it happens a lot.
maybe it’s because they can tell I’m a dad. or maybe it’s because they, too, can tell I’m the same as them.
I see them from time-to-time. and if you’re honest, you do too. the way they look. dress. walk. gesture:
a future gay.
some people look hatefully or disapprovingly at these kids, wanting them to hate who they are, thinking it will make them change. believing that shame will “correct.”
I see them too but look at them with empathy, remembering a bit of what it was like to be so different and so confused about who I was. (my experience was different than it is now. there was hardly ANY exposure to gay men in the media to identify with except “Three’s Company” and he only pretended to be gay and “Soap” which I wasn’t allowed to watch. at least now youth can see there are a lot of us and that at the very least they are not alone.)
so tonight I see this young teenager out with his family–mom, stepdad, and little
sister. he’s dressed far too coordinated and stylish compared to most boys his age. has a near flamboyant walk. he talks with his hands.
I’m sitting with my boyfriend adjacent to them. he notices us and notices that I notice. but he doesn’t act like he’s scared to death by us. (this could just be a well taught, good mannered hetero but hey, we Are in the south.)
he makes eye contact a couple more times and the 2nd time I instinctively return a polite but knowing–and earnestly reassuring–smile back, hoping he would hear me say “it’s ok. you will be ok! you go ahead and be who you are and stand proud and strong.” (i know: that’s a lot crammed into a slight, half-second acknowledgement.)
I guess it’s part a dad thing…the same
sorta thing I hope someone does or says to my sons when they’re not feeling confident in or are doubting themselves.
but it’s very definitely partially bcz I relate so strongly to what he may be feeling. hoping his family–particularly his dad–love and accept him
unconditionally, whether they “know” or not (and most parents Do). hoping he has loving, accepting friends (most of us have lots of friend-girls but sometimes we’re unwelcome by
our own gender). and hoping he has someone to talk to who will assure him he there’s nothing wrong with him and that shame has no place in his life; that, as Fort Worth city councilman Joel Burns encouraged, “it will get better.” (a must watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ax96cghOnY4&sns=tw)
as he walked away, he turned back one more time. and half-smiled.
maybe he was just curious about seeing an interracial couple, in a normal setting, having a normal dinner, one giving the other a quick kiss goodbye when it was time for him to go.
or maybe he heard me.
I hope it was both.
[composed in the food court on my cellular device.]