Jeremy started speech therapy when he was three years old and one of the first things his therapist added was gender recognition. Basically Jeremy stunk at it, he had no idea who was a boy or a girl and he really didn’t much care either way. While he didn’t care, other people were getting irritated at being called “he” when they were female or “she” when they were male so I figured this was a good idea.
I was out with Jeremy shortly after he started therapy. I can’t remember what he did; maybe he was carrying a baby doll or stuffed animal or was wearing some article of clothing usually found in the girl’s department. Whatever it was, he ended up receiving a double take followed by a loud snicker.
I looked at my innocent child who still had no real concept of gender and realized he was getting judged over something he didn’t even understand.
Three years later I went to take out our recycling and Jeremy volunteered to join me. It was a sunny spring afternoon and Jeremy skipped along beside me, chattering away. Then he asked if he could marry Albert when he grew up.
This was back in 2003. We live in Ontario, Canada and same-sex marriage was being heatedly discussed. At the time it looked like it was going to be legal soon but the official legalization didn’t happen for another month. Meanwhile Jeremy was oblivious to the drama and debate.
I looked into his trusting eyes and said “Yes, of course” while hoping that would be true very soon.
I knew homophobia and transphobia existed but until then it was more of an abstract issue, something I disapproved of but also something that didn’t affect my life in any way. Then I had Jeremy.
Soon I was getting teary requests from him to tell the kids at school not to call him a he-she anymore.
“What does he-she mean Mommy?”
Then came the name-calling… “Mommy? What’s a faggot?”
When a kid’s still young enough to be calling you Mommy, those are not words you should need to explain. Especially when they’re being aimed at him.
I wanted Jeremy to have the same privileges and acceptance as Emma and it hurt to know that probably wasn’t going to be the case. He had two more crushes that year, one on another boy (who he tearfully told Emma had broken his heart) and another on a little girl (a spunky short haired girl who loved Hot Wheels and always wore clothes from the boys department).
Then there were no more crushes for several years until Tina came along. Shortly after this a friend of mine commented that Jeremy was very definitely straight and had been asking him for advice on girls.
The teasing continued but I slowly began to relax. Kids tease, that’s an unfortunate occurrence in life. I’m not condoning it and I’m not saying it should happen, just that it does and will continue until we someday get better at teaching and modeling empathy and respect. But teasing slowly fades as we become adults. With Jeremy being straight, I didn’t have as many worries. When he eventually started dating he could hold hands anywhere with no dirty looks and a kiss goodbye would be simply that, not a call to arms. His life would be a lot easier.
I say slowly because there was a little voice inside me saying “I’m not so sure about this”. I squashed that voice ruthlessly. Jeremy said he was straight, he even eventually found a girlfriend, and my friend (who’s been with his husband for Jeremy’s whole life) said Jeremy was straight. Who was I to say otherwise?
“His mother”, the voice whispered back. I ignored that as well.
Then came last summer, which I wrote about in my introduction post, when Jeremy came out as bisexual. Over the past few months, Jeremy has referred to himself as bisexual, partly gay, mostly interested in women, and straight… often while explaining that he was trying his hardest not to think about guys at all.
Now Jeremy emphatically informs me he’s completely 100% straight and I find myself torn. He’s gone through so many rapid changes over the past half a year, I find myself confused and not sure what to believe. Then he’s mad because he feels I’m not listening to him.
I was sitting on the bus a couple of days ago and thought to myself, “Okay, so Jeremy says he’s straight and I need to believe him. Jeremy is straight.” My immediate reaction was overwhelming relief. I hadn’t realized until then how scared I was for him.
It was a few years ago that my friend informed me that Jeremy’s straight. Then he told me I should be grateful.
In the summer, shortly after Jeremy came out, I met up with a young friend of mine. Directly before telling me about his new boyfriend, he looked me in the eye and hoped that Jeremy would be lucky and find a girlfriend instead of a boyfriend.
I love Jeremy. Whether he’s gay, straight, or bisexual he’s still the same kid. Thankfully, one thing I can say is that I’ve always treated him the same no matter which sexual orientation he was claiming at the time (this remark has been confirmed by Jeremy). But, at the same time, I want him to have as safe a life as possible.
I find it hard to believe Jeremy when he says he’s straight. Not just because of that little voice, which still whispers quietly to me, but because I’m scared to relax my guard and not worry about him so much.
It both infuriates me and brings me to tears that I feel this way. I shouldn’t have to feel this way. And the part which scares me the most is I think Jeremy feels the same way.