Raising My Rainbow

‘Could Your Child Be Gay?’ Is The Question Parents Need To Start Asking Themselves More Often

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.

C.J. loves playing Super Mario games, just as long as he gets to be Princess Peach

At the park, C.J.’s BFF was running around pretending to be Super Mario while C.J. was giving a rousing rendition of Princess Peach. I was sitting on a bench completely engrossed in a new article from Parenting magazine titled “Could Your Child be Gay?” All of a sudden this stealthy dad who looked exactly like Kody Brown from Sister Wives was sitting right next to me on the bench smiling. He was like a phantom. I was caught rainbow-handed. I fumbled with my papers. My hands were out of my control. I flipped over the article as quickly as I could and hid it beneath my purse. I felt like a 16-year-old boy being caught with porn; and Kody Brown was my mom.

As Kody Brown went on and on and on about me becoming his next sister wife or little league or some other sleep-inducing topic, I couldn’t stop thinking about getting back to my reading material. And I really didn’t need Mr. Brown or anybody else peeking over my shoulder and catching the title. What would he think?

“Could Your Child be Gay?” is a great piece written by Stephanie Dolgoff. Please, let’s give this girl a round of applause, because she’s taking some homophobic heat from close-minded parents. Her article sources include:

• Ellen Perrin, Ph.D., a developmental pediatrician at Tufts Medical Center
• Erika Pluhar, Ph.D., a sex therapist and educator in Atlanta
• J. Michael Bailey, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Northwestern University
• Judy Shepard, co-founder of the Matthew Shepard Foundation
• Phoenex Schneider, The Trevor Project’s program director

Here are some excerpts/research from the article that made me pause for thought:

• “Besides an affinity for pink and for playing dress-up (for boys), there are certain other behaviors that might raise a parent’s brow: children who often pretend to be the opposite sex, or who prefer to play only with them; a passion (for a girl) or a dislike (for a boy) of rough play; or a preference for dressing like the opposite sex in everyday situations as opposed to isolated incidents. The official psychological term for these types of behaviors is ‘gender nonconformity.’”

• “If a boy does many of the above-mentioned things — playing dress-up, preferring social games to rougher ones, only wanting to hang out with girls, etc. — and keeps doing them over a long period of time, it may be significant,” says Bailey. “If they do it over and over, it’s not a passing thing, and if they seek it out, then it’s often predictive of homosexuality in adulthood in males.”

• “Girls who seem to prefer ‘boy’ things, however, are not as likely to turn out to be gay. Researchers don’t know why, exactly, but it could be that girls in general tend to do more boy activities than vice versa, as well as the fact that there just seems to be more leeway for girls to be tomboys than there is for boys to be feminine,” says Perrin. “Plus, female sexuality may also simply be more fluid than male.”

• “No matter how you or your spouse feels about it, one thing is certain for all kids: Children are desperate to know that they’re loved and accepted by their parents.”

• “You need to make the decision that your child’s happiness and safety is totally unrelated to his sexual orientation,’ says Shepard.”

• “New research in the Journal of Pediatrics suggests that gay, lesbian and bisexual young adults from very rejecting families (as opposed to families who were neutral or mildly rejecting) are nearly six times more likely to have major depression and three to five times more likely to use illegal drugs or have unprotected sex.”

• “No study has proved that you can ‘turn’ a kid gay. That also means that parents can’t make a homosexual kid hetero…What parents can do, however, is make their kids happy or miserable…A gay kid whose parents think there’s something wrong with him, that tends to be a miserable kid.”

• “The one place kids cannot be afraid is in their homes,’ says Shepard.”

• “Act as you would if there were a gay person in the room. That is, don’t tell or laugh at gay jokes or use denigrating words about gay people, even if you’re not talking about anyone your child knows…If an older sibling says a movie or a song is ‘gay,’ offer him alternate adjectives. Say something like “I think what you meant is ‘silly,’ ‘ridiculous,’ or ‘corny.’ Because ‘gay’ is not a word we use to mean those things.”

I finished the article and wondered what the chances were that some other adult at the park was reading the same article and wondering if, in fact, their child could be gay. A woman was on her cell phone. A grandfather was eating an ice cream. Kody Brown was pushing a little girl on a swing. I rounded up Super Mario and Princess Peach and we headed for the car. I have a little squishy hand in each of mine. Could C.J. be gay? Could he be straight? Could he be gender nonconforming? Could he be transgender? He can be exactly who he was created to be.