My Son’s Thoughts On The Homecoming Queen

C.J.’s Brother Chase loves football.  He’s been playing flag football for the past four seasons and thinks that he’s ready to make the jump to tackle football with pads (and a much higher registration fee and time commitment).  Tackle football makes me nervous, but I’m being told on a weekly basis that it’s uncool for him to play flag football much longer.  Tackle football is where it’s at if you are serious about pigskin and/or your social status.

In preparation for this next phase of Chase’s athletic career, we decided that he needs to see tackle football live (not just on TV) so he can fully understand that he will be tackled and expected to tackle someone else.  He’s such a kind, gentle, loving soul and I’m afraid that the first time someone knocks him to the ground in an act of aggression it’s going to shock the shit out of him.

Matt found out that our high school alma mater was playing a football game five minutes from our house, so one recent Friday night we loaded in the car, grabbed hamburgers for dinner and headed to the stadium for the game.

“I don’t wanna watch football.  Football is soooooo boring,” C.J. complained, slumping his shoulders and walking with dread through the parking lot.

“There will be cheerleaders…” I said.

“I love cheerleaders!  Do we have to sit on the grass or is there a place for the audience to sit?” C.J. asked.

“When you watch sports you’re a fan, not an audience, and you sit in the stands or the bleachers.”  C.J. has a lot to learn to about sports, but isn’t the least bit interested in learning it.

We walked into the stadium and C.J. saw the cheerleaders instantly.  They were standing on boxes with their names written on them.

C.J.:  “What’s her name?”

Me:  “Hannah.”

C.J.:  “What’s that one’s name?”

Me:  “Hannah.”

C.J.:  “What’s the brown-haired girl’s name?”

Me:  “Hannah.”

C.J.:  “That’s so many Hannahs!  Do you have to be named Hannah to be a cheerleader?  Cause my name’s not Hannah.”

I agreed.  There were a lot of Hannahs.  There were a lot of cheerleaders, period.  There were a lot of people.  We had a hard time finding seats.  I looked around.  I leaned over to Matt.

“I think it’s Homecoming,” I said.  “Did you plan this as a romantic gesture for your high school sweetheart?”  He hadn’t.  Whatever.

C.J. watched the freshman, sophomore, junior varsity, varsity and alumni cheerleaders cheer.  By the middle of the second quarter he was getting bored.  (So was I.)

“Ewwww, what is that costume!?” he said while pointing.

“That’s the uniform that the band wears.  That girl is in the band,” I replied.

“Ewwww, that’s so not good.  That’s sad,” he said.

I quieted him down.  But, he was right.  The getups had obviously been selected from the Star Trek-themed pages of the band uniform catalogue.

“I wanna go home,” he complained.

“We can’t leave yet, there is a halftime show and they are going to crown the Homecoming Queen,” I said.

“THERES GOING TO BE A QUEEN!!!!  YOU DIDN’T TELL ME THERE WAS GOING TO BE A QUEEN!!!” he yelled, causing the two rows in front of us to turn and look.

“WHERE IS SHE?????” he said stretching his head out and around to look for her.

“We don’t know who the queen is yet.  They are going to bring out the princesses and then announce which one was picked to be the queen,” I whispered into his ear.

“THERE ARE PRINCESSES TOO!!!!!” he yelled.  Again the rows turned to look at us.  He was nearly shaking with excitement.

The Dr. Seuss halftime show started.  Apparently it was Homecoming in Whoville.  There were small skits, dance routines and then the five princesses were loaded into a horse-drawn carriage and were making their way on the track around the football field towards us.

“HERE THEY COME.  THEY’RE COMING!!!!”  C.J. was losing his freaking mind.

The princesses took to the stage one at a time as their long list of accomplishments was read.  One had, like, a 4.75 G.P.A.  Is that even possible?  I was always stoked to have above a 3.0.

Each princess was stationed in front of a gift-wrapped box.  Each box contained a helium balloon and whomever’s balloon had a red paper heart attached to it was the queen.  Simultaneously, the princesses started to slowly lift the lids off of their boxes.

C.J. had is hands clasped together and held up to his heart.  He was holding his breath.  There were princesses, gift boxes, balloons and hearts.  C.J. could not have been more in his element.

The girl on the far left won.  It was a beauty pageant moment.  She brought her hands to her mouth in shock.  She had a surprised-Taylor-Swift face.  The crown was placed atop her shiny dark hair and a cape was draped on her slender shoulders.

