Your Son is (Probably) Not Gay

I usually avoid controversy on this blog and I generally try not to get too opinionated about things. I have many reasons for this, but I'm not going to go into them here. I recently read an article about the controversy whipped up by a mommy blogger who posted pictures of her son dressed up like Daphne for Halloween. I'm fine with the fact that she is willing to let her son dress up as whichever character he chooses, and I'm mildly uncomfortable with the fact that she seems to be doing so as some sort of political statement. What I'm most uncomfortable about is the fact that she titled her post "My Son is Gay."

I'm sorry, but just because your five-year-old wants to dress up like a girl doesn't mean he's gay. Being gay means that you are attracted to people of your same gender. Some gay men dress as women, but cross-dressing is not always related to homosexuality. There are plenty of cross-dressers that are straight as well. Gay men do not necessarily want to be women; as many of my gay friends have told me, they are simply men that are attracted to other men. I know that one major objection to reparative therapy is the implication that homosexuality arises from a faulty gender identity. Most gay men that I know are not 'gender confused; they definitely feel masculine in many ways. In general I'm often bothered by people assigning adult feelings to children's behaviors. I've never liked it when people look at kids who have friends of an opposite gender and say things about having 'boyfriends' or 'girlfriends'. Yes I know that many people start feeling attracted one way or another at that age, but I think it is very premature to start making assumptions and assigning labels to things like friends or 'crushes' or whatnot.

In sum: please remember that not all children who 'cross-dress' (if you can even call it that at such a young age) are homosexual. Not all adults that cross-dress are gay either.

The end.

Comments

Jenny said…
That was such an intelligent rant. Go pat yourself on the back. I don't even know that counts as a rant!
AmyJane said…
Agreed. Especially about the whole "assigning adult feelings to children's behaviors." People are constantly telling me that Patrick has a crush on some little girl in primary, or one of the high school helper girls at school or what have you, when in reality, he is just interested in that girl as a person. It's just that adults notice when a kid wants to befriend someone of the opposite gender. In fact, the high school helper that his one teacher kept saying he had a crush on? Well, I finally quizzed him down about this Ashley. Turns out, he "likes" her cause her hair ribbons always match her shirt and because she talked to him in pig latin one day. If that's not innocent, I don't know what is!
rantipoler said…
I heard about that blog post, thought of you, and wondered what your take was on it. So thanks for satisfying my curiosity. I like your take, as I knew I would. :)
Nemesis said…
My human development teacher @ BYU had a son who wanted to dress up as a girl for Halloween. Dad helped him choose his costume, paint his nails, and apply makeup. His basic point: calm the heck down and just let your kids be kids without you bringing all your own stuff into it.

Great rant!

(And yes, I'm reading blogs at 4:25am because I don't sleep anymore.)
Julie P said…
Amen. When I read that post I felt similar things: quit trying to make a statement using your kid, and also, good chance your kid isn't gay, but just having fun. Big whoop. I also worry/wonder about the effect on child that her hyper attitude will have.
Scott N said…
The first six words in the article are:

"Or he’s not. I don’t care."

I don't think the mom is assuming anything (though she might be wondering or considering the possibility--which isn't quite the same thing as assuming).

It's the other moms who are making assumptions (and criticizing the boy's mom for "allowing" him to wear a gender-nonconforming costume). His mom is just saying "I'm going to let him be what he wants to be, whatever that ends up being".

And yes, she's "used" him (or this experience, to be more accurate) to make a statement, but it's a good statement--one that needs to be made more often, IMHO.

I thought it was a beautiful example of a parent being as supportive and non-judgmental as every parent should be.
Cheryl said…
Agreed. And Amen.
Braden said…
Totally agreed.
Aerin said…
It's strange, when I heard about this, the first thing I thought of was privacy. I'm not sure why that's what I thought of. Lots of people show pictures of their kids and talk about their kids on the internet. I don't know why this particular post (and it's viral nature) made me uncomfortable.

I think it's great for parents to be supportive of their kids, no matter who their kids are. I just think every child needs the safety and security of exploring that in their own time, not necessarily for the whole world on the internet.
FoxyJ said…
Scott--you have a good point; I need to read more closely. I still don't think it should be about his sexuality at all, though. He's five. It's very normal for children that age to want to 'cross-dress' (if you can call it that). I've seen other posts from parents, either positively or negatively, wondering if such a propensity has something to do with their orientation. I think at that age it is awfully premature to make any assumptions either way (especially since cross-dressing does not really have much to do with being gay). I'm tired of the stereotypes that assume that being gay is all about having flashy clothes or wanting to be feminine.

Aerin-I think you bring up a good issue and helped me clarify something that I had been thinking about for myself. Parents who blog should be thinking about their children's privacy and I think orientation is not really something to speculate about in such a public setting, especially if he hasn't brought the issue up himself.

If my son had wanted to be Daphne instead of Fred for Halloween, I'm honestly not sure what I would have done. He's four-and-a-half, so I would not have been worried--he wears princess dresses at home sometimes for dress-up. I probably would have talked to him about what some of the social issues would be, since at this age I think it's a social convention issue. Kids should know that parents support them and that they are free to make choices, but I also think that as parents we sometimes need to have age-appropriate talks about the ramifications of our choices.

And, I do want to make it clear that I am not opposed to the idea that a kid as young as five might be attracted to people of the same gender. My husband tells me he has felt that way for as long as he remembers. But I still don't think that has anything to do with your choice of Halloween costume

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