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Thursday, October 6, 2011

O Brave New World!

Posted by on Thu, Oct 6, 2011 at 2:40 PM

That has such parents in it!

I wrote an essay about my oldest son and his love of a popular gay television character, Glee's Blaine, and how this crush led to him telling me he wanted to kiss boys, not girls. I naively posted it to a blog, thinking some fans of the show might think it was cute.

Within 24 hours it had been reposted and "liked" over 30,000 times on the blog's website. It wasn't long before messages started flooding in, other websites began posting it and people were commenting. The response was overwhelming positive. What I thought was a simple story about my kid and our family had clearly stuck a chord with a lot of people.

It also made some people uncomfortable. Of the criticisms, the most common is that my son is six years old and doesn't know anything about sex. While I fully acknowledge this may not be the end-all-and-be-all to my son's sexual orientation, I object to the idea that being gay is only about sexual acts. Our emotions and feelings, our attractions and compulsions, all contribute, not just our body parts. If my son had a crush on the star of iCarly, I doubt people would be saying he was too young to have those sexual feelings towards a girl. I think they would think it was an innocent schoolboy crush, which is exactly what it is.

Plus, for every comment I've read saying my son is too young, I have received multiple messages from adults saying "I knew when I was little, too."

It got me thinking and after awhile I started to feel like I knew this big secret that shouldn't be a secret at all: Every gay adult used to be a gay kid. It's not as if all children start off as straight until some time later when someone flips the gay switch. We are who we are from the very moment we are born.

Go read the whole thing.


Comments (29) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
Classy post, classy Shakespeare reference.
Posted by The Cap'n on October 6, 2011 at 2:53 PM · Report this
merry 2
"We are who we are from the very moment we are born."

Yes. This is what the Choicers just fail to comprehend, and it is the truth, it is reality, it is the Way Things Are.

The Choicers have taken a loud and strenuous stand against reality. And that's the real reason that they are on the wrong side of history and will never 'win' - they pit themselves and their feeble construct against reality itself.

"We are who we are from the very moment we are born." Yes.
Posted by merry on October 6, 2011 at 2:56 PM · Report this
Vince 3
When I was seven I loved the men's locker room at the pool more than anyplace on earth. I couldn't believe how beautiful men were. I didn't know about sex for another five years. Humans are sexual beings.
Posted by Vince on October 6, 2011 at 2:57 PM · Report this
I am a straight, married man. When I was 5, I was more than happy to inform friends and family that I had every intention of marrying Donny Osmond.
Posted by LJM on October 6, 2011 at 2:59 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 5
I object to the idea that being gay is only about sexual acts. Our emotions and feelings, our attractions and compulsions, all contribute, not just our body parts. If my son had a crush on the star of iCarly, I doubt people would be saying he was too young to have those sexual feelings towards a girl. I think they would think it was an innocent schoolboy crush, which is exactly what it is.

Plus, for every comment I've read saying my son is too young, I have received multiple messages from adults saying "I knew when I was little, too."

Hells to the yeah. I once challenged Seattleblues on this point and he basically weaseled out of it, denying having feelings of any kind as a boy of that age.

I vividly remember a picture of a woman in a bikini snorkeling that was in my sister's magazine (some scholastic thing). Not very attractive, and not from any kind of flattering angle, but I got such an erection. I was 7. On the other hand, some baseball player posing for an underwear ad in Sports Illustrated left me feeling kind of cold.
Posted by Matt from Denver on October 6, 2011 at 3:07 PM · Report this
I remember being six year old in a day camp during the summer and having a huge crush on the camp counselor, who was probably sixteen. About a year later, I had a crush on a boy in my second grade class. I had no idea what sex was--that was still years in the future. All I knew was that Danny and Van made my heart flutter.
Posted by Clayton on October 6, 2011 at 3:14 PM · Report this
by the time i was 6, i was asking (in confusion) all of my friends, "Do you like to see boys naked, or girls naked? I just don't see what girls have..."
Posted by Adrian Ryan on October 6, 2011 at 3:15 PM · Report this
Of course, the very same doctrine damns the sometimes incompetent to irrelevance for "we are what we are from ripping forth from the womb." That's such a meagre way of understanding it, the realities of life; there are a million and one influences in one's life far beyond one's genetic background and the vaginal conditions of one's conception and gestation. And, the danger of such hereditary thinking is that ultimately, some among our polis may seek to turn off something resembling a "gay gene." I honestly don't believe in that sort of universe; and sensibly I don't believe being gay is a choice--as much as being an alcoholic or a figure for epic poetry is a choice. Honestly, I can speak more sensibly about the influences in my life post gestation than I can of that before; and if I lament anything, it is not my hereditary background.
Posted by Central Scrutinizer on October 6, 2011 at 3:20 PM · Report this
My son was three years old when he told his dad that he liked girls in bathing suits, that he liked to give them hugs. There is no "magic" switch that gets turned straight or gay when you hit puberty. You are wired as you are wired. It will be a blessed day when all the "Christians" figure that out and stop hating in the name of Jesus.
Posted by SeattleKim on October 6, 2011 at 3:22 PM · Report this
I Hate Screen Names 10
When I turned six, I only invited girls I had crushes on to my birthday party. I had no clue what sex was or any desire to have sex; I just knew that I liked certain girls.

