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"If my daughter had dressed as Batman, no one would have thought twice about it. No one."
November 4, 2010 11:12 AM   Subscribe

My Son Is Gay
posted by zarq (234 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite

 
That's an awesome costume. And an awesome kid. And an awesome mom.

Too bad he goes to the preschool at the Church of Perpetual Judgey Douchebuckets.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:14 AM on November 4, 2010 [53 favorites]


Was just bout to post this as well. Not normally the sort of thing I'm interested in, but the mom is pretty awesome in this piece.
posted by Telf at 11:14 AM on November 4, 2010


My favorite costume as a kid was wearing my brother's football uniform and shoulder pads and going as a football player. I'm glad my parents didn't have a problem with their little girl wearing eye black on Halloween and I hope to be a mother as awesome as this one (and mine) someday.
posted by buzzkillington at 11:15 AM on November 4, 2010


If you're going to dress as anyone from Scooby-Doo I have to say that Daphne is definitely the best choice.

Anyway, good on her. I think most buys would get a hoot out of doing this once or twice if there wasn't such a huge one-way stigma about cross-costuming.
posted by GuyZero at 11:17 AM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Onion.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 11:18 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I love this Mom!! I love this kid!! I hope he rocks Halloween for the rest of his life...he's gotten a fabulous start!!!
posted by pearlybob at 11:18 AM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


This was incredibly sweet. I teared up.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 11:20 AM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Dear cop's wife,

Be my mom.

Thank you,
victors
posted by victors at 11:20 AM on November 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'm not sure I'd feel about being outed by my Mom at 5 though.
posted by unSane at 11:24 AM on November 4, 2010 [14 favorites]


At the bottom of the post:
Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)

Anyone want a 3 year old boy?hee hee
posted by nomadicink at 11:24 AM on November 4, 2010


Incredibly sweet, but I'm pretty sure whatever tearing up occurred due to despair at the sort of person who would try and lecture this woman. Just appalling behaviour.

So much credit deserved for totally awesome parenting!
posted by opsin at 11:24 AM on November 4, 2010


I'm in awe of moms who can back their kids up without batting an eye. I'm ashamed to say that it often takes me a moment of internal arguing before I can get my head straightened out and can do the right thing for my kid. Because the schoolyard bullying I experienced as a child was so brutal AND because my child has been diagnosed with ASD the first place I instinctively go is to not want my kid to do anything that might attract the attention of bullies. I really have to give myself a minute or two to sort it out before I can do the right thing and encourage my son to do what makes him happy. This woman is awesome.
posted by echolalia67 at 11:25 AM on November 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


For those who refuse to RTFA:



She's not actually saying that her son is gay.



She's not actually saying that her son is gay.



SHE'S NOT ACTUALLY SAYING THAT HER SON IS GAY.
posted by Avenger at 11:25 AM on November 4, 2010 [58 favorites]


unSane, pffft - that's nothing. I'm having a boy in March and until the ultrasound, we (my family and I) collectively swore the fetus is a girl. Well, no. So, we shrugged and decided that the girl vibes must be because he's a very fabulous fetus who is in there with his bedazzler.

Yep. I accused my kid of being potentially gay and he's not even born.

(I also wasn't serious and I'm with this mom in saying that if my kid is gay, that's fine with me. Also fine if he's not. I'll love him with our without bedazzled onesies.)
posted by sonika at 11:26 AM on November 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


My son is gay???
posted by bonsai forest at 11:26 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Perhaps a little naive that she didn't expect comments but maybe I'm just biased because where I grew up, anyone remotely different was a fucking fag and the kid with a gay dad had to change schools because people (parents and teachers) hounded them. Gay spreads like communism apparently.

I always hated Daphne though. "jinkies" always seemed so affected.
posted by doublehappy at 11:28 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, good on her and her attitude about it, but she might want to consider sending him to another school.
posted by nomadicink at 11:28 AM on November 4, 2010


The Onion.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 11:18 AM on November 4


And here's real life mirroring the Onion. Sweden, though; not Berkeley.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:28 AM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


T IS NOT OK TO BULLY. Even if you wrap it up in a bow and call it ‘concern.’ Those women were trying to bully me. And my son. MY son.

These are also the people who raise children who bully.

What really disturbs me about this is that we seem to be going backward. When my siblings and I were children, my younger brother, who looks a lot like me, dressed up as me for Halloween. All he got were compliments on how great his costume was.
posted by bearwife at 11:29 AM on November 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


If anyone has ever had a three year old boy they haven't suspected of being gay, I'd like to hear about it. It is just a gay age...

Anyway, Thirdly, I am not worried that your son will grow up to be an actual ninja so back off. <---- awesome.
posted by rusty at 11:29 AM on November 4, 2010 [29 favorites]


Then as we got closer to the actual day, he stared to hem and haw about it. After some discussion it comes out that he is afraid people will laugh at him. I pointed out that some people will because it is a cute and clever costume. He insists their laughter would be of the ‘making fun’ kind. I blow it off. Seriously, who would make fun of a child in costume?

I'm as happy as anyone else that Boo's mom is going to be so supportive of his lifestyle choices, but I'm inclined to think maybe that support should have included not blowing off his concerns about being mocked, and letting him do a last-minute costume adjustment if that would have made him more comfortable.

Also: this is a rare example of a grown woman who is more naive than her five-year-old kid.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 11:31 AM on November 4, 2010 [34 favorites]


This is when I'd bust out some of the same "concerned observations" toward the other moms' kids.

"I see that Madison is wearing a Cinderella costume. Was that her choice of costume? Surely she expects more for her own future than to grow up and marry a handsome, wealthy man. Shame on you for forcing her into the role of arm candy. I would hate for her to grow up with such a low opinion of herself."

