On Monday night we came home with the anti-anxiety medication for Jeremy’s needle.
“One of these is a truth serum,” I joked. “I’m going to ask you all sorts of questions and you won’t be able to lie.”
Jeremy immediately shook his head. “I won’t answer any of your questions. You’re going to ask me who I’m interested in and I’m not going to tell you.”
“I don’t have to ask you,” I retorted. “I already know the answer. You have a deep, passionate love of ducks.”
As I hoped, Jeremy laughed. One of the shows (podcasts?) he watches on YouTube has someone who dislikes ducks, claiming they’re evil and vicious. Jeremy has followed that opinion. It’s turned into a long standing joke of ours.
“I’m not going to ask you who you’re interested in,” I replied more seriously. “You’ll sort things out on your own. You are at least thinking about who you’re interested in, right?”
We’d had a talk on Sunday after I finished writing Voluntary Blindness and then read it to him. At that point he admitted he still was trying his hardest not to think at all about what gender(s) he was interested in, although he was sure he’s male. I’d asked him to please think about it. A friend of mine asked me what he was scared of, considering how hard he was trying not to think of this. He insisted nothing.
Jeremy shook his head and I sighed.
“Jeremy, would you at least try to think about it?” He said he would but his tone wasn’t promising.
When Jeremy got home from school today, he immediately began talking about the Olympics. I told him that, while I’m never really into the Olympics, I’m avoiding it entirely this year because it’s in Russia.
He sat down beside me. “Why?” he asked curiously.
I went onto Facebook and clicked on a link my young coworker Brian had posted about beatings occurring in Russia. I’m warning you in advance it is horribly graphic. If you’re already dealing with depression or anxiety or have been attacked, please don’t click on the link.
We watched it in silence then Jeremy said, “If I was training for the Olympics and it was in Russia, I just wouldn’t go. I’d tell them they’d have to go with the next fastest person.”
I didn’t bother to get into the whole concept of training for hours every day for years in order to get into the Olympics. Instead I pointed out there are gay athletes in this Olympics. He thought for a moment.
“What country is it that kills gay people?” he asked.
“That would be Uganda,” I replied. “Although judging by that video, I don’t think Russia’s got any issues with it either. Every single one of those videos was uploaded to the internet and it doesn’t look like there was any repercussion faced by the people doing the attacking.”
He nodded then I read him my blog post from last night. He laughed at all the appropriate parts and admitted he didn’t remember most of it.
One of my friends asked me if he identifies as queer or questioning. I asked Jeremy this earlier in the week and he said he didn’t know, then he asked what the terms meant. I had to admit I wasn’t sure either so I asked my friend if zie had a good link with definitions. Zie didn’t, so last night while Jeremy was asleep, I looked up and found a page with a whole whack of definitions, at least half of them I’ve never heard of before.
“Remember you were asking about those definitions before,” I started.
“It doesn’t matter,” Jeremy interrupted. “I’ve figured out that I’m mostly interested in girls.”
“How did you figure that out?” I asked, trying not to sound too skeptical. “You told me on Monday that you weren’t paying any attention to who you were interested in. Can you tell me you’ve been doing some serious thinking over the past day?” He shrugged.
“Jeremy, I love you for who you are, not who you’re interested in. But I want you to be honest with yourself. If you’re straight that’s fine, so am I. If you’re bisexual or pansexual that’s fine too. Same with if you’re gay. But you need to be honest with yourself.”
I didn’t mention asexual because this is one term he’s adamantly insisted is not him.
I clicked open the link and started scrolling through the definitions, reading out any which seemed relevant.
“I know I’m skipping some,” I commented. “If you’re interested, you can go back and read them yourself. This term is supposed to identify me although I’d never use it because I have no idea how to pronounce it.”
The term’s cisgender and I have no clue whether it’s pronounced size-gender, siss-gender, or sizz-gender. I can’t see it starting with a hard c sound. But with three options for pronunciation (unless it’s one I haven’t come up with), it’s a lot easier just to say I’m female.
I read the definitions for both queer and questioning to him and he shrugged again.
“It doesn’t matter,” he repeated. “I’m straight.”
By this time I’d reached the end of my patience.
“Hold on,” I snapped. “Less than five minutes ago you were mostly straight and now you’re straight. Yet you still won’t think about who you’re interested in. That doesn’t make any sense.”
“Why won’t you believe me?” he asked angrily.
“Which time am I supposed to believe you?” I asked back. “When you told me you’re bisexual? When you told me you’re straight? When you told me you’re mostly straight? I can’t believe them all. Am I supposed to believe you right now that you’re straight?”
“Yes,” he said hesitantly. His gaze slid away from mine.
“Jeremy, don’t worry so much about labels. Why not just stick with questioning until you sort things out more?” I asked. I got another shrug then he turned on his video game, effectively ending the conversation.
I find myself trying to support Jeremy while feeling like I’m standing on sand. I don’t want him to think I don’t believe him but which Jeremy do I believe? The Jeremy who says he’s straight and talks about someday when he has a wife? The Jeremy who says he’s bisexual and shyly expresses an interest in the 9th doctor in Doctor Who? The Jeremy who showed extreme disappointment when I casually mentioned the local gay bar closed (it’s on my bus route to work) because he was planning on going there some day? Who watched a music video with me which showed two young men kissing then admitted he couldn’t stop thinking about them? Who asks which countries would be safe for him to visit someday, you know, the gay friendly ones? Who dyed his hair purple and refers to himself as “fab-u-lous”? It’s like I’m raising a kaleidoscope of Jeremy’s.
I have loved this kid his whole life. I loved him when he was a wide eyed toddler taking his baby doll for a walk. I loved him when he was a preschooler who could (and did) spend hours in the snow driving his dinky cars around. I loved him and supported him when I talked to his school (repeatedly) about bullying.
“Jeremy is being called a he-she again on the playground and he doesn’t like it. Can you please talk to the students and get it to stop?”
I loved him when he had a crew cut and I loved him when he had shoulder length hair and everyone told me how pretty my daughter was. Looking back, he actually was very pretty.
I have tried my hardest to show him that I love him and I hope I’ve succeeded. I just don’t know how to show him I’m here for him, no matter what he comes out as.
I should also add that I read this post to Jeremy before publishing it and has been “Jeremy approved” with him claiming it earned ten out of ten waffles. I have no idea what that means but he sounded quite positive when he said it so I’m assuming that’s good. He does like waffles.