I’ve been seeing all these op-ed pieces lately on how it’s okay for boys to wear tutus. How no one is going to tell my son what he can and can’t wear. How girls can play with tractors so who cares if my son is breastfeeding his cabbage patch doll? EVERYBODY BE COOL.
Of course these articles are fine and good; I’m all for celebrating our three-year-old boys acting like drunk fairies. But there’s also a part of me who thinks: It’s 2015. Why are we still talking about this?
Last month in Folsom, California, 12-year-old Ronin Shimizu took his own life after being relentlessly bullied by his classmates for joining the cheerleading team. Not only did they shout gay slurs and physically assault him, he was called “disgusting” and told he was “going straight to hell.”
After years of this anti-gay assault, Ronin’s parents found their son dead in their home.
The police immediately ruled it suicide. No note was found.
It is so easy to live inside my safe bubble with my young, innocent babies and mugs of hot tea and think this world is safe. That we’ve come far enough. That we’ve made room for everyone.
Then when I hear stories of children being tormented over the idea that they might be gay, I am shocked and enraged. How could this happen? Why would anyone say such hateful things? What world is this?
There is still so much work to be done.
We need to make room. Room for our little boys with bright orange tutus and little girls with overalls and dump trucks. Room for change, safe places, and open arms. Room for the idea that we are not in control of our children’s sexuality any more than we’re in control of our own.
Recently a pair of identical twin teenage boys came out to their dad in a taped conversation that went viral on YouTube. What struck me the most about their story was not so much their father’s response, but the proof that who we are as sexual beings is in our DNA. That these identical pairs of genes led to the same sexuality. That who you love is, of course, not a choice.
Wearing tutus does not make you gay. Joining the cheerleading squad does not make you gay. Dressing up like a fairy or taking ballet or wearing bright pink does not make you gay. Being gay makes you gay. A difference in genetics, just like the color of your skin.
Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. A day we have set aside to celebrate a man who made room for a lot of people. Last month a 12-year-old boy took his life because there was no room for him. We remember his life today. We weep for his mother and all the other mothers who have lost their sons and daughters to hopelessness.
Let’s make room.
“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” – MLK