"Is that your Logan dressed up as a pirate? With a blacked-out tooth? Here's the number of my dentist, you should give her a call. I'm sure you know how highly our culture values the appearance of good oral hygiene, and I would hate for him to get picked on later in life."
posted by phunniemee at 11:32 AM on November 4, 2010 [13 favorites]


I think most buys would get a hoot out of doing this once or twice if there wasn't such a huge one-way stigma about cross-costuming.

As she mentions in the article, it's actually relatively common and uncontroversial for older (straight) boys to dress like girls as a joke. My junior high had a lip-syncing performance contest every year, and there was always at least one group of guys who dressed up as women for their song. Dressing up in a costume is an inherently silly activity, and the only people who seem to get worked up about it are adults who take it too seriously.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:32 AM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think it is the most a parent could hope for to raise a child who develops judgement-teflon at the youngest age possible. There are few character traits better than being able to disregard the opinions of those who do not want you to be yourself.

...however, if his experience mirrors every 'different' kid's experience in junior high and high school, mom would do him some good with karate after school instead of soccer.
posted by griphus at 11:32 AM on November 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


The pedantic part of me gets so irritated about the conflation of "gay" and "likes to wear girl clothes" (sexual orientation and gender identity). But proud moms, and really any parents who manage not to purposefully turn their children into shame-factories, are always worth celebrating.
posted by so_gracefully at 11:33 AM on November 4, 2010 [9 favorites]


Maybe it's just my experience growing up in a small town, but this is a bit worrisome. Knowing that you're standing up for what's right is small comfort when you're getting your face kicked in. The kid's fine for now, but what about junior high and highschool?

The problem with encouraging your child to stand up against social norms is that you're also encouraging your child to get harassed by his peers.
While it's important to be able to stand up for your right to be different, it's equally important to understand what the people around you consider to be normal. I guess the question is, how much is it parents projecting their political ideas onto their kid, and what could the consequences of that be for the kid?

I know I'm kind of playing the devil's advocate here, but sometimes a bit of social camouflage is what it takes for kids to survive to be adults.

I guess I'm just scared for the poor kid. ;) That's what I get for living in the land of shotguns and rednecks. I like the article.
posted by Stagger Lee at 11:33 AM on November 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Also. The batman comment is brilliant. And 100% agreed.
Gender roles are screwed up.
posted by Stagger Lee at 11:34 AM on November 4, 2010


I always hated Daphne though. "jinkies" always seemed so affected.
posted by doublehappy at 2:28 PM on November 4 [+] [!]


Velma was the bespectacled one who said "Jinkies". Daphne was the "hot" one.

/pedant
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 11:35 AM on November 4, 2010 [20 favorites]


Awesome costume.

Hey, I just remembered I dressed as a girl one Hallowe'en when I was about nine, to go guising ("Trick and Treat" in Scotland)! I don't think I even knew anything about sexuality or sex, though. I just thought it was a cool costume. Sure enough, one elderly couple told me off for not dressing up at all. This is in the middle of the countryside. Hmmm, maybe I did get some funny reactions? Yes, on reflection, I must have known it was transgressive in some way, although I don't think I would be aware of same-sex or transvestite connotations.

What an odd memory! Thanks.
posted by alasdair at 11:36 AM on November 4, 2010


Ugh. Daphne is an ignorant bimbo. If this woman wanted to be a good mother, she would have made her son dress up like a respectable, intellectual role model, like Velma.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:36 AM on November 4, 2010 [12 favorites]


Among the many correct things in this piece is the observation that no one flinches at a little girl dressed up as Batman.
posted by Leta at 11:37 AM on November 4, 2010


Awesome article, although it's only makes you gay if you dress as Fred.
posted by Cpt. The Mango at 11:37 AM on November 4, 2010 [31 favorites]


The Onion.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 11:18 AM on November 4
No, The Onion.
posted by kickingtheground at 11:39 AM on November 4, 2010 [11 favorites]


*it, not "it's"
posted by Cpt. The Mango at 11:39 AM on November 4, 2010


Velma was the bespectacled one who said "Jinkies". Daphne was the "hot" one.

I beg to differ.
posted by brundlefly at 11:43 AM on November 4, 2010 [14 favorites]


Then as we got closer to the actual day, he stared to hem and haw about it. After some discussion it comes out that he is afraid people will laugh at him. I pointed out that some people will because it is a cute and clever costume. He insists their laughter would be of the ‘making fun’ kind. I blow it off. Seriously, who would make fun of a child in costume?

It really is sad that a 5 year old has a better understanding of social dynamics than his parent.

I mean, really, what Stagger Lee said. Parents are supposed to play a protecting, guiding role, and it looks like the mother just threw the poor kid to the wolves and wants to insist that this is "an important lesson in standing up for what you believe in."
posted by deanc at 11:44 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Send child to religious school.
Support child's crossdressing whim.
Child has second thoughts, reassure him that all will be well.
trollface.jpg

Your religious peers are predictably judgmental.
Post surprised, angry rant on the Internets.
rofolcopter.gif
posted by clarknova at 11:44 AM on November 4, 2010 [9 favorites]


Whoa - ya gotta be a *real man* to pull off wearing a wig like that!!
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:44 AM on November 4, 2010


If you think that me allowing my son to be a female character for Halloween is somehow going to ‘make’ him gay then you are an idiot. Firstly, what a ridiculous concept. Secondly, if my son is gay, OK. I will love him no less. Thirdly, I am not worried that your son will grow up to be an actual ninja so back off.

She is awesome.
posted by rtha at 11:46 AM on November 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Send child to religious school.