Why are homophobes so obsessed with teh gay buttseks? My six-year-old self having crushes on little girls was cute and innocent, but another six-year-old boy having the same feelings for little boys is perverted and sexual? What the fuck?
Posted by I Hate Screen Names on October 6, 2011 at 3:55 PM · Report this
Good for her! For more, this might be a nice moment to see what recent contributors to bornthisway have been up to....
Posted by gloomy gus on October 6, 2011 at 4:05 PM · Report this
Yeah, the great Problem That Has No Name is that anti-gay people usually do think that there is something wrong with being gay -- either a perversion or twisting of something that should develop differently, or a 'gay switch' that was inadvertently flipped, or something.

Because of that, a 7-year-old boy having a crush on girls is simply being cute or innocent, while a 7-year-old boy having a crush on boys is showing a symptom, and one that should call parents' attention to the need for treatment.

Isn't that how they see it?
Posted by ankylosaur on October 6, 2011 at 4:11 PM · Report this
I had my first big crush on a boy when I was four; I had my first big crush on a girl when I was seven. I loved reading this. I wish that my mom had fought for me, rather than going to a bunch of choicer websites and telling me that I could change.

Thankfully, over the last eight years, she's come around. Every baby step was a fight, and she still has trouble, but things are so much better.
Posted by Namae nante iranai! on October 6, 2011 at 4:22 PM · Report this
rob! 14
@5 "...some baseball player..."

That would be Jim Palmer.

XD. Sorry if I gave you a sudden chill, but thanks for the memories.
Posted by rob! on October 6, 2011 at 4:46 PM · Report this
sikandro 15
While I don't think that being gay is a choice any more than being straight is a choice, I do think it's a very dangerous strategy to push the "born this way," line. Partly for the reasons that @8 mentioned, but partly because innate characteristics can easily become the grounds for increased discrimination and prejudice, rather than the intended opposite.
Posted by sikandro on October 6, 2011 at 5:05 PM · Report this
kim in portland 16
Have compassion, act with integrity, and know yourself. As a parent I can't hope for anything more for our kids. I can't imagine wanting anything more. We get to start them for the world, the finish is in their hands.
Posted by kim in portland on October 6, 2011 at 5:23 PM · Report this
Jason Josephes 17
Curb Your Enthusiasm tackled this subject recently. I don't think it was ever mentioned on Slog, but if it was my apologies for the repost.…
Posted by Jason Josephes on October 6, 2011 at 5:30 PM · Report this
It strikes me as unfortunate that she feels the need to write under a pseudonym, but that doesn't detract from either her sentiments or the way she expresses them, both of which are spot-on.

Parents like her give me hope for humanity's future.
Posted by Functional Atheist on October 6, 2011 at 5:56 PM · Report this
Xenos 19
Brilliant piece, simply brilliant. I think that what many people fail to understand or remember is the difference between being homosexual and being gay. If they are used interchangeably, it is only because of the difficulty in separating a person's interactions with others from the size of their hypothalamus. We are indeed sexual beings, as Vince has pointed out; but it is worth remembering that we are also social beings. I think Melle Mel said it best:

A child is born with no state of mind/blind to the ways of mankind.
Posted by Xenos on October 6, 2011 at 7:09 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 20
@ 14, that's the one! And you're welcome.
Posted by Matt from Denver on October 6, 2011 at 7:40 PM · Report this
@18, I think it's reasonable for someone who writes about family issues to use a pseudonym. Given that her first column went viral, she could have gotten a lot of unwanted attention to her family.

If your point is that it's sad that she should have to, then I agree.
Posted by clashfan on October 6, 2011 at 9:45 PM · Report this
Let this be written on my TV, computer, my front door, and my T-shirt.

"No, you are not allowed to say those things in front of my children"

I can't protect them forever, but while they're under 10, I'm going to do my damndest to make sure they hear mostly intelligent, healthy stuff. And that does not include anti-gay hate speech pretending to be politics.
Posted by Phil H on October 6, 2011 at 10:04 PM · Report this
venomlash 23
@22: Yeah, how are we supposed to protect our kids from knowing about the existence of stupid people? Oh wait.
"Hey, little Billy? See those people saying mean things about people they know nothing about? Don't be like that."
"Okay, Pa."
Posted by venomlash on October 6, 2011 at 10:38 PM · Report this
I almost felt guilty afterwards for following the link to an interview with the woman who provided the voice of Jem.
Posted by vennominon on October 7, 2011 at 4:42 AM · Report this
John Horstman 25
"We are who we are from the very moment we are born."

