Reflections: Raising My Rainbow Turns One

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

I started 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.

About raisingmyrainbow is a blog about the adventures in raising a fabulous, gender creative son.
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69 Responses to Reflections: Raising My Rainbow Turns One

  1. Paul Phillip says:

    I’m doing research and this site popped up. It makes this question prominently in my mind: What if the child is not gay, the mother tells the world he is basically gay, and now as the child grows in awareness as a teenager/adult by chance he isn’t gay is now forced to believe he is gay because, well, of how his entire childhood is documented (for life) on the internet as gay. I think this blog is important and helpful to parents trying to let their children grow up and be happy, but don’t you feel there could be also negative effects? Prevented job opportunities and confusion in individualism? I played My Little Pony’s and dollhouse with my 3 bigger sisters but I am not gay. If my parents lived in a digital culture as we did today and blogged the same way you are now I would have to say I would be more confused then confident in who I am reflecting on what I was like younger. All I am pointing out is – let the child be who he/she is but don’t forget how his employers 20 years from now with better technologies will easily find this archived blog in search results…

  2. Colleen says:

    Thank you for writing this blog. I have have only recently discovered you but have spent the past week devouring every post. I am your target audience – a lesbian mom raising 2 sons, one of whom is gender creative. He’ll be 6 this spring and he parallels CJ in so many ways. Some people may think it is easier raising a gender creative child if you are part of the LGBT community but it’s not. Like any parent, I want my child to be accepted, be safe, and be free to be himself and it’s a fine balancing act to figure it all out. Thank you for lettting me know that I and my wife are not alone.

  3. Taylor says:

    I think this world is to focoused on the right way instead of the wrong way……By the way the person that I commented on that was because had had no Idea were to post a commenet til now so sorry. but anyway being Gay is not a bad thing no matter what the bible says. being gay is more then what any book could say. you dont knnow what it feels like inless you are gay yourself. so thank you for everyone who says being a rainbow is okay,

  4. Thanks for update, keep up the good work!! Love the blog you are posted.

    • Taylor says:

      I really injoy this site. not caring that your son might be gay, trans, sraight, bi, or all in the world makes me really happy that you are the # 1 mom in the world.
      Love 15 years old Taylor Mulvey, I am gay. and proud.

  5. katierannou says:

    oh my goodness, i have had a smile on my face (and occasionally tears in my eyes) as i have read each of your posts. you are such an amazingly supportive mom, and it sounds like your family is providing such an amazing environment in which c.j. can grow to be exactly who he is supposed to be. it is a rarity, and though i don’t have children of my own yet, i have seen the reverse with several of my students’ parents, and it is so detrimental to their children. your open-mindedness is so refreshing and beautiful!

  6. Jo says:

    I’m so happy I found your blog, although it was by pure accident! Our kids sound a lot alike. My son is 3 yrs old and loves many of the same things yours does and we have not known how to approach it, but so far we are just letting him do his thing and we don’t make a big deal out of it. I am going to go back and read all your posts for some insight now!

  7. mzvehrzed says:

    Your blog alone is truly beautiful and inspiring. I hope that other mothers/parents who are aware yet unaware at the same time that their child is non conforming will read this and be inspired and have the ability to find the strength, love & get the support they need as you & your family have. It’s a beautiful thing. I’m glad you decided to keep blogging btw otherwise I never would have came across this. Your 1st blog, about his ballet/tap class literally made my heart smile. Keep up the great work!! 🙂

  8. Sarah says:

    I was “accused” of being a lesbian my entire life, and it honestly never bothered me because of who my parents are and how they raised me. They just saw me as a tomboy and loved me.

    And while I’m so glad they didn’t take me to a therapist to talk about my gender nonconforming (would have mortified me), I can tell you’re doing what you feel is best for C.J. and that is what counts. He’s lucky to have you.

    Cheers to you!

  9. I wish I had a mom like you. Keep being an inspiration to your wonderful child!

  10. megalagom says:

    I just found this blog and I have to say that this post has me almost in tears. It is beautiful. What you are doing, how supportive you are, how understanding and the way you seem to have touched the community around you is magical, irreversible, and important. I wish that all parents could be like you or learn from you. You and your family are special. Thank you for making this blog and I hope you keep it up. ❤

  11. Sara says:

    You are absolutely awesome for doing this. I love that you pulled together the courage and the wherewithal to put this incredible blog out there. I’m so excited to read this and I look forward to your future postings. Thank you!

  12. Pingback: Day 251 Risk: Try Something New At Work « Little D, Big Year

  13. The Hook says:

    Happy Anniversary! Here’s to another great year!

  14. Felisha says:

    You, and we, in turn, are being the change!

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