I was scrolling through discussion topics on the Dooce Community last week when I came across one of particular interest to me.
I've long suspected my youngest son is gay and it's becoming more and more evident. He wants to wear "pretty" jewelry and he loves rings and necklaces, but he's upset that wearing the ones that he finds prettiest leads to him being made fun.
If you thought your 10-year-old child was gay, what would you do? How would you support him? How would you let him know he is loved no matter what?
While the aforementioned topic is something I'm passionate about, I had difficulty putting into words any suggestions worthy of a place on the thread.
Seemingly, the members of "The DoCo" had no such difficulty.
This is tough. I get it. I so get this. It's not the gay thing or cross dressing or being a boy who likes traditionally girlie stuff. It's easy to accept that kind of stuff since it is a part of someone you love. You are doing great. What was hard for me was seeing the turmoil I knew my daughter must be feeling. Your son is probably very conflicted. It's watching from the outside as he discovers who he is and being okay with it.
My suggestion is to encourage him to get the pink purse (I know you already said you would). But when he says he's afraid of what others would say or think, tell him "Let's just use it at home and see how it feels." Baby steps. I can't come up with a better comparison, but it's like when you want to try a new hair style. Sometimes it's nice to try it out at home with people you are most comfortable with before wearing it out. Get used to the feel, see if this really is what you want and if you're comfortable with it. Adolescence is hard, especially for someone who doesn't fall in the lines. It will be okay. He will find his way and his journey will even be a little smoother knowing he has you in his corner.
Tell him people are assholes and to be his badass self no matter what anyone says. Tell him it might be hard sometimes, but it's worth it.
The next time he shows interest in a purse and it is within your budget, buy it for him. If he wants a Justin Bieber folder, buy it for him. I'm not suggesting that you buy him everything he asks for, but if there is a particular item he wants that you would buy for your daughter, buy it for him. Don't talk about what people will say or do, because they might not do anything. He may keep it in his room and do nothing, or he may carry it around when you go out as a family but not to school.
If he does decide to step out with a purse or dress or makeup, make sure you talk to him about safety. I have had many conversations with my son about being very aware of his surroundings, and that he may be a target for a sexual predator or a hate crime. He needs to know that this is a very real possibility and the things he can do to keep himself safe. As long as you are comfortable talking about it, he will understand that he needs to be aware but not scared.
It sounds like you are a loving, open-minded mom. Just keep doing what you are doing and make sure that he knows that he can talk to you about anything. Make sure that he knows that you always have his back. If he decides that he wants to step out with a purse, or dress, or makeup, or whatever, let him know that it is okay.
Honestly, I think you're doing exactly what you need to do by keeping that dialogue open. You're a safe place for him, and that's what he desperately needs. I'm so glad he has you for a mama.
I married my closeted college boyfriend. He stayed in the closet, filled with self-loathing and guilt, until he was 38. It did him untold psychological damage that can never be undone. There is no reliving adolescence and young adulthood and a closeted person does not have an authentic youth. It is tragic to live those years closeted and full of shame and self-hate. It is more damaging than people realize unless they know someone who lived it.
If I was granted one wish, I would turn back the clock and be the adult in his life he needed when he was 10 years old. I would hug him and tell him that he is perfect the way he is. I would tell him the most important thing in the entire world is to be who he is and know that I love him because of who he is. I would say this directly and firmly, over and over until he understood. I would prove my words with my actions toward him and toward other people. I would make effort to expose him to positive depictions of gay people, people who are different from the norm, et cetera. I would seek out my local PFLAG chapter to learn how I could be the adult he needs me to be and how to best guide him in his sexual self-discovery and acceptance.
Your son needs to hear you tell him being gay is okay. It cannot be implied. It needs to be said directly and often. And when you do this for your son, you will indirectly be doing it for all of the other gay people who didn't have the adults they needed in their young lives.
You're a good mom.
Your son is lucky to have you.
Although I didn't wind up adding anything to the discussion in the way of advice, I noticed earlier today that what I did add garnered "Best Answer" honors.
And for good reason.