we may have to distance ourselves from certain types of people. We’ve learned who our real allies are, the people who will, no matter what, support us and join us as we take our journey and raise a gender nonconforming, possibly LGBTQ son. Most importantly, we’ve learned that we aren’t alone. We began having play dates with other gender creative families. I’ve built relationships with moms who traveled this path and are a little further down the road than I am and are now raising amazing young adults. I’ve reconnected with people from my past who were struggling with their gender identification and sexuality before my very eyes, without me or our peers knowing.
I’ve seen the kind of father my husband is and have been amazed. Raising a child like C.J. can tear marriages apart, but, I can say that, after this year, I’ve never felt more secure and confidant in my marriage and the man I picked to spend the rest of my life with. I’ve seen our older son start to “get it,” and start down the path of being a really cool person who has an open heart and open mind. He’s a person who knows compassion, understanding, tolerance and, most of all, fun. He gets things that a lot of members of his peer group aren’t even aware of yet. In some ways he’s years ahead with his innocence still intact. I can’t wait to see who he becomes.
During the last year we’ve entered the warm embrace of the LGBTQ community and the community of families who are or have raised a gender creative child. That warm embrace feels good, it feels like home.
We’ve learned the deadliness of gossip and how it can poison good things. We’ve learned that prejudice can breed prejudice and work every day to teach our children to be tolerant, even when the favor isn’t returned.
One question that I do get a lot, still, is people wondering what I’m going to tell C.J. about the blog when he gets older. In short: everything. I’ve written every post with him in mind. I’m glad that I’ve encouraged myself to record the happenings of his fourth year. These are stories that entertained you and I hope that he holds them dear to his heart someday. More than that, I have other cool stuff to show him, like hundreds and hundreds of emails of support and some emails from people whose lives we’ve changed. Parents who gave up struggling over gender and, instead, choose to simply love their child, no questions asked. That is one of my proudest achievement of 2011.