Colorado Makes Gender-Nonconforming Boys Want To Conform

Raising My Rainbow is written by the mother of a slightly effeminate, possibly gay, totally fabulous son. She’s chronicling their journey on Queerty right here. Read up on RMR‘s cast of characters.


“Daddy, I like boy stuff when I’m in Colorado,” C.J. says out of the blue while visiting his paternal grandparents on vacation.

My husband whips his head in my direction. I know what he’s thinking. We’re both doing the math. We could sell our home in Orange County, California, and buy a nice home on a few acres here with cash. What would we do for work? How are the schools? How are the winters? Would my new wardrobe be rustic vintage gypsy cowgirl or bohemian cowgirl chic?

We’re so caught up in thought that we don’t address C.J’s statement. I flash forward 10 years and know for certain that if C.J. continues being gender-creative, this small town would be the absolute worst place to bring him up: The population of 1,500 is mostly Ute Indians or white, unemployed single people living below the poverty line.

You know how people move from, say, California to Alaska because skin cancer runs in their family and they want to save their children from the disease so they flee the sun? If moving from California to Colorado would change our gender-nonconforming son into a gender-conforming one, would we move?

Sometimes, instead of watching people shoot or fish, C.J. prefers to play Barbies in the car.

Rewind to five days earlier when he wanted to pack his hand-me-down pink flower girl dress (a gift from my goddaughter, who was cleaning out her closet) and new tap shoes for his trip to the wilderness. This town is tiny in population but big in backwardness. And, they obviously take consumerism lightly: The nearest escalator is an hour-and-a-half-away. There is no department store, no Target, no Wal-Mart, no K-Mart, not even a Costco. They recently got a Sonic, but the locals boycott it in favor of the local malt shop, which is named, aptly, The Malt Shoppe. There are no paid firefighters, they’re all volunteers. Should a blaze be set aglow, this small town would be screwed. The local police officer lives down the street. If his car is in his driveway, it’s a good time to commit a crime.

C.J.'s Gender Creative Mom


Then, I got to thinking. Even I like boy stuff more in Colorado. I ride ATVs, I shoot guns, I zipline, I hold a pole and pretend to fish, I even had a sip of beer. I’m gender-nonconforming in Colorado. Put that on a t-shirt and I’ll wear it to the local PFLAG meeting. What’s that? They’ve never heard of PFLAG? Added to all of that, the toys that my mother-in-law keeps at her house are for boys, because that’s all there is in the family. And, then, along came C.J. To a family and a piece of the state where men are manly…and so are the women.

My best friend’s husband, Timmy S, joined us for a few days in Colorado this year. He was there as C.J. cried and flailed as we removed him from an ATV. He wanted “more motorcycle rides.” Timmy S. looked at me and amusingly said “Uh, oh. What are you gonna do now?”

Is my little rainbow turning all blue?

Not so quick. When the rest of the family was making the NRA proud and shooting guns after lunch, C.J. refused to wear ear protectors, until he saw that one pair had a pink sticker on it. He claimed those real quick. At night we’re covered in filth. C.J. eyed Grandmas pink soap rose petals and candles and had a bath by candlelight with floating pink petals nightly. Grandma has two sets of silverware, one more modern and one with lots of scrolls and roses. C.J. will only eat with the frilly ones, because “they are da ones da princesses use.”

I’m feeling bad. I’ll let you in on a little secret: Last year when we were in Colorado, Uncle Uncle and his boyfriend were house-sitting for us, which really means that they wanted to sit poolside in The O.C. and drink our liquor. Anyway, I called them halfway through the trip and instructed them to hide all of C.J.’s girl stuff. Strawberry Shortcake, Barbie, Tinkerbell, all of it. They all went headfirst into a trash bag and were suffocated in a dark corner of my closet. C.J. didn’t ask for them when we got home. Outta sight outta mind. He played with all of the girl toys that were left out because Uncle Uncle and his boyfriend apparently did a shitty of job on the simple task of identifying a “girl” toy, putting it in a bag and putting the bag in my closet. They really did try, they swore.

As the weeks passed, I slowly reintroduced some of the hidden contraband back into C.J.’s life on the sly, because it was cheaper than buying new toys and because I felt guilty. Ah, a mother’s guilt. Some of the toys I threw away because they were old and overused anyway.