“SHE CAN’T WIN!!!!!!  SHE DOESN’T HAVE THE BEST DRESS!!!!  THE GIRL OVER THERE WITH THE PINK GLITTER DRESS SHOULD BE THE QUEEN!!!!!”

C.J. was on his feet pointing firmly to the girl who – in his humble opinion – should be the Homecoming Queen.  The two rows in front of us turned to look again.  I was hoping that a smile would hide my embarrassment.

I tried to explain to C.J. that the Homecoming Queen is supposed to win based on her achievements, not her dress.  He argued that that was stupid and that it should be based on her dress.

“Are you ready to go?” Matt asked me.

We started to make our way down the stadium steps.

“We’ll see you all in the gym for the 2013 Homecoming Dance!” the football announcer said over the loud speaker.

“YAAAAAAYYYYYYYY!!!!! WE GET TO GO TO A DANCE!!!!!! IS IT TONIGHT?  WHAT GYM?  LA FITNESS WHERE YOU WORK OUT, MOMMY?”

“No, baby, it’s at the high school gym and it’s only for the teenagers.”

“But that man just invited me and I can wear one of my dresses…”

“You can’t go until you’re in high school,” I said exhausted by the endless questions.

“I already know what dress I’ll wear,” he said.

“Of course you do.”

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Friday Fodder: Birthday Blogger Edition

As a birthday present to myself, I took the earlier part of the week off from blogging.  I spent the time fixated on the fact that I’m now closer to 40 than I am to 30.  The first email that I saw the morning of my birthday was a Groupon for Botox.  Well played, Groupon.  Well played.

I’m also a little wiped out from my book’s release four weeks ago.  I also get lazy periodically and may need some sort of rehab to get over my addiction to Candy Crush.  So, please excuse my absence.

Matt, Chase and C.J. made my birthday special as always.  Matt always buys me a present and takes the boys to Target so that each of them can gift me with something that I’ve always wanted.  Then, the boys made cards for me.

This if the front of my card from C.J.:

photo 1

This is the inside, that’s me opening up my presents.  I have really long legs like a supermodel, according to C.J.:

photo 2

This is C.J. and Chase falling down the stairs to watch me open my presents because I started opening them without them.  I think he just wanted to draw his hair in motion:

photo 3 This is the gift that C.J. picked out especially for me.  It may look like only a cute little cupcake tchotchke, but wait there’s more:

photo 5

Inside is this necklace that I am wearing now with pride:

photo 4 “Mom, how about you have the necklace and I have the cupcake?  That sounds like a good idea, doesn’t it?” C.J. said persuasively.

“Okay,” I agreed.

“And, then, when you die I can have the necklace,” he said.  That didn’t help me with my feeling old problem.

* * *

This Tuesday, October 8, I’ll be at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library.

misc-lori-duronAt 7 p.m., I will be in the Main Meeting Room.  The event is free and open to the public.  

Parents of gender nonconforming children are invited to a special visit with me at the library from 6 to 6:30 pm. This session is free but sign up is required; parents can email Robin Fosdick at robin.fosdick@corvallisoregon.gov to register.

An extra special thank you to the Friends of the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library and the Hilton Garden Inn for sponsoring this event.

* * *

Raising My Rainbow: Adventures in Raising a Fabulous, Gender Creative Son is now available in the UK and Ireland in paperback and for your e-reader.  Spread the word.  #raisingmyrainbowworlddomination

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Friday Fodder: West Hollywood Book Fair Edition

This Sunday I’ll be at the West Hollywood Book Fair.  Will I see you there? 

Sunday, September 29, West Hollywood Book Fair 

bookfair_sidebar1The book fair runs from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.  At 3:30 p.m., I will be on a panel titled “Telling My Story: LGBT Memoir” and I will be signing books immediately afterwards.   Admission is free, so stop by and say hi! 

Here’s more event info:  The 2013 West Hollywood Book Fair is one of Southern California’s largest and most eclectic literary events.  Taking place at West Hollywood Park & West Hollywood Library, it will feature 13 stages, hundreds of acclaimed authors and artists, exhibitors, live performances, culinary demonstrations, children’s theater programming, and workshops for all ages.  The day will end with a very special in-the-park screening of Singin’ in the Rain with Debbie Reynolds.

* * * 

photo-21In their issue that hit newsstands today, People Magazine named Raising My Rainbow a “Good Read!”  It’s fun (and surreal) to see my book in a magazine like People, but more than anything it’s exciting that it introduces the topic of gender creative kids to such a large, mainstream audience.  

 

* * * 

Next up for me after this weekend’s West Hollywood Book Fair is… 

Tuesday, October 8, Corvallis-Benton County Public Library

misc-lori-duronAt 7 p.m., I will be speaking at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library in the Main Meeting Room.  The event is free and open to the public.  

