A Very C.J. Christmas 2013

C.J. can hardly wait for Christmas.  No.  I mean it.  I’m not sure he can wait.  He’s never been particularly patient.  He’s tried to convince me that if he eats two chocolates out of his advent calendar every morning, two days will pass in one and Christmas will come sooner.  He has also tried to convince me to let him open one present every night like his Hanukah-celebrating classmate gets to.

His Christmas wish list has been done for weeks.  He keeps it in various “safe places” – like under his pillow, in his dirty clothes hamper, rolled up and jammed in the shower of his Barbie Dream House and folded up in his jewelry box.  He wouldn’t let me send the hard copy to Santa lest he forget the items on the list; so he instructed me to “email text it to Santa on Instagram.”  Rest assured that I did just that and hashtagged it #americangirldollsareexpensive, #ithoughtwewereluckyenoughtoskiptheamericangirldollphase and #pleasehaveyourelvesmaketheamericangirldollsothatidonthavetobuyit.

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introChar-holidayYes, at the top of C.J.’s wish list is the American Girl doll named Julie Albright.  She’s a San Franciscan from 1974 with long, silky blonde hair.  Second and third on C.J.’s list, are gymnastic equipment and a bed for Julie.

pTRU1-16293914enh-z6You’ll see on the list that C.J. has also been coveting the Barbie FAO Schwarz Toy Soldier Doll offered exclusively by Toys R Us – which says that the doll is “the perfect gift for any girl!”  I think she’s fabulous and would love to wear her complete look from head to toe.  She may already be wrapped and under our tree, allegedly.

C.J. wants every Monster High doll.  I asked him why he didn’t put them on his list and he said because Santa and everybody in the world already know that he wants them.

He put a Barbie Dream House on his list even though he already has one.  When I asked him about it, he explained that he wants to make New York City in his bedroom and have lots of buildings, skyscrapers and apartments for “his girls” (his girls = every 11 inch doll that he owns).

pTRU1-15923750dtAt the bottom of the list, you’ll notice he wants a WWE wrestling ring set.  That one really surprised me.  When asked about it, I learned that C.J. likes the figurine that it comes with (you should zoom in to take a closer look) and he thinks that ring will go well with his Monster High dolls.

Researching and writing the wish list was a labor intensive task for C.J.’s personal life.  For his academic life, he spent quality time decorating a giant construction paper gingerbread person.  Here it is:

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It is half girl and half boy.  I’ve been told that the boy parts are the pants, sunglasses and lips.  The girl parts are the peplum (I hate peplums and C.J. loves them.  When it comes to this matter, we’ve learned to agree to disagree), the hair and the jeweled barrette.  The shirt is covered in candy and candy is for everybody and, so, the shirt is for boys and girls.

This Friday is the last day of school before C.J.’s two-week winter break.  There’s going to be a party and book exchange.  Here’s the fine print:

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…because books aren’t for everybody, there are “books for boys” and “books for girls.”  When I read the note to C.J. he said, “so, I’m going to get a book that I don’t want?  A boys book?”  For his contribution to the book exchange, he selected Yakov and the Seven Thieves because he thinks that it looks like boys will like it and, more importantly, because it was written by Madonna.  He had me sign the gift tag “To a boy or a girl, Love C.J.”

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Friday Fodder: Gifting and Giving Edition

Are you done with your holiday shopping yet?  I handmade elaborate gifts based on inspirations from Pinterest for everyone on our list.  I lavishly wrapped them and have had them nestled under the tree since December 1.

I’m kidding.  The only reason why I’m even halfway done with my shopping is because I can do it in my jammies from the comfort of my couch and laptop.  How did people do it before online shopping?

Here are some of my suggestions for gifts and giving, in case you have half your recipients to shop for, too.

Donate to GLAAD: My friend Jennifer Finney Boylan serves as GLAAD’s national co-chair (she’s the first transgender person to do so, FYI).  GLAAD is a nonprofit organization that fights for LGBT equality through media advocacy.

Like Jennifer and me, GLAAD believes that the most powerful way to improve the lives of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender adults and children is through the power of stories.  And, it’s by amplifying the stories of families like mine on film, in print and online, that GLAAD helps to change the world.

Through the rest of 2013, the Gill Foundation is matching all donations made to GLAAD.   You can donate in honor of or tribute to someone and that could be a great holiday gift.  GLAAD and my family are welcoming donations in tribute of “Lori Duron and Family.”  To get giving click here:  www.glaad.org/donate.  On that page you’ll be asked to fill out the usual info; there’s also a button marked “Make a Tribute Gift” and if you click there, you’ll see the place to write down the name of the person you are making the donation in tribute of.  You can even set it up for them to receive an email letting them know that you have made a donation in their name.