"Preschool held at a church" is not necessarily a "religious school." Many churches rent their facilities to preschools.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:47 AM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Thirdly, I am not worried that your son will grow up to be an actual ninja so back off."

That made me laugh out loud.
posted by klangklangston at 11:47 AM on November 4, 2010


Also, a parent who teaches their child that bowing to other people's bigotry instead of doing what they want is a shitty parent in my book.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:47 AM on November 4, 2010 [13 favorites]


and it looks like the mother just threw the poor kid to the wolves

She walked him to class and the only people who seemed to have a problem with the costume were adults, not the other kids.
posted by rtha at 11:48 AM on November 4, 2010


The problem with encouraging your child to stand up against social norms is that you're also encouraging your child to get harassed by his peers.

It's ok, though, because once you've gotten through the hell of high school, you get to enjoy the sweet, sweet satisfaction of all the fucking lemmings telling you, for years afterwards, that they always thought you were so cool and that they wished they could have been more like you back then.

Which they could have, if they'd had a goddamn spine.

I salute you, awesome mom. It's people like you (and my parents) who are creating the next generation of people who can think for themselves.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 11:48 AM on November 4, 2010 [28 favorites]


good on her and her attitude about it, but she might want to consider sending him to another school.

Isn't that basically analogous to not wearing the costume? Or wearing it only at home?

Ugh. Daphne is an ignorant bimbo. If this woman wanted to be a good mother, she would have made her son dress up like a respectable, intellectual role model, like Velma.

I've watched a fair amount of SD and Daphne is not dumb. I think you are conflating appearance with intelligence.

I think it is the most a parent could hope for to raise a child who develops judgement-teflon at the youngest age possible. There are few character traits better than being able to disregard the opinions of those who do not want you to be yourself.

Amen. Good for not letting him chicken out, mom.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:49 AM on November 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Parents are supposed to play a protecting, guiding role, and it looks like the mother just threw the poor kid to the wolves and wants to insist that this is "an important lesson in standing up for what you believe in."

and defended him to the parents who shit-talked him. who were the only ones.

he wanted to dress in women's clothes and his mom let him do it, supported his decision, didn't force it one way or the other and gave him the option of backing out, and then was with him every step of the way. all the while making sure he knew that she loved him just as much no matter what decision he made.

playing a protecting, guiding role, you might say.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 11:51 AM on November 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


When I was three I wanted to be a pony.... and mom let me pretend I was...

I'm still human....

And, I would have been OK with becoming a pony...

He'll probably be OK...however it turns out....

And...good for you, Mom....
posted by HuronBob at 11:52 AM on November 4, 2010 [8 favorites]


I had a cousin who loved Wonder Woman from the late 70’s TV show. Or, Woman Woman as he called her. He was only about four. He used to run around in red underwear with Dixie Cups on his wrists deflecting imaginary bullets. He wanted to be Wonder Woman for Halloween one year but his parents said no. He was a very unhappy Bat-Mite to my batman that year (Why not Robin? Who knows? He already had the red underwear.) Who could blame him for wanting to fly around in an invisible jet, make people tell the truth with a magic rope, change into costume by spinning around in a flash of light and be beautiful like Linda Carter? I think a little piece of him hardened or died off that year. He’s never really been as enthusiastic about anything else in his life. Or, maybe he has, but he doesn’t feel comfortable expressing himself anymore because he’s afraid someone is going to come along and crush that dream because it doesn’t jibe with societal norms.

I’m glad this kid has such an understanding and supportive mother. I’m glad she pushed him to stick with his choice and not back down to his fears of mockery by his peers. Instead of allowing society to squash a piece of him that day, she showed him it’s okay to be himself even in the face of adversity and that she’ll be there to stick up for him when he does. Priceless.
posted by studentbaker at 11:53 AM on November 4, 2010 [14 favorites]


In 1984 or thereabouts, my mother sent my brother to school on April Fool's Day dressed like a girl. He's just fine. (In fact, were it not creepy, I would even say that he's FINE. Because he has a cute and awesome girlfriend, so clearly he ain't hurtin'.)

In 2006 or thereabouts, an acquaintance of mine was eyeing the blue onesies with teddy bears on them at a Virginia Wal-Mart when a woman behind her asked how old her son was. "She's three months old," said Sarah. "Oh, you can't get that for her. It'll make her gay," said the woman.

God. Some people.
posted by Madamina at 11:55 AM on November 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


I had a crush on Daphne when I was a kid. It was those purple stockings! Plus the red hair. More on topic, good for this kid and his mom.
posted by Mister_A at 11:56 AM on November 4, 2010


The problem with encouraging your child to stand up against social norms is that you're also encouraging your child to get harassed by his peers.
While it's important to be able to stand up for your right to be different, it's equally important to understand what the people around you consider to be normal. I guess the question is, how much is it parents projecting their political ideas onto their kid, and what could the consequences of that be for the kid?


Other than raising a kid in a hippie commune or something, there's not really much a parent can do to prevent them from experiencing "normal." Normal is bashed into everyone's head all day long from a million different sources. Unless he has some serious issues, by the time this kid gets to high school he's going to have a very good idea of the sorts of things that make up the difference between the most popular kids in school and the school's social pariahs.

No kid needs their mom to tell them what normal is, they will figure it out. The problem is that knowing what is normal is not the same as being normal, so it's relatively common for kids to desperately need to fit in and yet fail spectacularly at doing so. What those kids need are parents exactly like that blogger, who will love them and accept them even if they are gay or fat or a nerd or not "normal" in some other way. There will always be bullies and judgy assholes in the world, but it's nice to know that the people who really care about you in your life will appreciate who you are regardless of what society expects you to do or be.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:56 AM on November 4, 2010 [11 favorites]


The mom respected her son's choice to wear the costume he wanted, which was awesome, but not his choice to change his mind about it, which was not so awesome.
posted by rocket88 at 11:57 AM on November 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


"Oh, you can't get that for her. It'll make her gay," said the woman.