This year, in a flash of stupidity, it crossed my mind to do the same thing. But, I learned my lesson and resisted the urge. C.J. can like girl stuff in California and boy stuff in Colorado. He can like whatever he wants in whatever state he wants. I’m just glad that he gets the opportunity to be exposed to it all. That’s what I want for my kids, to be exposed to lots of different things and choose their own bliss to follow out in the sun. No more suffocating dolls in the back of a dark closet at home.


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  • Xien

    One thing I find fascinating about gender conformity is the cultural signifiers of gender. The color pink is just a color. It’s only considered feminine because in the early 20th Century it became fashionable to do so.

    CJ’s fascination with princesses is fascinating. Why did his parents choose to expose him to that facet of our culture? Many representation of princesses are sexist in that they present women as weak and needing rescuing. In counterpoint, there are female characters of literature and film who are presented as feminine but tough. If I had a daughter, I would want her to be more like Wonder Woman or Buffy Sommers and would present role models who were strong.

  • aglrdz

    First of all, I really want to congratulate this woman. I wish my parents did what she does when I was younger! They just forced me to play with cars, join a soccer team & frustrated my passion for dancing & playing music =(
    It is very admirable. Thanks for being an example for the actual and new generations =)

    And please, do not expose children who are gender-nonconforming, gender-creative and clearly comfortable in their own skin to a society where all that is wrong. If they like pink & dolls, so be it!

    Again, congratulations to a this awesome ‘gender-creative super mom’
    What an inspiring story =)

  • Mike in Asheville

    Before its too late, I sure hope this mother finds herself watching/reading “Running with Scissors” and “All Over the Guy.”

    While her heart certainly seems to be in the right place, I am not so sure about the tactics. Whose life is she writing about, her own or her son’s? It is one thing to chronicle a child’s life, as Darwin maintained a journal of his observations of his daughter Annie’s young years. But here, it seems that “Rainbow Mom” is not observing but, rather, is conducting experiments, and the subject of those experiments is a real child, C.J.

  • me

    This lady surely doesn’t seem too open minded when it comes the those Coloradans. What a hypocritical cunt.

  • Bryan Irrera

    @Xien: just remember: Wonder Woman is a princess, too! ;)

  • JAW

    Here she goes again… This woman is a FRAUD!

    she is getting messy with here writing… The end of the story suggests that the story happened last year… which means that CJ would have been 3 (since he is 4 now)

    I am not sure how many 3 or 4 or even 5 yo’s ride ATV’s the way she describes

    The 2 uncles not being able to tell what a girl toy is??? That is an insult, disrespectful and sooo stereotypical,,, and this from the woman preaching Diversity and acceptance?

    Her worst statement is this… “I flash forward 10 years and know for certain that if C.J. continues being gender-creative, this small town would be the absolute worst place to bring him up: The population of 1,500 is mostly Ute Indians or white, unemployed single people living below the poverty line.”
    Again… That is from a “woman” that preaches diversity and acceptance. She had slammed EVERYONE from small town USA… she has made a Racial SLUR against American Indians… She has slammed the poor… as well as white people in general.

    There are Thousands of LGBTQAQI people that live in small communities, many live fun fulfilling lives… and yes, many end up in small minded towns loaded with bigots… but do not prejudge a t own like this bigot has.

  • JH

    While I appreciate these articles, and the efforts of this mom. This one felt like a slap in the face. I am from a small town in Colorado, similar to the one she describes – and I happen to know exactly which town she is talking about – I was there last month.

    This town she describes is a warm, welcoming town. It has also produced some of my dearest (and queerest) friends. It is a nice enclave in the Colorado Mountains that is not nearly so backwards as she describes. While I recognize that many rural towns around this country are not open and welcoming, the truth is that the Colorado mountain culture in fact is. She paints the community with a broad brush that is also wrong in many ways.

    I hope that her young son gets to continue to visit Colorado. We out here focus on the merits of a person, and truly believe in letting every person live the life they want to live. After all – most people moved here because they wanted to get out of traditional society and live in a place that made them happy. Isn’t that exactly what she wants for CJ?

  • Daez

    @JAW: They have family in CO they visit every year. You fail reading comprehension 101.