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Buy My Book: Look at the fabulous books that my friends, readers and supporters have created for you to give as gifts to the people you love! pleasure.

Raising My Rainbow by ME!

She’s Not There by Jennifer Finney Boyle

Stuck In The Middle With You by Jennifer Finney Boyle

Born Gay, Born This Way

The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap by Paulette Mahurin

Gender Born, Gender Made by Diane Ehrensaft

My Princess Boy by Cheryl Kilodavis

The Boy Who Cried Fabulous by Leslea Newman

Roland Humphrey Is Wearing A What? by Eileen Kiernan-Johnson

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Camp Aranu’tiq sent me an email this week.  Over the summer, they served a record number of campers and in 2014 they expect to serve more than 300 campers and families through their summer camps, brand new leadership camps for ages 16-18 and a new weekend family camp! You could consider a holiday gift to help their campers have the best possible experience.

$600 covers tuition cost for one camper

$350 covers camp’s costs for having one camp volunteer

$100 is a big help toward food and supplies camp programs

You can donate here: camparanutiq.org/donate.

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In non-holiday related news: 

If you live in the UK, there is a network and production company putting together a film about parenting a gender nonconforming son.

They are looking for gender nonconforming boys and families who are interested in learning more about the film and possibly participating in it.

They assure me that their approach is supportive, not judgmental.  They are a well-established, award-winning science and factual independent TV production company with worldwide experience supplying to the main channels in the UK.

If you are interested in learning more, email me at raisingmyrainbow@gmail.com.

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And, finally, if you’ve made it this far in this loooooong post, read this amazing essay that was inspired by one of my recent blog posts.

A Thousand Heartbreaks by Jennifer Savage on Mamalode  

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My Son Has A New Hero

My son has a new hero.  His name is Chad Alan.

(He’s not the late-80s teen heart throb Chad Allen who I had a massive crush on once upon a Our House with Brenda Walsh and the Oatmeal Man)

C.J.’s Chad Alan is a designer, artist, YouTuber and the founder of a movement called B.O.L.D. – which stands for Boys Openly Liking Dolls.  Through B.O.L.D. and his YouTube channel, Chad encourages gender nonconforming kids to be bold, be themselves, stand up for what they believe in and bravely like what they want to like.

C.J. found Chad while we were searching YouTube for Monster High content (after he got tired of watching cake decorating videos, which I found made me the dangerous combination of bored and hungry).  He hasn’t left Chad’s channel in more than two weeks.

Chad makes amazing beds and things for the Monster High Ghouls and other dolls.  His videos and tutorials also feature pop music. – which C.J. sometimes dances around to in his room paying no attention to the video’s content.  Chad and C.J. may be kindred spirits; Chad just doesn’t know it yet.  When recently asked what he wants to be when he grows up, C.J. replied “Chad Alan.”

Well, one day last week while I was at work, C.J. and his dad followed Chad’s tutorial for making a stone bed for Rochelle Goyle.

When I got home from work, I was reminded – yet again – that Matt is an amazing father and husband.  How many men would spend hours making a bed for their son’s doll?  I mean, it even required a trip to the craft and fabric store.

With the fabric that Matt and C.J. purchased (based on Chad’s tutorial), I spent that evening and the following day sewing with C.J.  We made the blanket and four pillows.  C.J.’s favorite part of sewing is pushing the foot pedal.  He especially likes it when I tell him to go slow and he pushes the pedal hard to make it go fast and then he says, “whoops, my foot slipped” with an impish grin.

photo 3 photo 4C.J. has been having a rough few weeks at school because he is different and because he likes “girl things.”  Chad Alan and his YouTube channel make C.J. feel like he fits in.  Chad makes it cool to be B.O.L.D.  And, that makes Chad pretty cool in my son’s eyes and mine.  Matt thinks he’s pretty cool too, but wishes that he didn’t post a new bed tutorial almost daily.  How are we supposed to keep up with that?

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A Belated Happy Thanksgiving

I’ve missed you. I hope that you had a rad Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

To be honest, our school bathroom issue has been weighing heavy on my heart and mind.  C.J. and Chase both had the week off from school.  I was super thankful for that.  We needed a break.

I hope you know that I’m also thankful for you.  I love this little online community that we have here.  More very soon, Lori

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“For some people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender holidays mean celebration, joy, family and togetherness. But for others it can mean a time of stress, difficulty and even sadness or depression…especially if one feels that they aren’t able to come out or are not out to everyone in the family. Sitting through a family meal can be challenging enough, but what happens if you are not yet in a position to be true to your authentic self as you make your way through the meal?”

Here are some suggestions from PFLAG — both for people who are LGBT and  allies – for getting through the end-of-year family celebrations unscathed!

