Even though we still have ways to go, over time, our society has lessened the stigma of gay and lesbian relationships. The imagery is everywhere and it’s part of our cultural landscape as it should be. Movies, television, music all profess the normalcy of same-sex relationships, their place in history, their socioeconomic impact, their justified desire to receive the same benefits and rights as an opposite gender relationship..
So how do you communicate all of this to your children? These little sponges of information. These beacons of bountiful light. When is the right time to discuss what they predominately see, from their own parental or grandparental roles or from the majority of the people they are surrounded by, that there are alternative lifestyles that are similarly functioning (or dysfunctioning) all around the world.
Do you let it happen organically, where they see the Christina Aguilera or the Black Eyed Peas video with two men or two women kissing and you answer the curious questions? Do you wait until they come home and ask why an older boy at school called them a “fag” and what does that mean? Or do you proactively approach your lovely child and explain the differences in how some people feel about love and relationships. If so, do you explain the mountains of hate that some people hold for these innocent bystanders, these vilified groups of everyday people who just want the same level of respect and dignity that we take for granted everyday? Or do you preserve the innocence from that hatred for as long as you possibly can.
I ask all these questions because, like most parental decisions, I never know if what I am doing is right. Similarly to other families, I have a relative who is gay and we see him quite often. He is in his early twenties (which seems so young at my advanced age of 42), nice guy and recently met someone and the relationship has become more serious. They were together at a recent wedding we all attended and again last night at a family dinner.
We have had some preliminary talks with Hud about homosexuality that stemmed from his noticing some imagery in pop culture somewhere. We were upfront about how some people are just attracted to people of their own gender, nothing they can control, that’s just the way it is.
He seemed fine with the answer and after the wedding he asked me directly if this particular relative of mine was gay (he saw him and his boyfriend holding hands). I told him yes and he just shrugged and said that was ok. And the recent dinner with the two of them and our boys at a family function was fine. And of course it was fine. I even felt bad warning Hudson that they were going to be there, because the more I make a deal out of it, the more Hud will question why I am making something out of it at all.
I know the playground gets meaner and more and more insults will be randomly thrown at my boys that are rooted in bigotry and hatred. Arming them against this malevolence with real examples and open, honest dialogue is all I can do.
I am pretty sure my boys are not gay, but I have no idea. I honestly do not know how I would handle that discussion. I guess I will try and be as open as I claim to be here.
Hud is nine and I let him drive the conversation about sexuality – I answer what he wants, asks if he wants more and than let it go.
As parents, has this topic come up and how did you manage it?