Yesterday, when college football player Michael Sam went public with his sexuality (and honestly, I hate that…straight people don’t have to announce they are straight, right?), it was a big news topic. Without getting into the story itself, on why he did it now, the timing, etc, I want to talk about the blip in the radar it had for my kids.
My 7 year old was reading the headline on the screen, which said something to the effect of ‘Football player Michael Sam comes out as a gay man’. He read the line, and turns to me and says, “Mommy, what’s ‘gay’?”
I froze for a second, but not because I didn’t want to have the conversation. On the contrary, I was glad he asked. His 5 year old brother was right there, so they both patiently waited for me to answer, with inquisitive looks on their faces.
We believe in answering our kids with real answers, not just deflecting ones, because the more knowledge (factual knowledge) they have early on, the better off they will be later in life (in our opinions). First I tried bringing up the people we know that are gay. We have a female cousin that is married to a wonderful girl, my husband’s brother has a brother-in-law that has had the same boyfriend for some time now. Our boys are very familiar with them, though it never really registered that they were ‘different’ than other relationships (in the eyes of the public, anyway). Our next-door neighbor is also a lesbian.
They weren’t really ‘getting it’, so instead, I did some comparisons. I said you know how Mommy is a girl, Daddy is a boy, we love each other and are married? They nodded yes. So I said, ok, well if Mommy was gay, then I would love a woman and marry a woman, and if Daddy was gay then he would love a man and marry a man. I asked if they understood that information.
They both contemplated for a couple seconds (I could see the wheels working, likely imagining each of us in that scenario), and then simply said, “Ok!”, and then went on to ask me the next question on a completely different topic.
They had no qualms. No concerns. No issues with it. They just knew that people loved people, and men can love men, and women can love women in the same way that Mommy and Daddy love each other.
So simple. So basic.
It provided a little surge of pride for me, knowing that we are raising the boys to be tolerant, non-judgmental, and caring human beings. Can’t lie…we’re a bit awesome.