I have a friend whose mom expressed consternation with her not dressing her infant daughter in pink, frilly outfits.

To retaliate, said friend sent her mother a picture of the baby in her newly acquired "Ladies' Man" bib.
posted by sonika at 11:59 AM on November 4, 2010 [14 favorites]


I know I'm kind of playing the devil's advocate here, but sometimes a bit of social camouflage is what it takes for kids to survive to be adults.

I grew up different, and for a while that meant getting the shit beat out of you by other children.

I'm an adult now, and a parent to two small children. I share your concerns, but at the same time I don't think hiding who they are in order to conform is the lesson I should be teaching them.

That's not the lesson I took from my childhood. Teaching them that would seem like a step backward.
posted by zarq at 12:00 PM on November 4, 2010 [17 favorites]


I'm as happy as anyone else that Boo's mom is going to be so supportive of his lifestyle choices, but I'm inclined to think maybe that support should have included not blowing off his concerns about being mocked, and letting him do a last-minute costume adjustment if that would have made him more comfortable.

Yeah I guess, but with a five year old - with any kid, hell, with any person you're close to - you blow off a lot of their concerns.

re: Daphne v Velma

Damn, guess my memory ain't what it used to be. HEY BRUNDLEFLY IT'S GAY TO LIKE VELMA BETTER.
posted by doublehappy at 12:00 PM on November 4, 2010


Stagger Lee: while I appreciate the spirit in which you made your comment, you're reflecting exactly the attitude which American society seems to be going through the birthing pains of erasing right at this moment.

Demanding that children, specifically GLBT children, should learn "social camouflage" in order to avoid bullying... That's exactly the attitude which was prevalent in the 1950s toward all queer persons. Just learn to fly under the radar, keep everything a secret, and nothing bad will happen toward you.

As time progressed past Stonewall and into the '70s and '80s, the prevailing cultural attitude toward queers was "Well, they can be who they want, as long as they don't flaunt it in my face". So once a year everyone would put on their rainbow best and go march in the streets, and then spend the rest of the calendar trying to find a way to live out of sight, hoping to avoid being beaten by baseball-bat wielding thugs or fired from a job, and opting not to attend mainstream social gatherings with a life partner because of the stigma.

We're struggling to move beyond this mindset right now. Ten years ago, our nation looked at that poor man who was hung on a fence and left to die in Wyoming and decided that maybe it wasn't such a good idea to socially sanction beating faggots to death. Just this year, it was made into federal law that doing such a thing is a serious no-no. I think this is progress.

Earlier this year, the media finally woke up to what has been a fact of life for nearly all of modern gay history -- that gay teenagers are bullied and ostracized to the point where they kill themselves out of despair. It's been happening forever, but it finally made front-page news. Not just once, but FIVE times in three weeks. And the culture at large is starting to shift away from tolerating / sanctioning / encouraging such behavior.

In the scenario you describe above, it is NOT the GLBT child who should have to change their behavior to try to avoid getting his face kicked in. It's the people who are doing the kicking who need to change, and the social structures which have ignored and even supported that behavior across the decades. Coming out as gay now isn't nearly as scary as when I did it in 1990, and it SURELY isn't as scary as it was for those who marched in the first gay pride parade in NYC, who basically sprinted along the parade route and then vanished before anything untoward can happen.

See, the thing about "gay pride" is... it's not about being "proud". There is no haughtiness involved in that public display of one's sexuality. Rather, "pride" here is used in the sense of "lack of shame". And what you're encouraging in your comment is for queer youth to be ASHAMED of who they are, to learn to hide it out of fear, because the consequences of being who you were born as include ridicule, pain, and even death. The devaluing lessons learned through such an approach can and do create lasting psychological scars which linger throughout a lifetime.

Don't encourage GLBT or even queer-expressing youth to hide. Instead, make bullying them morally reprehensible in the minds of the rest of the population. That is the only way to truly educate a younger generation and elevate ourselves to a fully free and inclusive society.
posted by hippybear at 12:00 PM on November 4, 2010 [136 favorites]


i'm a bit torn on this. i appreciate the mother's attitude about it. i'm not sure if it is good or bad (but i'm guessing within the acceptable margin of error of parenting) that she denied or discouraged her son's choice of giving up or changing the costume; there are valid lessons in that, in any case. i'm kind of iffy about the publicity aspect of it. standing up to the other mothers was brave and cool, but putting it online with a photo is kind of questionable. not that she could predict its popularity, but it seems that what might be a kid's passing interest could turn into a longer-term preoccupation with his sexuality by him, his family, or strangers.

of course, it's not necessarily harmful, and it's not like kids get to choose the context of their upbringing anyway. but somehow for me it doesn't feel right to place that kind of narrative onto a kid who has enough on his plate just trying to be a kid.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 12:00 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I decided to be Jayne from Firefly for Halloween this year and apparently went a step to far by committing to the realistic looking fake beard. A friend of mine mentioned a conversation in with some other people at the party in which she heard them whispering about how there was a guygirl in the corner of the room, and then promptly replied, "Yeah. Duh. It's Halloween, it's a costume." It's funny where people draw their lines. Sharpied on beard on chilean miner girl? Cool. Fake theatrical hair on space mercenary? Fucking weird.
posted by edbles at 12:01 PM on November 4, 2010 [7 favorites]


>Also: this is a rare example of a grown woman who is more naive than her five-year-old kid.
Expecting adults to have a sense of decency and compassion is not naivete. I strongly believe that people need to cease lowering their standards for the lowest common denominators in the compassion category.