  • xander

    The Mom’s obsession with “boy stuff” and “girl stuff” is getting tiresome. To her mind, it’s a binary world, where nothing is gender-neutral, everything is either pink and delicate, or blue and rough.

    Are ATVs and guns, by nature, r.e.a.l.l.y masculine? Are small town people, retirees and members of the Ute nation inherently narrow minded?

    Far too many assumptions about gender and class undercut her claims to openness.

    Enough’s enough, already.

  • JAW

    @Daez: Damn… I missed that part… indeed I do not find the part that you mention… where does she say that they visit every year??

    Like I said the kid is four… so if she is talking about things like last yaer… CJ would have been 3… the Fraud can’t keep the story straight… she has a 3 or four year old doing things that most 10 year olds do not even think about… a nightly bath with candles and rose petals in the water>>>> That is all Mom… Not CJ…

  • JAW


    and what about the slap that she made to volunteer Firefighters??

    71% of all firefighters are Volunteer… Shame on her

    How about what she said about the The Ute Indians?? what did they do for her to insult them? Why did she pic on them as well as unemployed poor people??

    You criticized me for something that you misread… As I had said she is getting sloppy with her writing… you even thought she said something that she did not

    Daez, check your facts before you misinform everyone

  • Thomas

    No Target?!?!

    Oh, the humanity.


  • RomanHans

    Sigh; I’m totally with you, JAW (though the writer does say the ATV incident was this year.) But you missed this part:

    The writer had her uncle (or brother) hide C. J.’s girly toys while the family is out of town. When they come back, C. J. doesn’t ask for any of them.

    What does the writer do? GIVE THEM BACK TO HIM, in part “because it was cheaper than buying new toys.”

    This lady is freakin’ KIDDING. If C. J. didn’t *ask* for his dolls, he didn’t *want* them. He apparently had a fine time playing with boy-identified toys. And then SHE BRINGS THEM BACK OUT — saying, in effect, “Here, C. J., stop playing with all that boy stuff and play with these things meant for girls!” — showing a woman with absolutely no clue.

    I red-flagged last week’s episode on my blog: http://worldclassstupid.blogspot.com/2011/07/well-i-guess-it-was-inevitable.html . With this new installment, it’s gone beyond embarrassing into psychologically-questionable territory. Whatever bizarre experiment this woman is playing at shouldn’t be applauded with national exposure.

  • ColoMikey

    After reading this piece I have to say that she got at least one thing right. I grew up in a small town of about 1500 in the mountains of Colorado called Crested Butte. We don’t have any Ute population, so I know she’s not talking about my town – I assume she’s was somewhere closer to the Four Corners area. There is actually a saying that goes, “Crested Butte: where the men are men and the women are too.” She got that one almost verbatim in her story. What I think she may misunderstand about Colorado is that rural does not equal conservative, or backwards, or redneck or whatever typical small town adjective that perhapes would apply if you were in the deep south. Although we can be a rough mountain folk, we actually tend to be fairly liberal. For example, the ranchers, cowboys, and the environmentalists tend to come down on the same side of a lot of issues – opposition to mining for example. A lot of Colorado became a haven for hippies looking for the simple life in the seventies, and that has influenced the character of many of the mountain towns in Colorado. As for my own experience, although I was never out during high school, a lot of people assumed that I was gay. I was never bullied, never made fun of, but I guess I was lucky. When your graduating class is twenty-four kids, you kind of have to get along with one another. I guess all I want to say is, don’t let the size of a town skew your judgement of its character.

  • ColoMikey

    Oh yeah, and I have fond memories of driving to Denver or Grand Junction to go shopping. If it wasn’t at the Wal-Mart in Gunnison, you definitely had to drive at least three hours, one-way, to get ANYTHING. It was great.

  • Kamuriie

    @JAW: Could you possibly add some more letters to that LGBTOMGWTFBBQ acronym, rendering it from mostly-meaningless to completely-meaningless?

    “Your uncles did something I consider stereotypical! You consider yourself diverse and accepting!?”

    Her uncles not being able to tell toys apart may be, in your mind, “stereotypical,” but that has zero bearing on the reality of what happened. Are you delusional?

    Your post sucked.

  • Kamuriie

    @RomanHans: Reading comprehension much? He wasn’t playing with “boy toys” until she reintroduced the “girl toys.” The uncles didn’t identify the right ones, and he was playing with girl toys anyway. She just gave him back some of his old ones. Jesus. You people will bitch about anything.

