The popular songs…

“Jeremy, you should have a shower before you get dressed.”

Jeremy looked over at me then sighed. “Fine, I guess,” he muttered then he grabbed his portable radio/CD player off the desk.

“What’s that for?” I asked and he rolled his eyes.

“Mom, I need music while I’m in the shower,” he replied then he headed off.

He was back less than five minutes later; bone dry, still in pjs, and obviously irritated.

“Every song on the radio these days is some guy wanting to have sex with some girl and I don’t want to hear it.”

I nodded. “So, what are you going to do?” I asked cautiously. Jeremy’s temper’s been uncertain lately.

“I’m going to listen to my MP3 player,” he announced. He grabbed it off the counter and stomped back toward the bathroom.

A minute later, video game songs blared then Jeremy returned after a while, combing his sopping wet hair.

“You know what I don’t get? Those songs, all the guys just want sex and all the girls just want money.”

“It doesn’t sound like much of a relationship,” I agreed. He nodded.

“It sounds more like prostitution. He’s paying her and she’s giving him sex.”

At least he’s thinking.

And now we’re off to try out the local Japanese restaurant. Miso soup and hot and sour soup are waiting…

Emma’s stand…

I read an article via the Raising my Rainbow Facebook page, titled This Gay 12-Year-Old Reveals Challenges for LGBT Youth In America. I read about his issues with an overnight school trip and immediately thought of Emma.

Back when Emma was in grade eight (which is the last year of elementary school where we live) her teachers and principal decided to have a school sleepover for the senior students. It was going to be a fun and exciting camp out in the gym. The kids would bring sleeping bags and mattresses, eat camp food, and listen to ghost stories.

Emma was wildly unpopular in grade school. Of course, being unpopular meant she missed the school yard gossip, including the latest information on the school bus. I’d pulled her off that bus and was sending her to school via the city bus, it gave both of us some peace of mind. But that also meant that when Emma’s classmate got outed as bisexual on the way to school, Emma was the last to know.

Emma’s classmate had confided in a friend she thought she could trust. Instead that friend yelled her new-found knowledge across the crowded school bus. This information spread through the school yard, the whole senior class knew within minutes of the buses arrival.

Emma’s city bus got her to the yard about ten minutes after everyone else arrived. By then the other girls were pointedly ignoring the classmate while loudly explaining why they wouldn’t sleep anywhere near her. Emma listened for a moment, just long enough to sort out what happened then marched over.

“Ignore them,” she told the classmate firmly. “You can put your sleeping bag next to mine.”

She told me this story almost as soon as she walked in the door from school. Horror and disgust radiated from her.

“Being gay or bisexual isn’t contagious. I don’t know why they’re acting like it is.”

The classmate got grounded shortly before the school sleepover and didn’t end up going. I’d like to think her mother realized how awkward the sleepover was going to be and simply kept her home but the reality was this classmate got grounded regularly. Emma and the classmate stayed friends while the girl lived in our complex, which wasn’t long; she moved before the end of the school year. And they had several sleepovers.

The blame game…

Jeremy didn’t put on socks when his sister and her boyfriend came over for their visit. Which was fine, except he was wearing bright red nail polish on his toes.

That was fine too, except when his sister mentioned he had polish on, his immediate response was…

“Mom made me wear it. She forced me to put it on.”

I pulled him aside and reminded him he’s a foot taller than me. I can’t force him to put on nail polish. He smiled sheepishly and apologized.

Then came his counseling appointment on Thursday. The counselor had me come in so we could sort out a few issues and figure out what goals we were all working toward. Then she mentioned Jeremy had something important to tell me.

“Your son wants you to know he’s straight. Completely, 100% straight.”

Jeremy nodded. “I’ve been trying to tell you this but you won’t listen to me and you keep bringing it up.”

I stared at him in astonishment then assured him I do listen but it’s hard when he keeps telling me different things. He glared.

“You put words in my mouth. I never said any of those things, you did.”

I was quiet for the rest of the session, mostly because I was furious.

“Fine, you’re straight,” I snapped once we got outside. “I won’t mention anything to do with sexual orientation again. But first I want a couple of answers. Why did you tell me you weren’t out anywhere?”

“Because I’m not,” he replied. “I don’t need to be out because I’m straight.”

“And when you told me you were bisexual? That wasn’t me putting words into your mouth.”

“I don’t know,” Jeremy wailed. “You keep saying I’m gay and I don’t know who I’m interested in.”

I restrained myself from hitting my head on the bus shelter wall, mostly because I ran out of pain medication and that would hurt.

“Jeremy, I have never said you were gay. I said you might be straight or bisexual, because those are the labels you mentioned, but I never once claimed you were anything else. And I’ve been after you for ages not to pin a label on yourself if you don’t know who you’re interested in. That if you feel you have to label yourself to stick with something like questioning for now.”