The only people that need to be shunned in this instance are the mothers who don't know how to love children for who they are.
posted by notion at 12:02 PM on November 4, 2010 [12 favorites]


The mom respected her son's choice to wear the costume he wanted, which was awesome, but not his choice to change his mind about it, which was not so awesome.

You know, I only have the given account to go by, but from what I'm seeing I don't get the impression that if he'd legitimately wanted to opt out, she wouldn't have let him. He didn't even change his mind about it, he just was worried about people making fun of him.

Her account does seem to suggest she minimized his concerns about being made fun of, but I have to be honest - it's both beautiful and heartbreaking that she didn't think he'd have to worry because she couldn't imagine someone being so shitty as to make fun of a child for wearing a Halloween costume.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 12:03 PM on November 4, 2010 [10 favorites]


For those decrying the mom for not letting him change his mind: I get a five year old dressed every morning and I totally get where she's coming from. He changes his mind... and then he changes his mind again...and again... and again... and pretty soon you've purchased 6 costumes and he won't wear any of them.

At some point, a decision's GOT to be made. Learning to stick with something is just as much a part of being five as cross-dressing. I mean... something like that.
posted by sonika at 12:04 PM on November 4, 2010 [20 favorites]


I dunno... I kind of regret not having judgmental people around to lecture my mom about my Halloween costumes like that when I was a kid. Maybe if they had, I wouldn't have grown up to be a Starfleet-garfield-clown-computer.

Oh, and gay.
posted by Katrel at 12:05 PM on November 4, 2010 [12 favorites]


I'm mostly entertained by the costume itself. Ridiculously orange wig. Pink boots that are actually just covers for sneakers. Lime green scarf.

Good Halloween costumes are outlandish. That's what makes them entertaining. Part of me thinks the pushback here is not only against cross-dressing but against homemade costumes which defeat the expectation you've got to spend $30 making your kid a walking promotion for the newest Pixar movie.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 12:08 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Part of me thinks the pushback here is not only against cross-dressing but against homemade costumes

Wow, I didn't get that at all. What in the article made you think that?
posted by cashman at 12:12 PM on November 4, 2010


Send child to religious school.
Support child's crossdressing whim.
Child has second thoughts, reassure him that all will be well.
trollface.jpg


That's my take-away too. If your child wants to wear that costume, and never expresses any doubts about it then that's fine. I think it's your job as a parent to support your child, but also to say "some people are intolerant, and they may not like what you do."

She didn't think anything would happen? Because of the magical innocence of Halloween? I think she knew exactly what would happen, and got a righteous anger hard-on at the thought of using her kid as a pawn in some shadowy fight against the forces of heteronormity. Not that heteronormative stereotypes aren't worth fighting, I'm just saying pick your battles.
posted by codacorolla at 12:12 PM on November 4, 2010


Son, time to nut up and put on that dress like a man.
posted by wcfields at 12:13 PM on November 4, 2010 [10 favorites]


That is an awesome kid with an awesome mom and an awesome costume.

It reminds me of a strip that Dan Savage did with Ellen Forney (can't find it online, sadly, although it's reprinted in her collection I Love Led Zeppelin, which you should own or at least read) about his going to a Cub Scout Halloween party dressed as a Girl Scout (Brownie, actually). It's a very good story that makes the distinction between guys dressing the part and really getting into it versus guys doing deliberately bad drag so that you know they're not really into it.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:16 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think she knew exactly what would happen, and got a righteous anger hard-on at the thought of using her kid as a pawn in some shadowy fight against the forces of heteronormity.

Do you have anything to back this up? Or are you just imagining what someone entirely unknown to you, must have been thinking, and therefore, you are right?
posted by rtha at 12:16 PM on November 4, 2010 [10 favorites]


Yeah, and "keep your head down and nothing bad will happen to you" is not really compassionate. It's actually the opposite of compassion, because it makes life harder on the people who refuse to keep their heads down.

And furthermore, the kid probably isn't even gay. He's a five-year-old who wanted to dress up like one of his favorite cartoon characters. The fact that three other moms thought this would make the kid gay (and that a number of MeFites are concerned with the kid being "outed" (WTF?)) shows how shallowly we still think in terms of dress -> gender -> sexuality.

All of you people need to stop being Gender Cops and just learn to live with differences. It's OK to not be normal.
posted by Avenger at 12:18 PM on November 4, 2010 [15 favorites]


[A few comments removed. Use your words or give the thread a pass.]
posted by cortex at 12:18 PM on November 4, 2010


hell, if my little boys had looked that cute in dresses and wigs, I would have dressed them as Marlyn Monroe from day one...

They looked more natural dressed as chipmunks and toads.
posted by HuronBob at 12:19 PM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


The neighbor dressed his boy in a full out army uniform to mimic Platoon--Ace of Spades in helmut and everything. To me and my husband it was a little extreme for a 11 year old. But I guess he wanted that whole "my kid is NOT gay" statement to scream through the neighborhood.
posted by stormpooper at 12:19 PM on November 4, 2010


The mom respected her son's choice to wear the costume he wanted, which was awesome, but not his choice to change his mind about it, which was not so awesome.

I don't see where she stifled anything.

ime 99% of kids' questioning is about fear. And 100% of the time the right answer is "I love you" which in this case is phrased as "I will protect you from idiots"
posted by victors at 12:19 PM on November 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


Do you have anything to back this up? Or are you just imagining what someone entirely unknown to you, must have been thinking, and therefore, you are right?


