Recently I got a lot of Facebook love for a quip I made about wanting to turn my son gay. It was in reference to someone else’s snark about how the god botherers are worried everything will turn their kids gay. It was meant to be satirical, so like all good satire it was almost entirely true.
“Lemme tell you, I’ve tried and tried to make my son gay. I raised him in San Francisco. I never put him in sports. I encouraged music and drama. I made him watch Cabaret… nothing. The damn boy insists on being straight. I put him through 9 years of episcopalian boys’ school, for fuck’s sake. Even though we are atheists! I’ve tried to explain that if he insists on being a musician, he could use a husband to support him. I’ve exposed him ad nauseum to the gay agenda. Nada. Now I’ve got a long haired, neon skinny jeans wearing, guitar playing straight teenaged boy on my hands, with nothing to look forward to but years of *girlfriends*. GIRLFRIENDS. The very thing I wanted to avoid.
I am here to tell everyone, I am living proof that you can’t make a child gay.”
Every detail there is actually true, except that I never would try to make my son be anything. (Also, he did do one year of soccer in 1st grade, but that was his father’s fault. And he hated it.) It has always seemed to me an absolutely unforgivable parental abuse to deny one’s own child for being gay. Or straight. I would really struggle if one of my kids came out as Republican, but I can’t see disowning them. Thankfully the capacity to use logic and reason seems to be somewhat genetic, so neither has shown any dangerous conservative tendencies. But I would still love them.
Before I became a mother I was confused as to why even some liberal parents would hope their kids didn’t turn out gay. I was told that it was because they wouldn’t wish them to be discriminated against, which makes some sense, but never really washed for me. However, your perspectives on parenting issues often do change significantly after actually becoming a parent, so once my baby boy was born I wracked my brain trying to decide if it would bother me, even the slightest little bit if he turned out to be gay. I examined numerous scenarios, and I just couldn’t see a downside. I wouldn’t just accept a gay son, I think I’d be happy about it. The statistics on the percentage of the population that is gay are questionable, but it is pretty safe to say that the odds of getting lucky are against you. Only a small percentage of mothers are fortunate enough to get a gay son.
Periodically as he grew I would revisit the question in my mind. Would it bother me? At all? And all I could think is “What is not to love?” I wouldn’t have to deal with teenaged girlfriends, that is one big plus. I was a teenaged girl, and I knew plenty of them, and in general? Not a fan. Ditto that I would not have to worry about PREGNANT teenaged girlfriends. Big plus. He is very good with children, so it is likely he will want to be a dad, but that is hardly even an issue anymore. Gay guys have strong networks of friends, and a wonderful culture. And they love their moms. I could SO live with that.
I fantasized about my gay son. He would be gorgeous, of course. He would always know he was accepted by his family, so he would be unconflicted about his sexuality. He would have a series of fun boyfriends, like Lorenzo, who would do my hair. We would go out to tea, my gay son and I. And sometimes brunch, so long as they serve late. We are NOT morning people. Eventually he would meet a nice, quiet boy with a good paying, yet meaningful career. Perhaps a pediatrician. And even though my son would sometimes forget to call me, Josh would be the type to keep in touch and send me endless pictures of the grandchildren.
Of course we love the children we have, not the ones we imagine. Yet for years I tried to ignore the little signs that he might be straight. I told myself that there was plenty of time for him to discover the truth about his orientation, yet I think I always knew. My dream died about a year or so ago when we were backing up his laptop and found some porn in his browser history. Straight porn. I was a little bit crushed. I thought he might just be experimenting, but I knew the odds were not in my favor. I live in San Francisco. I grew up in a gay resort community. My gaydar is above average for a basically straight woman. I had to face the fact that my sweet little boy was straight. His tastes in clothing are certainly… different. He is definitely not a macho guy. He still hates sports and wants to be a musician. He wears his hair long these days and has a wry, artistic sensibility. He doesn’t care what people think of how he dresses, or behaves. He is unconcerned with being popular. He plays guitar. And sings. On stage. In front of people. He is an unabashed nerd.
He is really, really cool.
Holy beer-battered Christ on a stick, I have inadvertently created teenaged girl catnip.
So I utterly love the boy I have. Yet there is a part of me that mourns the gay son I don’t have. It hardly seems fair that there are women out there who are lucky enough to hear the words, “Mom, I’m gay.” and instead of being properly grateful, they turn him out of their home. Those mothers don’t deserve to have a gay son.
But maybe, somewhere out there, there is an unloved gay boy who needs a mom.
We could do brunch.