Oh for fuck's sake: this sexuality essentialism is absurd on its face, and the fact that it continues to get so much play in a movement that really should know better (considering it's challenging other essentialist cultural notions, like the idea that heterosexuality is THE "natural" state for humans or that gender is biologically determined in line with chromosomes). We aren't born with any knowledge of gender identity, infant genital configurations other than our own, any adult genital configurations, specific sexual acts, nor adult sexualities of any sort. ALL of these are constructed (or at least inflected) be cultural conditions. It may very well be the case that some people are born with genetic predispositions that, in a particular cultural environment e.g. Region X of USA circa 2011, will make those people far more likely to eventually identify as gay. This is not the same thing as being "born gay" in any sense.

Perhaps people are not aware of how much socialization takes place in the first couple years of life. For example, think about language. Languages are obviously different across cultures. People learn them differently sometimes within a particular cultural sphere, though most language use across people in a particular cultural delineation falls within a relatively narrow standard deviation. Even though we label languages as discrete, uniform constructs, they're actually spectra of ways for people to communicate. Nobody is born speaking English, although almost everybody is born with the ability to learn a language (or several) simply by existing in an environment in which a language is frequently used, usually to a recognizable degree within a couple years of life. And, of course, the fact that I had to learn English doesn't make anything about my speaking English less authentic or any more of a conscious "choice" than were it to have been something I was born speaking.

Gender, sexuality, etc. are all the same sort of process. Ditch the stupid essentialist arguments: they're bad models for how things actually work and as such are going to hurt more than help in the long run. Put your efforts toward getting people to understand that the fact that something isn't entirely or primarily biological isn't the same thing as that being a free "choice".

@8, 15: Dear god, thank you.
Posted by John Horstman on October 7, 2011 at 11:00 AM · Report this
I gotta say, seeing this mom's postings has made my heart sing!

THIS is the reality of children - all children! Every child feels those innate attractions going on, to the opposite sex, or the same sex. BUT, it ain't ABOUT sex (as she so perfectly states). We can't explain it as a child, but we also can't deny it.

I've always felt like saying to the homophobes:

"Well, we haven't isolated the STRAIGHT gene yet either...
Why do gay people have to have some kind of proof?"

xo Paul V., LA CA
Posted by Paul V. on October 7, 2011 at 11:59 AM · Report this
Of course it's (partly) about sex. Humans are sexual beings from birth and experience sexual attraction, unless they're asexual.

@19: What are you talking about? There isn't a difference except that 'homosexual' is the older term and is somewhat offensive.
Posted by BlackRose on October 7, 2011 at 9:07 PM · Report this
Xenos 28
@27 What I was trying to distinguish was the difference between the sexual and the social body. As long as there have been humans, there have been those who have had sexual contact with those of the same sex (homosexuals, narrowly speaking); but the idea of being gay and what precisely that entails has changed considerably over time, informed by social relations. Plato's understanding of same sex relations is substantially different from that of say, British sailors in the 18th century, or Americans in the early 20th century, or today for that matter.

You may be born with certain biological predispositions for same-sex attraction; but after that- you're left to the prejudices, norms, assumptions, etc of the society you occupy.
Posted by Xenos on October 8, 2011 at 1:14 PM · Report this
Fortunate 30
@29 Many find the term offensive, but not all. The reason is that it has been hijacked by the religious right in an effort to focus on behavior rather than sexual orientation and identity.

"Homosexual" is a clinical term. And clinically being Homosexual was once considered a diagnosis of a mental disorder. Right wing conservatives in the US use the term to try to hearken back to that idea.

To them Homosexuality is about what you do. By focusing on behavior they can try to make the claim that a Homosexual can change to a Heterosexual simply by choosing to sleep with people of the opposite gender instead of the same gender. They avoid dealing with the fact that mentally the person is never going to achieve the same enjoyment, satisfaction, or emotional contentment that a more holistic approach to sexuality would demand be addressed.

"Gay" is the term that people generally use when thinking more holistically about people with same sex attraction. "Homosexual" is a term that technically should be neutral, but because it has been adopted by right wing extremists in order to focus on only behaviors and reduce the issue of same sex attraction to nothing but physical acts of sex so as to try to present it in a negative light as a disorder, the terms has taken on a negative and pejorative aspect for many people.
Posted by Fortunate on October 11, 2011 at 8:16 AM · Report this

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