Previous experience in reality regarding people. If she didn't think feathers would be ruffled by a child cross dressing in a religious school then... I don't know. We're only getting her side of the story from the blog, and I'm saying that I don't fully believe her side of the story despite supporting the topic that she's posting about.
posted by codacorolla at 12:22 PM on November 4, 2010


I'm saying that I don't fully believe her side of the story

Ah, MetaFilter... does your cynicism know NO bounds?
posted by hippybear at 12:24 PM on November 4, 2010


I think she knew exactly what would happen, and got a righteous anger hard-on at the thought of using her kid as a pawn in some shadowy fight against the forces of heteronormity.

And that's not wrong. Your kid learns a valuable life lesson about prejudice. He also learns his mother can be counted on.

But to pretend there will be no battle? To let your boy walk into it without a word of warning or a reassurance of support? To act shocked, just shocked when it happens? This is either a post about a very stupid person, a very naive person, or a very disingenuous person.

A religious person trollface.gif!
posted by clarknova at 12:24 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Don't make the mistake I did. I dressed as Franklin Delano Roosevelt for Halloween when I was a kid, and it gave me polio.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 12:25 PM on November 4, 2010 [31 favorites]


Part of me thinks the pushback here is not only against cross-dressing but against homemade costumes which defeat the expectation you've got to spend $30 making your kid a walking promotion for the newest Pixar movie.

It sounded to me like she bought the costume. Not that it matters, it's a great costume.
posted by howling fantods at 12:26 PM on November 4, 2010


The mom respected her son's choice to wear the costume he wanted, which was awesome, but not his choice to change his mind about it, which was not so awesome.

I trust mom's ability to identify irrational vs rational fears in her own child a lot better than I trust you to. The fear that the child would be mocked or harassed (by other children) is largely irrational. It is kinda wrong for you to pass judgment on her ability.
posted by Fuka at 12:27 PM on November 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


To act shocked, just shocked when it happens?

I didn't get this from her writeup. The only people who were shocked were the other adults.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 12:29 PM on November 4, 2010


and I'm saying that I don't fully believe her side of the story despite supporting the topic that she's posting about.

Cool. Well, I don't fully believe you fully believe that. So now where are we?
posted by victors at 12:31 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


That kid looks fabu. YAY supportive mom, small-b boo for apparently not thinking it through very thoroughly.
posted by everichon at 12:31 PM on November 4, 2010


Ah, MetaFilter... does your cynicism know NO bounds?

I believe that her son wanted to be Daphne (I don't even think cross dressing is appropriate - he just wanted to be a character), I believe that she supported it, I believe that he expressed doubts, and I believe that this wasn't well received by the other parents.

What does not pass believability is that an adult who has spent any extended period of time in America and sends their child to a (regardless of how progressive) religious school doesn't think that other parents might have their cultural prejudices shocked by this. To let the child think that no one would take offense is, in my mind, bad parenting.

Let him do what he wants within the bounds of reason and support him in it? That's great. That's what you want in a child - an ability to be an individual without constantly needing the support of the rest of the people around him.

Gloss over his (well deserved) reservations because you think everything will be fine (or, perhaps worse yet, are spoiling for a fight)? That's not fine. You should be honest with your kid, even if being honest means compromising your morality a little.
posted by codacorolla at 12:32 PM on November 4, 2010


If she didn't think feathers would be ruffled by a child cross dressing in a religious school then...

all the religious schools i grew up around participated in the powder puff game. wearing a costume on halloween does not equal cross dressing.

from her account, the only reason the kid wanted to back out was fear of bullies. i think she was right to minimize that and not let him give into fear.
posted by nadawi at 12:32 PM on November 4, 2010


Also: this makes me chalk a hash mark in both the "WE ARE DOOMED" and "YAY PROGRESS" columns.
posted by everichon at 12:34 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I had a crush on Daphne when I was a kid. It was those purple stockings!

Oh boy. Who didn't!

Who could blame him for wanting to fly around in an invisible jet, make people tell the truth with a magic rope

Oh boy, part II. Tie me up, Wonder Woman? I won't tell you anything!!

HEY BRUNDLEFLY IT'S GAY TO LIKE VELMA BETTER.

Velma of Scooby-Doo: gay, a, or just plain nerdy?
posted by mrgrimm at 12:37 PM on November 4, 2010


What does not pass believability is that an adult who has spent any extended period of time in America and sends their child to a (regardless of how progressive) religious school doesn't think that other parents might have their cultural prejudices shocked by this. To let the child think that no one would take offense is, in my mind, bad parenting.

So, what you're saying is, you don't doubt the veracity of the story; you simply disagree with her parenting.
posted by hippybear at 12:39 PM on November 4, 2010


"In the scenario you describe above, it is NOT the GLBT child who should have to change their behavior to try to avoid getting his face kicked in. It's the people who are doing the kicking who need to change..." -- hippybear

As much as this is true, I think it's also worth pointing out that if you are a GLBT child, and you might get your face kicked in if you come out to your peers, you might want to avoid getting your face kicked in.

"And what you're encouraging in your comment is for queer youth to be ASHAMED of who they are, to learn to hide it out of fear..."

Encouraging someone to be safe is not the same as encouraging them to be ashamed. Let them survive high school and grow into adults, who have the influence and standing to effect change.
posted by CrayDrygu at 12:39 PM on November 4, 2010


Previous experience in reality regarding people. If she didn't think feathers would be ruffled by a child cross dressing in a religious school then... I don't know.

