Is it a boy or a girl? What if it’s gay?
The same two questions I heard repeatedly during both of my pregnancies. It seemed like everyone who knew me couldn’t resist asking — though they would sometimes try, hesitating mere seconds in an attempt to seem casual.
The first question is understandable and predictable. But, why the second question?
Because my brother is gay.
And, I love him. And, he’s my best friend. And, I accept everything about him, no questions asked. He’s out as out can be and proud as proud can be. I wouldn’t want him to live any other way. He is a huge part of my life, which I would never hide or ask to play small.
Living in Republican, conservative Orange County, Calif., all of this is very new and different and hard for friends to understand. For many, my brother is the first gay person they have ever met.
My answer to the first question was always the same. I have two boys.
My answer to the second question also never wavered, though it did start to sound completely canned by the third trimester of each pregnancy.
And, my answer was: If God’s giving out gay babies, we’ll take them.
Why? Because I really didn’t, and don’t, trust them to just anyone. Better my home and my heart than those of my neighbors who still say “that’s so gay” when they really mean “that’s so lame.” Better with me than with my Mormon friends who are trying desperately to adopt a child into their family to be raised strictly in the church. Better under my care than that of the homophobic police officer acquaintance who thinks homosexuality is contagious and tied to pedophilia. Better me than a lot people. It would be my privilege and honor to raise a gay child.
So I thought. So I still think. But, raising a possibly-gay child is tough as hell.
I don’t know if my youngest son, who is three, is gay. But if I had to belly up to the table and place my bet right this moment, I’d be at least 75 percent sure that he is. Truth is, it breaks my heart. Not for any reason other than the pain he will have to endure in life.
I read somewhere that having a child is like having your heart walking around exposed outside of your body. It’s true. I have these two little boys that I’m trying to raise into men and they’re skipping through life, flinging my exposed heart here and there with every adventure. I’m vulnerable as hell when all I want to do is protect them. It seems impossible. Add to that that my baby is slightly effeminate and possibly gay — something deemed to be worthy of only teasing and bullying by so many. And it’s just about too much for this mom to take. I’m not alone.
Dad is a recovering bully who fears that karma won’t be a bitch to himself, but to his lookalike son. It’s enough to make a girl need a permanent prescription for Xanax or martinis, or both.
My brother, Uncle Uncle, soothes us. He assures us that gay people are some of the strongest people in our society. They build a thick skin and learn early to become chameleons. They are smart and clever people of character. All of that makes me feel better. They also love their mothers and are excellent sounding boards for style decisions. I breathe a sigh of relief and hope.
I haven’t been chosen to be my son’s mother to change him. That’s not my job. My job is to love him. To love him and clap and cheer for him. To be his biggest fan, no matter what.
This week he was pretending to be on an “exploring hike” with his buddies and insisted that he was wearing imaginary high heels with rainbow glitter. Hooray! He wanted to brush and braid my hair for 30 minutes every night, hoping that it would grow like Rapunzel’s. Bravo! He wanted to try on a wrap dress in Macy’s and have me tell him that he looked pretty. Beautiful!
I’m not here to change him. I’m just here to love him.