Parents of gender nonconforming children are invited to a special visit with me at the library from 6 to 6:30 pm. This session is free but sign up is required; parents can email Robin Fosdick at robin.fosdick@corvallisoregon.gov to register.

An extra special thank you to the Friends of the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library and the Hilton Garden Inn for sponsoring this event.

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An Update About School

You all are the best.  No.  I mean it.  THE BEST.

After I wrote about the trials and tribulations of our first week of school, so many of you reached out to check on us, left comments on my blog and shared your support through social media.

Here’s an update.

photo 2C.J. continues to carry his lunch to school in a brown paper bag instead of his much-desired pink-heart-monkey lunchbox.  He knows that he can take the lunchbox at any time, but he now prefers the bag.  Here’s why: when it’s time for lunch, he has to carry his lunchbox across campus to the tables to eat.  When he’s done eating, he has to carry his lunchbox to his classroom number that is painted on the ground by the playground.  When the end-of-lunch bell rings, he has to go retrieve his lunchbox from his room number and walk to his classroom.

If you aren’t familiar with new first graders, this process can be daunting.  He has realized that with a brown lunch bag, he can carry it to the lunch tables, eat his lunch and toss the whole damn thing in the trash and get to the playground without having to remember things like his room number or his belongings.

The brown lunch bag is easy.  Is the ease of use the only reason why he is using it instead of the pink-heart-monkey lunchbox?  I’m sure it’s not.  But, we are okay with that for right now.

photo 1Kids continue to ask him why he is carrying a girl’s backpack and tell him that he can’t use it because it is for girls.  He honestly doesn’t seem hurt by the remarks; it seems more like he’s just annoyed by them at this point.  To give the naysayers something more to talk about, this week he added to his backpack a key chain from Justice that looks like a pink locker.  So, there.  Feast your eyes on that double display of femininity.

As for C.J.’s Brother Chase, after I reported the racist remarks that he heard and the homophobic slurs and bullying that he endured, both offending classmates were talked to individually and the teacher told me that the next day she would talk to the entire class about acceptance and equality.  At the end of the second week of school, I asked Chase if his teacher had talked to the class about acceptance, equality, tolerance, racism or the LGBTQ community.

“No,” he said and went back to watching iOS 7 load slowly onto his iPad mini.

“So, at no time this week did she talk about being nice and accepting everyone or anything like that?” I asked.

“Oh, yeah, wait a minute, she did.  Out of nowhere she said what if one day we all went to school and she said that everybody with blue eyes was bad and lesser than and couldn’t talk to anybody else or eat or play with everybody else and weren’t as smart.  Everybody thought that would suck and we all looked for the people with blue eyes.  Then, she said what if the next day we came to school and she said everybody with brown eyes was dumb and bad and couldn’t hang out with everybody else and blue-eyed people were okay again.  It was kind of confusing, but it doesn’t matter because I have hazel eyes, so I was cool no matter what.”

I just looked at him.  I’m sure he wasn’t relaying the lesson wonderfully and I was wondering how I expected the teacher to address acceptance and equality with a fifth grade class.

“What?” he said looking at me.

“And, what did the other kids in class say?”

“They said they would just wear sunglasses or keep their eyes shut so that they wouldn’t have to deal with it,” he said looking back down at his iPad.

“But that’s like a gay person being in the closet and not being true to themselves.  Or your brother having to conform just to get by,” I said, thinking out loud.

Chase shrugged his shoulders and walked into the other room.  The conversation was over, I guess.

C.J.’s First Grade Self-Portrait. Heavy on the eyeliner and lipstick apparently.

One thing I did do, at the suggestion of one of you, was ask the teacher if the parents of the two kids who had specifically been the problem had been notified of their child’s behavior.  I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to ask this, but I let her know that if my child ever needed one-on-one discipline or was using racist, homophobic or hate speech that I would want to know.

The answer was yes.  The parents had been made aware.   I would be mortified, but what if they felt that their child was justified to speak freely about their opinions?

I got up and left the room too, I needed the conversation in my head to end.

The final days of last week and the first days of this week have been largely uneventful.  Which is just the way I like my days to be most of the time.

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See Us Online and In Person

On Thursday, the television show The Doctors aired an amazing segment on our family, blog and book.  It was more in-depth and informative than any interview we’ve done before and they handled the topic with such empathy, support and compassion.   Following is our 30-minute segment broken up into five clips.