Your experiences with church preschools may not be as all-encompassing as you think. I went to one where no one would have batted an eye. And if they were So Religious, there wouldn't be a Halloween party in the first place.

And you really don't have any idea if the dumb adults who flipped out about this did so because of religion. Correlation causation yadda yadda.
posted by rtha at 12:40 PM on November 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


Encouraging someone to be safe is not the same as encouraging them to be ashamed. Let them survive high school and grow into adults, who have the influence and standing to effect change.

...because having a parent tell you from childhood through your teenage years and into college "Yes, we know that's how you are, but you need to hide it so nobody will find out" is healthy HOW, exactly?
posted by hippybear at 12:45 PM on November 4, 2010 [16 favorites]


When I was in kindergarten we had to make valentines day crowns (i have no idea why, it was just construction paper with hearts on it) and the options were pink or red for the main paper. Of course there was a split down the gender lines. My mom was similar to this mom (though i never wanted to dress as a girl) and had recently convinced me that you could still be masculine and like pink (in all fairness to her the lesson may have been something else, but that was what I took from it), so with that in mind and thinking I was a cool trend setter (at 5) and able to exert my own cool despite what people thought, I picked pink construction paper for my crown. I quickly learned that I was wrong, and after much humiliation spent nap time remaking my crown in red. I guess it was misguided rebellion. I have a feeling that if my life were the simpsons they would have hit both the "independent thought" and the "possibly gay" buttons that day. The teachers allowed me to make that decision though, and I clearly remember thinking that in making the decision I would be able to change other peoples minds. Clearly I wasn't as "engendered" as the other boys at my kindergarten, of course, it was on a military base. I don't really think my dad was as comfortable with how progressive my mom was, and I hold a suspicion that for the longest time in my development my dad believed that I was gay, and was trying to come to terms with and be supportive of that.

THe short version is: I did stuff like this too (sort of) and I don't think it affected me negatively. A little sad that neither of us were able to change anyones minds about gender roles. Good on this kid for being himself and having parents that allow him to.
posted by djduckie at 12:49 PM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I have so much to say that I can't say it in any coherent fashion, so I'll just quote Avenger: "It's OK to not be normal."

It really is, you know.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:50 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


"..."Yes, we know that's how you are, but you need to hide it so nobody will find out" is healthy HOW, exactly?"

Getting your face kicked in is healthy how, exactly?

Being forced to go to an environment (high school being compulsory in most places) 5 days a week where your face is likely to get kicked in is healthy how, exactly?

Waking up every morning in literal fear of what is going to happen to you that day is healthy how, exactly?

I'm not saying either option is good. But please explain how physical violence is better than discretion?
posted by CrayDrygu at 12:51 PM on November 4, 2010


My son could dress up as RuPaul for all I care on Halloween or any other day of the year, for that matter.

A kid in a costume is a kid in a costume. Gender identity and sexual orientation shouldn't have to be* a part of conversations with five year olds. The only concern I'd have with a Halloween costume is if it is warm enough, because, damn Halloween in New England can get cold.

*and I realize why they have to be, and I am so sad that it has to happen. That a kid can't just wear a costume and be a kid in a costume, that dressing as a member of the opposite sex has to invite questioning....it's dumb. Kids deserve to be kids without worrying if people will make fun of them on Halloween for wearing a costume.
posted by zizzle at 12:53 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


She's not actually saying that her son is gay.

She probably should have thought twice about titling the post 'My Son is gay' in that case.
posted by unSane at 12:53 PM on November 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


She's not actually saying that her son is gay.

To be fair, she's not actually saying that her son is not gay either.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:59 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


She probably should have thought twice about titling the post 'My Son is gay' in that case.

Why?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 1:01 PM on November 4, 2010


Because it's a bald statement of fact.
posted by unSane at 1:03 PM on November 4, 2010


Encouraging someone to be safe is not the same as encouraging them to be ashamed. Let them survive high school and grow into adults, who have the influence and standing to effect change.

From the context of the post I would argue that her child was not in any physical danger. I would also argue that if the kid was, this is the kind of parent who would go to the mat to make sure the school took a long hard look at it's anti-bullying policy and if all other solutions failed would move house and home to keep her kid happy and healthy. Now in terms of general parenting philosphy's I would argue that the day to day bullying is probably not life threatening in the physical sense, but more in the enough emotional damage to commit suicide sense. A kid with parents who actively encourage and support them is much less likely to belive there is no hope.
posted by edbles at 1:04 PM on November 4, 2010


So, what you're saying is, you don't doubt the veracity of the story; you simply disagree with her parenting.

Not exactly. I think you're angry and not reading what I'm writing.

I believe that she knew there would be backlash and never communicated this to her child because she was either:
A) Spoiling for a fight
B) Wanted him to believe her idealized version of the world (admirable, but not prudent)

I'm willing to be that it's a combination of the two.

I think she was right to let him go, and wrong not to give him all of the information. It strikes me as unbelievable that she thought this would go over swimmingly.

So to answer your question, I don't believe she's as naive as she'd have us believe in that blog post, and, if that is the case, then I think what she did (not telling her child there might be some backlash) was wrong.
posted by codacorolla at 1:06 PM on November 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


As much as this is true, I think it's also worth pointing out that if you are a GLBT child, and you might get your face kicked in if you come out to your peers, you might want to avoid getting your face kicked in.

You also shouldn't wear that short dress if you don't want to be raped.

Encouraging someone to be safe is not the same as encouraging them to be ashamed.

No, but encouraging someone to be "safe" can be shaming on its own.

Let them survive high school and grow into adults, who have the influence and standing to effect change.

I'm curious. How old do you think the boy has to wait before he can start wearing dresses? 18? 21?