Click here to learn more about navigating family at holiday time…

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This Friday I’ll be speaking at California State University, Fullerton’s LGBT Symposium at 11:30 a.m..

“The purpose of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity symposium is to bring together a series of expert panelists and speakers to address issues of inequities within the LGBT community and share their expertise with the local and extended community. We invite all student affairs professionals, educators, graduate students, faculty, administrators, and community members to attend this educational symposium. The symposium titled “Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity: On Your Campus and in Your Classroom,” will be held on December 6, 2013 to address the educational concerns of the LGBTQ community.”

Click here to learn more about the event.

 

 

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When The Boys’ Room Isn’t Safe For A Boy

My son is six and a half years old.  He’s been potty trained with nary an accident since exactly his third birthday.

Last week, in his first grade classroom, he peed his pants.  He sat in his urine until the dismissal bell rang.  His pants were soaked and cold when he got out of school.  He was uncomfortable and he smelled.  He didn’t want anybody to know.  It was his secret.

He started crying in the car.

“I’m so ashamed of myself,” he said over and over again.  Tears rolled down his face, even though he willed them not to.  He couldn’t hold them back.

Come to find out, my son — with his long auburn hair, pink and purple fitted clothes, feminine backpack and wrist full of rainbow-colored loom bracelets – is terrified to use the boys’ bathroom at school.

photo 1On his first visit to the boys’ bathroom, he headed straight for the safety of the stall.  Boys started peeking through the cracks in the stall to see if he was going pee or poop.  Pooping at school is an embarrassment.  He avoided the bathroom for as long as he could.  The next time he had to go, he, again, walked straight to the stall.  He locked the door behind him.  He lifted the toilet seat lid and unzipped his pants.  He could hear them talking.  He could hear them looking.  He turned around.  Boys were peeking through cracks again.  This time they were trying to see his genitals.  They wanted to know if my son has a penis or a vagina.

My son refuses to go into the boys’ bathroom again.  He has stopped drinking his juice boxes at lunch.  He refuses to drink anything at breakfast.  He’ll do anything to not have to use the boys’ bathroom at school.  He’ll do anything to avoid having strangers look at his private parts while taking bets as to what they’ll see when they get to see something.

I’m sure you can understand why my son is not comfortable using the boys’ restroom at school.  He wouldn’t be comfortable using the girls’ restroom either.  Because he identifies as male, the girls’ bathroom doesn’t feel like the place for him.

He wants to use the boys’ bathroom, it’s just that he wants to feel safe once he crosses the threshold into a domain that is loud, messy and run by the boys who dominate the playground.  It’s a world where adults are not allowed and one where being different or weak makes you a target.

We have a “female campus,” which means that our principal and vice principal are female.  I’m told that it’s against the law for them to enter the boys’ restroom.  It’s the only place on campus where the kids have free reign.  They know that adults can’t enter.  It’s like Lord of the Flies in there.  An island of urine, screams, voyeurism and soaking wet paper towels thrown onto the ceiling and hanging down like dirty icicles.  It’s aggressive; my son is not.

My son has been given the option to use the nurse’s bathroom in the school’s front office.  To a first grader at one of the largest elementary school campuses in Orange County, the nurse’s office feels like it’s miles away.  When he does use that restroom, the other kids ask him why.  He feels weird no matter where he pees.

So, instead, he holds his bladder from 7:40 am. To 2:30 p.m., except for on days like the other day, when he could hold it no longer.

photo 2After getting emotional and feeling blue about raising a boy who only likes pink, I contacted the school.  I wiped my own tears and set out to fight his battles, clear his path and ensure that my son would be safe and comfortable at school.  I feel like I’m the only mother who has to fight for her son’s rights to toilet in privacy, without others trying to get a good look at what’s between his legs.

“Of course you should talk to the school,” my brother said.  “But, you need to teach him to stand up for himself if he doesn’t like what’s happening to him.”

I had been operating in crisis mode.  I had been so focused on handling the problem for him, that I was forgetting to teach him how to handle it on his own.

We role-played.

“Stop looking at my privates.”

“You’re being rude.”

“If you don’t stop, I’m going to tell.”

“How would you like it if someone was watching you go to the bathroom?”

“Don’t be gross.”

“What you’re doing is not okay.”

“STOP IT!”

It doesn’t feel like enough.  It’s not enough.  But at least now, my son knows what to say to try to defend and protect himself.

I talked to my mom about it.  Weeks ago she left her bible study in tears.  A fellow church-going Christian claimed to have insider information and knew that my son was using the girls’ bathroom at school.  There would be hell to pay when “everybody else” found out about it.

My son isn’t using the boys’ bathroom, he’s not using the girls’ bathroom, he’s hardly using a bathroom at all.  I worry every day.  Going to the bathroom should be the easiest part of the school day.  But, for my son it’s not.