Our Segment’s Synopsis: Parenting a Gender-Creative Child

Screen Shot 2013-09-21 at 8.42.08 PM

Supporting Gender Nonconformity: Parents Lori and Matt Duron open up about their decision to support their gender-creative child.

Screen Shot 2013-09-21 at 8.40.18 PM

Gender Nonconformity Vs. Transgender: Gender therapist and licensed clinical social worker Darlene Tando explains the difference between transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals.

Screen Shot 2013-09-21 at 8.42.46 PM

Struggles of Raising a Gender-Creative Child: Parents Matt and Lori Duron reveal the most painful parenting struggles of raising their gender-creative child.

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Parents Discuss Bullying of Gender-Creative Child: Parents Matt and Lori Duron discuss some of the hate mail they have received for supporting their gender-nonconforming child.

* * *

So, that is how you can see us online.   Here’s how you can see me in person (sorry, C.J.’s Dad and the boys have to stay home).

Sunday, September 29, West Hollywood Book Fair 

At 3:30 p.m., I will be on a panel titled “Telling My Story: LGBT Memoir” and I will  be signing books afterwards.   The 12th Annual West Hollywood Book Fair will feature literature, art, music, performance and community in an eclectic presentation.  Admission is free, so stop by and say hi!

Tuesday, October 8, Corvallis-Benton County Public Library

At 7 p.m., I will be speaking at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library in the Main Meeting Room.  The event is free and open to the public.  

Parents of gender nonconforming children are invited to a special visit with me at the library from 6 to 6:30 pm. This session is free but sign up is required; parents can email Robin Fosdick at robin.fosdick@corvallisoregon.gov to register.

An extra special thank you to the Friends of the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library and the Hilton Garden Inn for sponsoring this event.

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It’s One Thing After Another, I Swear

photo 1School started last Tuesday.  My kids had been out of school for 82 days — not that I was counting – and they were antsy to go back.  With Chase starting fifth grade and C.J. starting first grade, I have reached the momentous mommy milestone of having all of my children in full-day school.

I got them both to where they needed to be on the morning of September 10 and rushed back home to park myself on the couch under a blanket to catch up on reality TV, while obsessively and repetitively checking email and Facebook on my laptop and Instagram and Pinterest on my phone.  Because that, my friends, is how I relax.

As I got myself situated on the sofa the silence of the house caught my attention. It was quiet.  Really quiet.  The sounds of summer were gone.  I got halfway through one episode of Teen Mom 3 and I had a bad feeling.  What if, at that very moment, someone was trying to dull C.J.’s sparkle?  What if he was being teased for his rainbow-leopard-print backpack?  What if he was being teased for his pink, heart-covered lunchbox?  What if he was being teased for his hair that is growing out?  What if?  What if?  What if?  I couldn’t concentrate on mindless TV.  Ugh!

I thought of that morning.  I followed behind Chase as he walked onto campus.  He was high-fiving people through the hallways and reinforcing why we call him “The Mayor.”  He knows everybody and is full of a confidence that is more kind and innocent than cocky.  He’s just a great, happy, friendly person.

photo 2Thirty minutes later we were at C.J.’s school and he was holding onto my hand for dear life.  The transition from kindergarten to first grade is a big deal.  Gone are the half-day of instruction, private playground, protective atmosphere and kids and parents who know C.J. is, well, C.J.   This year he has to stand in line on the playground with 1,150 other first through sixth graders waiting for the bell to ring.  He was overwhelmed.  Understandably so.

When I picked C.J. up from school, his teacher had the class in a single file line and was dismissing one student at a time.  I could see C.J. at the back of the line.  He looked up at me and then immediately looked down.  He was fighting back tears.  I started to do the same.

When he got to me, I asked him how his day was.

“Fine,” he said as we walked.  He was lying.  We got into the car and the tears spilled down his cheeks.

“What’s wrong, baby?” I asked.

“I spent all day afraid that the big kids were going to tease me cause they don’t know that I’m gender nonconforming yet.  And, it was the longest day ever.  I’m tired.  First grade is way too long,” he explained.

“Who did you sit with at lunch?”

“I sat at the boys’ table and it was so boring.”  There are not boys’ tables and girls’ tables at lunch, that’s just naturally how the kids divide.

“How come you didn’t sit with your girl friends?” I asked.  C.J. only has girl friends.

“Because I didn’t want the bigger boys to tease me.”

“Did the boys say anything about your lunchbox?” I asked.  He’d been not so patiently waiting to use it for weeks.

“I didn’t carry it to the lunch tables.  I took all of my food out and carried it in my hands to the tables so that nobody would see my lunchbox.”

