Years ago, Jeremy was invited to a birthday party. He had a great time and his friend’s Mom made sure to take several pictures on Jeremy’s camera so I could see the fun too.
I stopped by their place several weeks later and we sat, chatting in the living room. After a while the conversation turned to her son’s birthday and she commented that they’d watched some sort of sporting event during the party and there’d been cheerleaders.
“Jeremy was absolutely glued to the screen when the cheerleaders came on,” she assured me, entirely unprompted. “You don’t have to worry about him. He’s not like that, he likes girls.”
I don’t know which was worse, that she thought I was worried or that she made it sound like this was a long standing conversation of ours, one where I was frantically worried about Jeremy’s sexual orientation. We weren’t the only two in the room, she had another friend visiting who, as a lesbian, was like that. So there I was, trying not to yell at my friend while also trying not to give her friend the impression that I was dancing for joy over my son’s apparent straightness. I ended up in a stammering, tongue tangled mess.
Okay, it couldn’t have been that bad of a mess because I ended up staying friends with both of them, but it felt like it at the time. It was one of those “please let a hole open beneath me and swallow me whole” moments. Entirely awkward and entirely unnecessary.
Over the years I’ve had several such conversations regarding Jeremy, where someone’s taken it upon themselves to try and reassure me that I shouldn’t worry. Unlike my friend, they don’t actually come out and say what they’re worried about but it’s pretty obvious. They also make this announcement in a tone usually reserved for one that ends in “… it’s probably not fatal”. It’s obvious they’re expecting me to be worried and figure I have pretty good reason.
And they’re right in one way, I am worried. But it’s their attitude that worries me, not Jeremy. Their attitude is the one that says a teenager shouldn’t come out because they’re just confused. Their attitude is one that would never let their boy paint his nails or wear pink flip flops or pull on a dress (even at home). Their attitude is one which thinks it’s normal and a sign of affection when a man and a woman hold hands but a political statement if two men or two women do the same.
I love Jeremy just the way he is. I agree with him that he’s completely fabulous. I just wish the rest of the world could be a little more welcoming.
I did a little light reading this week and found a blog entry with similar concerns as mine, titled It could be worse, and an article on Huffington Post titled 10 Ways to Support Your Gay Kid. Both are worth reading.