“Where are you going for your birthday party?” one of C.J.’s girl friends asked him while they were play-dating at our house the week before his birthday.
“West Hollywood,” he said casually, as if every second-grader in Orange County knows what and where West Hollywood is.
“What’s that?” she asked.
“That’s where they have lots of gay people and people like me,” he explained. “I’m going to wear a skirt there and they won’t even laugh at me.”
“Cool,” his friend said as she smiled and nodded, even though I could tell that she had no idea what he was talking about.
Six months prior, C.J. decided that he wanted to have his birthday at a wig store. I thought for sure he’d change his mind, because he does that a lot.
But, he repeatedly mentioned it and by November, I knew that I had to try to make it happen. So, I enlisted the help of my brother, Michael, who lives in West Hollywood, and gave him a list of things that C.J. wanted to do in celebration of his eighth birthday.
- Go shopping for toys
- Go to lunch
- Try on wigs
- See the rainbow sidewalks (which I told him existed in West Hollywood)
- Eat pink cupcakes
On the morning of C.J.’s birthday party day, we woke up and drove 30 minutes to my best friend Marie’s house to pick up her and her two daughters (the dads stayed home to work). Her daughter Grace is four weeks older than C.J. and they are besties through and through. If you need proof, you can read their matching shirts that say “I heart my bestie.” Marie’s daughter Kate is one of Chase’s best friends despite her being three years older than he is. They share a love of bacon, Modern Family and making each other laugh.
We took the kids to the Toys R Us near Marie’s house to check “go shopping for toys” off of C.J.’s birthday party to-do list. C.J. selected some Shopkins, a Monster High pen and a Ballerina marionette.
An hour later, we were in West Hollywood greeting Uncle Michael and six of his closest friends at The Abbey – which has twice been voted the best gay bar in the world and was Elizabeth Taylor’s favorite pub. Rest assured that at noon on a Saturday, the crowd was tame and family friendly.
We were escorted to a secluded table on the patio and C.J. promptly handed out pink mardi gras beads to his guests (no flashing required). Because they were sitting across from me and next to each other, Uncle Michael helped C.J. decide what to eat. Imagine my surprise when C.J. ordered Nutella crepes for lunch.
After lunch, the 13 of us (three straight females, six gay men and four children – for the sake of setting the scene) walked in parade fashion up Santa Monica Blvd. to the crosswalks painted rainbow. We crossed the street taking pictures all the way. Then, we turned around and crossed again. Then again. Then again. People took pictures of us taking pictures of ourselves.
We paraded back to our car and drove to the wig store of Uncle Michael’s choosing. Though they didn’t seem excited to see us rush into their store initially, the staff of three joined our party when they realized that we were celebrating a unique boy who likes wigs and falls more than just about anything else. Every member of the group chose one wig to try on. When C.J. fell in love with a fall that matched his one-of-a-kind hair color perfectly, I bought it for him and he wore it out of the store and the rest of the day.
At a neighboring toy and costume store, C.J. carefully deliberated which souvenir Oscar to award himself. Eventually, he bypassed the awards for “Best Diva” and “Drama Queen” for a win in the “Best Son” category.
“Because don’t you think I’m a better son than diva and drama queen?” he asked me looking for reassurance. I agreed.
Back at Uncle Michael’s place, we ate pink cupcakes, opened presents and sang along to popular Disney tunes that were blasting.
C.J. fell asleep on the way home — as he always does after a long, fun day in West Hollywood.
“That was the best birthday party! I’m going to tell everybody at school that they should have their birthday parties at West Hollywood,” C.J. said next day.
West Hollywood, if you see an influx of children’s birthday parties in the coming months and years, remember who started the trend.
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A huge, heartfelt thank you to everyone who attended the West Hollywood Wig Out Birthday Spectacular and made the day beyond special for C.J. Your acceptance and love for our family is profound and it’s quietly letting our kids and their friends know that it’s okay to unabashedly be themselves.