My heart broke as I envisioned him trying to carry a sandwich, juice box, chips, granola bar and sliced fruit to the lunch tables on the other side of campus.

We role-played that night during bath time.

“What if someone said ‘why do you have a girls lunchbox?’” I asked.

photo 5“I’d say because that’s my style and everyone can have their own style,” he replied not missing a beat and sounding like he really believed his own words.

“See!  You’re great!  That’s what you would say!” I encouraged him.

“It’s harder when it’s really happening,” he said looking down.  I couldn’t argue with that.

I offered to go get him a new lunchbox.  He didn’t want to.  He likes his pink lunchbox.  But, the next day he took his lunch in a brown paper bag.  And, he has everyday since.

That was Tuesday.  Day One.

On Wednesday, Chase came home and said that he needed to talk to me privately.

“A kid in my class made a racist remark at the lunch tables and I told him that it wasn’t very nice, especially since there was a person of color at the table.  Then the same kid used the word ‘gay’ in the bad way and I told him not to do that because it’s rude and because my uncle is gay and my brother is gender nonconforming.  He said that being gay is sick and bad and wrong.  He said that I’m not a good Christian if I like gay people.  It’s all really been bothering me,” Chase said.

He stared at me.  I stared back at him, trying to keep my immediate reactions from flying out of my mouth.

“Wow.  Okay.  So that all happened,” I said as he continued to stare at me.  I swear, I cannot get away from gender and sexuality issues.  Even when I’m just trying to hide in my house and stare at three screens simultaneously, my kids are out in the world experiencing things that aren’t okay.

“Well, baby, above all else, God said to love others and not judge, so you should tell that kid to focus on that.  Besides, he made a big assumption that everybody is the same religion.  Then, maybe you two should agree to disagree.  Not all kids your age have the same opinions and worldviews as you do.  A lot of them don’t know about the struggle for LGBTQ equality yet.  I bet that kid has never even met a gay person.  You’re a little more worldly in that regard.”  I was making it all up as I went along.

photo 4On Thursday, pretty much the exact same conversation took place at lunchtime with two other kids joining in to tell Chase that being gay is sick, bad, wrong and gross and against God, Jesus and the Bible.   They said that we are a bad family.

I emailed the teacher and principal.

Then, on Friday, C.J. got was upset that a girl from his class told him that his backpack is for girls.

“I told her that it wasn’t, that backpacks are for everybody and that is just my style.”

He was proud of himself.  He was smiling.

“What did she say?”

“She said I was a liar and that it’s only for girls and I can’t carry it.”

“Backpacks are for anyone who has a back and needs a pack,” I said, shaking my head in pure exhaustion.

The first four days of school.  My youngest is afraid of getting teased at lunch, while my oldest is actually getting teased at lunch.  I’ve already had to be in contact with two principals, two teachers and one vice principal.  We’ve already been called a bad family.  And, I’m still not caught up on my reality television shows.  This should be an interesting school year.

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My Advice. My Vulnerability. My Voice.

This has been a very crazy week, with C.J. starting first grade and his brother Chase starting fifth grade.  I’m in the middle of writing a post about their first week of school.  Until I finish that, enjoy this:

My Advice To Parents Of Girly Boys, Parents.com

PinkLogoI welcome a lot of emails into my inbox every day and many of them are from parents or caregivers seeking advice on raising a gender creative child.  This column contains my top seven tips.

Lori Duron On Finding Vulnerability And Sincerity Through Writing, Biographile.com

FamilyIf you’ve followed my blog over the last two and a half years, I’m sure you’ve noticed a change in my writing voice.  I had been using wit and sass most of my life to protect myself and appear less vulnerable than I really was. I mistakenly thought that people wouldn’t appreciate the sincere and raw version of me. Most importantly, I didn’t think that I would like that version of myself. I was wrong on both accounts.  Learn how a very special book editor helped me find vulnerability and sincerity through writing.

Raising My Rainbow Highlights The Challenges Of Raising A Gender Creative Child, Southern California Public Radio

intelligent-talk-2b7e626132ee3e3cf262a2199bd149f5In this 10-minute radio interview, I discuss how public reactions to C.J. make me feel, how bullying led to Chase talking about suicide and C.J.’s future.

Thank you to all of you who have purchased my book and helped me to inspire a conversation that raises awareness of, understanding about and acceptance for gender creative kids.  Let’s keep the conversation going – kids like C.J. deserve it.

Xoxo, C.J.’s Mom (a.k.a Lori Duron)

Order the Raising My Rainbow book!

     

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