I’m late posting April’s Month In Review because we were busy celebrating Chase’s 14th birthday. Can you believe he’s already 14?! Any-who, following are the highlights from our month on Instagram. Click here to view more. If you’re on Instagram, follow me. If you already follow me, thank you!
I’m beyond honored to again be named one of BlogHer’s Voices of the Year. BlogHer is the largest annual celebration of women online content creators, social media influencers and media makers.
I’ve been named a BlogHer 2017 Voice of the Year in the Short Written Work category for the blog post I published the day after the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando.
Growing up, I instinctively knew that I had to worry about my brother’s safety because he was slightly effeminate when young, people assumed he was gay as a teen, then he came out shortly after high school. All of those things made him a target for bullying, harassment, victimization and violence.
I saw him find his people and it eased my worry. The first time he took me to a gay club, I remember thinking, “He’s found his people. He’s safe here.”
When I awoke to news of the shooting in Orlando, I was reminded that my brother is not safe. My son is not safe. Even if they find their people. Because monsters can find them there, too.
About a year ago, I dropped CJ off at a girlfriend’s birthday party. An art teacher helped the girls and CJ through a painting class and, then, they enjoyed cupcakes and gift opening. When I returned to pick up CJ, everyone’s paintings were lined up for viewing and admiration. Everyone had followed the teacher’s step-by-step instructions and pained two pink French poodles on either side of the Eiffel Tower. Everyone except CJ. He painted this. Because he can never be the same as everyone else. This painting has been hanging in his bedroom ever since. #nobodyisperfect
My son or a resident of Grey Gardens?
We took some time off to get away for Spring Break and are just now getting back to our normal routine. Which sucks, but what are you going to do? It can’t be Spring Break forever.
CJ used his time on the plane to finish the book Courage to Soar by Simone Biles. He was so inspired that he made me spend the rest of the flight taking pictures of his Barbie doing plane gymnastics. Which means I didn’t get to finish my book. But that’s okay because mothering is all about sacrifices.
When I tell other guys and dads that my son is gender nonconforming and possibly transgender and/or gay, the response I get most often is “Man, how do you deal with that? I couldn’t do it.”
What does that mean? You couldn’t parent a kid like mine? You’d be his first bully and “make him a man?” To me, that makes you less of a man. Much of the time when I confront such people they immediately begin to backpedal and try to move on. I’m not afraid of this discussion and many don’t choose to argue with me or defend their position.
To me, loving a child who is different, a target and seen as vulnerable is my role as a father and decent human being. He’s just as special to me and loved by me as my oldest son, whose most prized possession is a pocketknife, who plays football, likes fart jokes, and is starting to notice girls.
I want to love my son, not change him. I’m a father. I signed on for the job with no strings attached, no caveats, no conditions. – Matt, in a piece he wrote for The Atlantic a while back.
I just recently found your blog and am addicted to your writing. All parents should just love their child no matter what, like you said no strings attached. About 3 years ago my son told me he was bi sexual and said no problem, I love you and be happy! Parenting doesn’t come with a manual or an instruction guide so we need to roll with the punches and love unconditionally.
My 8 year old son is gender non conforming and his father has never tried to push or shame him when it comes to pink streaks in his hair or mini-ponytails and dance lessons. It really surprised me a few months ago to find he and my 10 year old playing a game they had made up. The older boy was playing the dad character trying to “make a man” out of his son by making him do sports and fish. My younger played the effeminiae son who kept defiantly playing with dolls. Apparently they’d been playing this game for a while and both enjoyed the roles and got a lot of laughs out of it. I was really struck by the psychology of them making up an authoritative gender rule dad figure when their real life dad is nothing like that. Not sure it means anything but it was striking.
First time commenter here. Can I just tell you how much of a gem Matt is? I love that he will take no nonsense from others when it comes to parenting a kid that marches to his own beat. You guys make a really wonderful team.
Happy birthday to Chase! And that pic of CJ on the beach? That’s a framer.
Mat, you change the world by example. Thanks for being the great dad that you are.
I remember seeing you guys many years ago during the beginning of your journey. My thoughts then were of ignorance.
My youngest son was born in 2006 and the signs started early. I wanted to wish them away and have my wife stop allowing him to run around in her high heels. My oldest son born in 2003 is as well the athlete and has had an interest in girls. He is having a hard time understanding how is little brother is. We have taken steps to help him understand through professional help. Still and understandably a work in progress. I now know that this is NOT a choice but an act of God for our little one.
Our kids are offsprings of both white and black my oldest does look mixed my youngest is blonde haired with blue eyes. Now how did that happen lol.
When he was younger I would tell him you know you are half and half and he would say no I’m not, “mom daddy says I’m half black” lol!!
So his young life has been quite interesting. As you we don’t know, as yet, what the final outcome will be. We can love, teach and hope for the best.
Thank you for allowing us to follow your journey as well. All the best.
@Jay, You have an amazing family. Just love and embrace how wonderful and amazing both of your kids are and they’ll be fine and so will you. Stand up and fight if you must, just always let them know that collectively, you have each others backs no matter what.
You are the most awesome dad!
Gray Gardens Jr.??!! i love the pic of him and his dad on the rocks…happy b-day Chase.
Love the beach photo with CJ’s stretched upwards to the sky. It’s a photo of jubilation and freedom. May CJ always feel free to be CJ. It’s awesome to see him getting taller and growing up into a young man and in 3 years a teenager. CJ you have a lot of support from people you don’t even know.
And not to overlook Chase..,Happy Birthday Chase and I hope it was a great birthday for you.
You are a great parent and person!
Sounds like you had a busy April! I love that last photo – tell CJ that with his toes pointed like that, it looks like he is doing Barbie Gymnastics! Thanks for sharing your life with all of us!