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A Mother Wants Your Advice

Hi Everybody!  I recently received an email from a mother who wants advice from fellow readers of my blog.  Following is her email.  If you have any advice for her, please leave a comment at the end of this post.  Thanks so much for your help!  I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts.    Best, Lori

“I haven’t visited your blog in a while but did so today as I was wondering if you’ve been exposed to older rainbow boys who stopped their preferences almost overnight.  My son is 10 years old and at 9 he first got called gay in a negative way and that summer was when he absolutely stopped his girl-traditional preferences.

He stopped wanting makeup and then nail polish.  Then he would ask for a blue balloon instead of a pink or purple.   I asked him what his favorite color was and he’d say “Pink, but I want a blue balloon.”  Now, a year later, he told me his favorite color isn’t pink any more.  “What is it now?” I asked.  “Aqua.”

He also wanted a Band-Aid recently for a hangnail he had.  In the Band-Aid drawer I found mostly princess Band-Aids and he said he didn’t want one of those.  I found a cheap plain hospital Band-Aid and he put it on.  10 minutes later, he was back, because the cheap plastic Band-Aid was already falling off.  I said, all I have is the princess ones.  He said ok and put one on with no problem.  Everyone I know with other boys (including myself with two older boys) says that their son (and my older two) would rather BLEED OUT AND DIE at age 10 than wear a princess Band-Aid, and in this case, there was no blood, just an annoying hangnail.  This makes me believe that he hasn’t changed; he’s trying to conform.

Since your CJ is first experiencing the pressure of society, this problem that I have now may soon be yours, so I really want your help and support.  What to do?  On the one hand, there is always a chance that with the advent of testosterone, which does start entering the picture years before puberty, maybe things are evening out and preferences are subtly changing.  Could be.  We are new at this; we do all know that some princess boys become straight men who might love opera or acting or just a fluid, free creative life.  So we just let our sons BE, as we always have.

On the other hand, these changes are also coming at a time where peer acceptance becomes paramount (even as we olders and wisers know it shouldn’t, every kid has to go through it).  Which makes me question how in like a month my son went from preferring girl style toys and wearing manicures daily to … Well, not.  Right after he admitted he’d been teased.  And yes, he’d heard all the stuff your CJ is hearing now: “are you a girl or a boy,” “you can’t have that because it’s for girls,” and all the other BS.  And back then, he would just say “because I want to.” But maybe at 9 it’s harder to resist or put up with than at 6, where there is still a magical sheen over the world.  With all our acceptance, MAYBE THEY ARE STILL CRAWLING INTO THAT OLD CLOSET.

If there is any way to get the question out into the public, especially to adult gay men (my son definitely is not transgender according to the psychological questionnaire; he ID’s male), maybe you can do this.  You can use anything I’ve written if it helps you.  I’d love a blog post where you query the world, what can parents do when at some point there are signs the boy is entering a self imposed closet, even in 2013?  What would have helped you, the adult gay male?  How can they be themselves, even at this age?

At four and six and eight, having parents and family who accept you is enough.  What if it isn’t enough, at 9 or 10 or 11?  Your son is already “closeted” with his lunch.  Just one year ago, my son was wearing a Gymboree girl’s cardigan because it had cupcakes on it.  Now he’s in a navy hoodie.  I don’t care what he wears; I only care that he is happy within his skin.

I just wish that being himself were enough to make my son happy.

Thanks so much for reading,

A fan from California”

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Raising My Rainbow Named One of the Best Books of 2013!

9-1I’m pinching myself.  Again.

Publishers Weekly has named Raising My Rainbow one of their Best Books of 2013 in the lifestyle category!

Chosen from the nearly 9,000 reviews, PW’s 101 Best Books of 2013 span all the adult genres — nonfiction; fiction; poetry; religion; mysteries and thrillers; cookbooks and lifestyle; health; parenting; crafts and hobbies; comics and graphic novels; science fiction, fantasy and horror; and romance and erotica.

See the full list here.

This year’s selection “rewards the famous as well as the undiscovered,” according to PW v-p and reviews editor Louisa Ermelino. She added that PW “avoids popularity contests, aiming instead for a wide-reaching spectrum of books.”

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all of you who have purchased my book and shared it with others.  I’m humbled, honored and, frankly, a little giddy.

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photo-24This weekend I was at Palm Springs Pride meeting readers, signing books, giving hugs, taking photos and sweating because I decided to wear jeans in the desert.  It was so nice meeting all of you who stopped by the Author’s Village.

This month, I’ll be out and about.  I want to meet you!

November 13:  PFLAG Long Beach

November 20: PFLAG Los Angeles

 

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