If You Are Gay

This summer the whole family has really gotten into Netflix’s Queer Eye series, where five gay men transform the lives of people who need a boost. Chris started watching it first, and he said it was a truly great show, so the kids and I piled onto his bandwagon and it has been our family show ever since.

The other night we were watching the episode where Jonathan returns to his hometown of Quincy, Illinois, to makeover his high school music teacher. While most of the episode is the series’ usual mix of upbeat and encouraging (our favorite aspect of the show), at one point Jonathan mentions that he was bullied while growing up. At that moment, a lightbulb went off in my head:

I am so lucky to be raising my kids here and now.

If any of my six kids are gay, they likely won’t face nearly as much negativity as past generations suffered. As a parent in a big American city, I don’t have to worry as much about my kids being teased or shunned simply because of the sexuality they were born with. I can’t imagine the stress of raising kids in a time or place where being gay was a reason to abandon, disown or ignore a family member. I can’t imagine the heartbreak of parenting a gay child who was shamed into hiding or suicide. It is too much sadness to bear.

In the middle of the episode, I paused the show and looked directly at my kids and I made a very direct comment to them: If you are gay, Dad and I don’t care. We will love you just the same. We will cuddle you just the same. We will want you to be a part of our family just the same. It doesn’t matter to us, as long as you are happy.

Fortunately, we don’t personally know anyone who doesn’t believe gay rights are human rights, which is remarkable for me as a person and as a parent. I know my kids are surrounded by people who will love them no matter what. I hear about bigots on the news, but they just aren’t a part of my family’s everyday reality.

What a relief.

What a privilege.

We (finally) enjoy enhanced freedoms here in America, but it is important to remember that in many parts of this country and the world people still suffer greatly. The fight for gay rights is far from over, but it has come such a long way in my 39 years on the planet. Thank you to everyone past and present who struggled and supported. Your work made it easier for my kids to be who they were born to be.

Open-hearted and open-minded. Gay or straight.

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