What's [who you] Love Got to Do With It?
In my first trimester, before anybody knew our little secret, I was nurturing a special goal:
Grow the world's most excellent gay man in my uterus.
I watched endless hours of Queer as Folk, RuPaul's Drag Race, and Project Runway. I listened to tons of dance music. If it's possible to turn a fetus gay then, gosh darn it, I was going to make it happen.
Well, we all know how that turned out (cut to- look of terror on my face a few weeks later in the ultrasound room when the tech tells me I'm going to one day have a teenage DAUGHTER that will hate me).
Wait a minute... I WANT a gay son? Most people, no matter how open-minded, don't wish homosexuality on their kids since it inevitably leads to a more difficult life/adolescence. So let's rewind and get a glimpse into my upbringing.
The year is 1992. I am 9 years old. I watch MTV and VH1 every free minute. I see this, and my life changed forever:
I didn't know what "gay" was, let alone a Drag Queen, but I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that this was the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen. My mom tried to explain to me that this was a man dressed as a woman, but I didn't care; I had a new standard of beauty and this was it.
I met my first gay peer in junior high. Her name was Jessie, and at the time she identified as bisexual. She admitted to having a crush on me, but it never bothered me or kept me from being her friend (and she got over it and set her sights on other straight girls which she frequently successfully converted, even if only for a few weeks or months). She was one of the most honest and loyal people I ever had the pleasure of calling a friend. I saw how she struggled with both her sexuality and bullying. She was a self-harmer and did a lot of things that I'm sure she would say now were cries for help, but I always saw her as a person just like any other.
In high school I started finding myself drawn more toward male friends, and I also met my first openly gay male peers. Some of these men were out, some were in the closet. One of my out friends got slammed into some lockers or shoved against his car, but I'd say that overall my high school was pretty open and accepting. There was a social group that was happy to accept them (we were the freaks and geeks, indeed) or throw down if people tried to make it an issue. My junior year, I attended prom with a gay male friend.
In college I would meet the OTHER other half of my soul, the man who holds the largest place in my heart after my husband, my Joey. All the things that I loved that my husband didn't (dance music, clubbing, fashion, etc.) Joey loved, too. We played dress up, we shopped, we talked for hours on end. We took road trips. We danced and talked trash and did all the things that besties do. Joey may be loud and GAY, but he is also one of the most selfless, honest, and trustworthy people I've ever met in my life.
My husband calls me the gay whisperer. It's an interesting phenomenon: no matter where I go, if there is a gay man in the vicinity, he will find me and strike up a conversation. I don't do it on purpose. When bridesmaid's dress shopping for a friend, the gay man working as a consultant (not ours, just happened to be working in the store) found me and struck up a conversation about my tattoos. As a teacher the gay male students find me and start sharing their personal problems with me. I swear, I do not seek this out, but I welcome it.
So can you blame me for wanting to raise the type of person that (besides my husband who, aside from the whole being attracted to women thing, is almost an honorary gay) is my absolute favorite on this planet? I would love to raise a child who I can totally identify with (I find teenage girls to be truly terrifying and beyond comprehension). I could help him understand the inner workings of the male mind (far simpler than understanding a female). I would have no fear of him getting a girl pregnant as a teenager. Certainly it isn't easy to be a social minority, but I feel the long term benefits of NEVER having to try and have a relationship with a woman might be well worth it (does it seem like I'm being hard on my gender? Sorry, it's true).
In all seriousness we've come a long way as a society when it comes to acceptance of homosexuality. We still have a LONG way to go. When the film Milk was released a few years ago, I remember leaving the theater depressed. As far as we'd come in 2008 from that film, there was still so far to go. This past year our president has finally come out in support of equal rights for homosexuals. An openly gay woman has been elected to congress. Gay marriage has been protected by state constitutions in a number of places. When I was four months pregnant, I went to Universal Studios with Joey and three other gay men, two of whom were openly dating. They held hands, snuggled, and exchanged other little public displays of affection. I have been surrounded for so long by open-minded people, I was shocked to see the reaction of so many of the other park-goers. Admittedly, these two gay men would draw stares regardless of their sexuality with their body piercings and tattoos. But the glares? The snarls? The poorly concealed mumbles and grumbles of people as they walked past? I was astounded.
There are still a lot of people out there who will hate somebody just because of who they love, but this last election showed me that, just maybe, that group is starting to become a minority.
I have a daughter, and I want the best for her in all things. I remember holding her that first day and telling her she would never have a reason to cry or frown as long as I was around.
That was the hormones talking.
Life may be easier for you if you're beautiful, straight, Christian, popular, whatever, but it doesn't mean that it's better. I have learned so much about life and how to improve myself through handling adversity. As long as the people who matter to me love and accept me, I can face down the glares or judgment of the people who don't.
What I want for my daughter, above all things, is for her to always know that she is loved and accepted. I need her to know that she is always allowed and encouraged to be herself. I hope that, by the time she is my age, she will look at this time of anti-gay sentiment the same way that my generation looks at racism against african americans (it exists, but our government and a majority of people no longer look at them as second class citizens).
I hope my daughter is happy. I hope she chooses her friends based on the quality of their character. I hope she stands up for what she knows is right and that she stares down adversity like the surmountable hurdle that it is. I hope that she looks back on her relationship with her parents and can honestly say that, though we might have had our ups and downs, she never doubted that we loved and encouraged her and only ever wanted the best for her.
In the meantime I will continue to watch gay shows with my daughter. I will make sure she knows that who you love is a personal decision that shouldn't be influenced by how other people will react. Maybe, if I take her to enough drag shows and watch enough Queer as Folk with her, she might end up like her mom: a gay man trapped in a straight woman's body.