  • Jon Tom

    I don’t understand all the hostility directed at this mother? Sounds like she is trying her best to raise a son that doesn’t conform to the “norm”. Must be nice to be perfect!

  • RomanHans

    @Kamurile: Non-cliche much? Somebody else already called bullshit on a gay uncle being unable to identify gender-appropriate toys, and I agree. I absolutely don’t believe that a gay man couldn’t identify male vs. female toys, and that a straight woman — the same person who, when CJ put on a man’s shirt with a man’s belt, declared it a “shirt-dress” — would be more expert. I absolutely don’t believe the uncle was so lousy at the task that C. J. could play for “weeks” with the misidentified “girl” toys.

    Even if the above were true, it’d just make the writer’s admission that she eventually brought out *more* girl toys for C. J. because she was either poor or “felt guilty” look all the more stupid.

    As for my plea to Jesus, well, it’d be something like, “Can’t you get ONE idiot to lose internet access?”

  • David

    @me: +60

  • ewe

    To the parents of CJ: STFU. You are so full of stereotypes.

  • ewe

    Thank the gODDs that these two idiots are only gonna fuck up their own kid.

  • ewe

    I don’t hear nothin about the gender conforming son or the gender conforming parents. Why label the behavior of only the gender non conforming son? These idiots obviously have an agenda of singling out their son who does not meet the requirements of blending huh? So their answer is to exploit him. Gee we never heard of such a thing!!! Snark snark.

  • Christime Boyd

    I admire you for being a loving mother. I know about people who beat their kids just because they’re not the boy or girl they’re supposed to be.

  • Kenny

    Gay parents would never be allowed to mimic what this straight woman is doing. Gay parents would lose custody of their kids, be hauled in front of the news media, and executed. She can get away with this parenting style because she is straight.

  • JAW

    @Kamuriie: @Kamuriie: #16

    You DID understand my meaning… I am getting pissed with all the groups that have been added to the LB community… all of the other letters have a meaning within the sexual minority community. I am not sure that all of yours have any meaning at all.

    When the Fraud mom (aka CJ’s mom) used “Uncle Uncle and his boyfriend” (not uncles that you misread), The Fraud (aka CJ’s mom) was trying to let use know that she had gay friends, who like to freeload (drink booze and sun by the poo)… Uncle Uncle and his boyfriend were given the task of hiding all the girl toys in The Fraud’s (aka CJ’s mom) closet… but last post, that is where CJ found Dress’ ad pumps… sounds like a great hiding place… or a fucked up mom.

    For the Fraud (aka CJ’s mom) to suggest that two men, who are gay, are not able to decide what toys are for boys and what are for girls is a slur… suggesting that 2 gay men cannot figure out the difference between what are girls, and what are boys just prolongs the stereotyping of ALL Gay men being fem.

    Please… before you make rude comments, please get your fact right.

    Perhaps it is your post that is s you say… “delusional”

  • ewe

    They aren’t even real people. The evidence is with the continued refusal to show a face pic of themselves. If that is not the case then they are all full of shame and can go fuck themselves.

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  • sydk

    I think the thing in this post that bothers me the most is how she equates female nonconforming to male nonconforming. It is several times more acceptable for women to act like men, than it is for men to act like women.

  • NavelgazingMidwife

    New to this blog, I am baffled at the comments and think I’ll forego reading them anymore. IF CJ’s mom reads, I hope she dons her asbestos suit beforehand.

    Anyway, I *loved* this post! As a mom of 4 grown kids (a grandbaby on the way!), the 25-year-long wife of a transman with a lifetime of the Lesbian Experience, this mama is doing a magnificent job with her child. I *love* the way her mind works, her honesty, her clarity with describing the mothering (decidedly different than “parenting”) experience.

    I totally look forward to more… and more! Off to read the back posts. *And* ignore those comments!

  • JAW


    Welcome to Queerty… you may want to click on the banner for raising my rainbow… read the blogs from the beginning… you will understand why people think that sh is a fake and a fraud…
    This story is all about here… not CJ… I believe that she wanted a girl (since she already has a boy) so she is making CJ that girl… she has about 10 blog post on her site.

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