“Oh,” he said quietly.

“And can you please stop blaming me,” I added.

He nodded then he pulled on his headphones and proceeded to ignore me the rest of the way home.

So that’s where we are right now. Jeremy’s straight, well as straight as someone who has no idea who they’re interested in can get. And I’m scared to say anything in case it’s misconstrued. Fun times.

The best of intentions…

I talked to Jeremy’s teacher on Tuesday and asked her how the LGBT discussion went last week. She rather awkwardly informed me that it was more of an introduction than an actual discussion then she perked up and told me she’d been in touch with a wonderful doctor (whose name she could not remember). He’s coming on on some unspecified day for an open discussion on tolerance, acceptance and why being gay isn’t wrong.

She sat there quite proud of herself while I probably looked like I’d been smacked in the face with a dead fish. An open discussion… I mentioned this to my young coworker.

“Yeah, like that’ll be a good discussion,” he said dryly. “It’s always the idiots who talk the loudest.”

I double checked with Jeremy, just in case I’d misheard her but he agreed with me. Open discussion on whether being gay is wrong.

“How do you feel about this?” I asked hesitantly.

He shrugged. “It’s okay. If they want to say being gay’s wrong then I’ll just disagree with them.”

I have no idea when this discussion is occurring. I can’t help but hope his teacher either forgets about it or at the very least it goes a lot more positively than I think.

He went to his LGBTQ+ youth group that evening and came home cheerful but quiet.

“What did you do tonight?” I asked.

“We talked,” he replied.

“About?”

“Stuff.”

Yeah, not exactly informative. But he was cheerful and agreed he had a good time. Then came my question.

“Hon, you don’t have to tell me what your sexual orientation is. I’m not fishing about that. I’m just wondering… are you out in your group?”

He looked at me in surprise. “Mom, I’m not out anywhere.”

Apparently he’s consistent. “No one’s asked you there, right?”

He smiled and shook his head, his aqua hair bouncing against his cheeks. “Nope.”

To be fair, I figured that would be the case.

Emma’s boyfriend…

My daughter Emma has a boyfriend. In real life this isn’t news. They’ve been friends for years and have been dating for half a year now. I just don’t think I’ve mentioned this here before.

They came over for a visit today. As usual, her boyfriend, Mark, was friendly and cheerful. Jeremy was playing his Saint’s Row video game and Mark sat down to watch and offer suggestions, while listening to Jeremy’s explanations of what was happening. Then Emma asked if they could go to the mall. I didn’t need to go with them. I said that was fine and Jeremy jumped at the chance to go shopping.

They returned an hour later. Emma rushed over, eyes bright with excitement.

“Guess what Mark did?” she asked. She sat down beside me and continued before I could offer a reply. “This guy was in the line behind us and he started saying stuff about Jeremy’s hair and how weird and freaky it looked. Mark turned around and told him to keep his thoughts to himself and that if he said another word, Mark was going to punch him in the face.”

Mark stood in the doorway and smiled awkwardly. I gave him a thumbs up.

“Then what happened?” I asked.

Emma smiled. “The man shut up.”

I’m not a violent person at the best of times but my patience is wearing thin. I’m just glad to know Jeremy has someone willing to stand up for him when I’m not around.

An open letter…

I was talking to two people on Monday, within an hour of each other. Both identify as trans* and they each said something that hit me hard. I don’t think either meant to.

One is a friend of mine who’s dealing with mental health issues. Zie’s working through past events and one issue zie chose is zir “failure to be a girl”. The other is a young man I follow online (blog wise not stalking). I messaged him because he hadn’t been writing in a while and I wanted to make sure he’s okay. He assured me he was just busy with school work and was fine. He’d had a few bad days but many more good days, more than he deserved.

This post is for them.

There are a lot of things we don’t get to chose in life. We don’t chose where we’re born, our families, or our bodies. It’s a crap shoot and we deal with what we get. Some people luck out and some people don’t. Most of us land somewhere in the middle, with things we love about ourselves and things we hate. You didn’t pick your bodies or the hormones that flowed around you as an embryo. And, as a Mom, I didn’t pick the hormones my body produced while I was pregnant. That’s just life.

You are not a failure to be a girl. You are a success at being you; an amazing writer and a great friend. I know you have bad days. Days where you feel down… days where your voices natter at you, echoing your negative thoughts. But you’re not a failure, you’re simply not a girl. And that’s fine.

As for you… last I checked you’re a college student, struggling to balance school and extra-curricular activities. None of which, as far as I can tell, involve things like torturing kittens. So what’s this about more good days than you deserve?

Let’s face it, we all have bad days. That’s just life. But even if every single day you have turns out to be good, that’s as many good days as you deserve.

You both deserve good days.