But please explain how physical violence is better than discretion?

Exactly. Just take off the burqa, and only pray in your home. Or else.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:07 PM on November 4, 2010 [14 favorites]


She probably assumed the people who would read the article could read
posted by Gandhi Knoxville at 1:08 PM on November 4, 2010 [10 favorites]


Because it's a bald statement of fact.

The first paragraph defines the article beyond its title.
"Or he’s not. I don’t care. He is still my son. And he is 5. And I am his mother. And if you have a problem with anything mentioned above, I don’t want to know you."
If people are so thick-witted that they'll make judgments about her child based solely on the headline, because they can't be bothered to read past it to the very first paragraph, then that's pretty pathetic.
posted by zarq at 1:09 PM on November 4, 2010 [11 favorites]


Jason Kottke's kids have caught the gay too!
posted by Threeway Handshake at 1:12 PM on November 4, 2010


I think the title of the blog post is horrible. I realize it's meant as ironic and provocative; but "gay" isn't a word to play with, when a child is involved.
posted by Carol Anne at 1:14 PM on November 4, 2010


Some people need to learn how headlines work, apparently.
posted by unSane at 1:15 PM on November 4, 2010


Getting your face kicked in is healthy how, exactly?

Being forced to go to an environment (high school being compulsory in most places) 5 days a week where your face is likely to get kicked in is healthy how, exactly?

Waking up every morning in literal fear of what is going to happen to you that day is healthy how, exactly?

I'm not saying either option is good. But please explain how physical violence is better than discretion?


If those damn faggots would just stay in the closet and stop flaunting it in my face, I wouldn't have to beat them with a baseball bat.

(Not saying YOU said this, CrayDrygu, but that's pretty much the attitude you're expressing.)

(Also, what mrgrimm said.)
posted by hippybear at 1:16 PM on November 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


Some people need to learn how headlines work, apparently.

you mean, a one line provocative statement that compels you to read the article? i thought that was standard fair for opinion pieces. she's not reporting on world hunger or darfur - she's writing a blog post.
posted by nadawi at 1:18 PM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Umm is this post about Batman??? What?? I literally cannot read words past the title because of this crazy go-go-go world we live in what okay bored now
posted by Gandhi Knoxville at 1:18 PM on November 4, 2010 [10 favorites]


I think the title of the blog post is horrible. I realize it's meant as ironic and provocative; but "gay" isn't a word to play with, when a child is involved.

But goddamn I can't wait till it is just a cute toothless little turn of phrase.
posted by edbles at 1:19 PM on November 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


My son dressed up as Girl Hitler, and I support that.

no, i don't actually have a son. the child-sized girl hitler costume was for me.
posted by FatherDagon at 1:21 PM on November 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


I also wondered if she had minimized her son's concerns, but giving it a second read, I think she did the right thing and that he'll be fine.

And I am reminded of Doctor Mama's son, who loves nail polish and tights and knows how to defend himself.
posted by maudlin at 1:23 PM on November 4, 2010


I think the title of the blog post is horrible. I realize it's meant as ironic and provocative; but "gay" isn't a word to play with, when a child is involved.

I think her point is that 'gay' needs to stop being a bad word, and saying 'My son is gay' should be no more controversial than 'My son likes trucks' or 'My daughter is blonde.' So what if her son is gay? So what if he isn't?

It also serves as a disclaimer against the perception that she writes the blog post in an effort to say 'There's nothing wrong with being gay, but don't worry he's straight!'
posted by shakespeherian at 1:24 PM on November 4, 2010 [11 favorites]


when i was in high school an openly gay student who was known to wear skirts sometimes got his ass beat badly enough to put him in the hospital for weeks. a gang of boys from the trade school jumped out of their truck and hit him with bricks and bats and kicked him until he stopped moving.

my group of friends included some gay kids, some bi kids, some QQ kids - and our reaction wasn't "oh! we should be more closeted so we don't get our asses beat" but "i wonder if he got his ass beat because it seemed like he didn't have any support." we felt personally guilty for not letting him and the rest of the school know that he wasn't alone. that day we all started talking up a little more, started coming out, stopped being so afraid. our unwillingness to stick our necks out contributed to an atmosphere were him getting "his face kicked in" was possible.

i think she said it best in her article "IT IS NOT OK TO BULLY. Even if you wrap it up in a bow and call it ‘concern.’"

all you concern trolls can go take a hike.
posted by nadawi at 1:25 PM on November 4, 2010 [49 favorites]


Some people need to learn how headlines work, apparently.

You know Tom Friedman doesn't actually believe the world is flat, right?
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 1:26 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think you're angry and not reading what I'm writing.

Well, I am reading what you're writing, but I'm not angry. Why on earth would you even think that based on the couple of sentences I wrote to you?

I believe that she knew there would be backlash and never communicated this to her child because she was either:
A) Spoiling for a fight
B) Wanted him to believe her idealized version of the world (admirable, but not prudent)

I'm willing to be that it's a combination of the two.


Let's look at the source, then.
After some discussion it comes out that he is afraid people will laugh at him. I pointed out that some people will because it is a cute and clever costume. He insists their laughter would be of the ‘making fun’ kind. I blow it off. Seriously, who would make fun of a child in costume?
Here she acknowledges her son's fears about being laughed at are correct, but attempts to deflect that out of "you'll be a boy in a dress" territory and into "people will laugh because it's a cute costume" territory. Perhaps she's wrong in doing that.

In the next paragraph, her son is again worried about people's reactions. I suppose she could have turned around and gone home at this point. But the costume was his choice, and his mother encourages him to go ahead into the school for the party. Perhaps they should have simply left.

A bit further down:
But it also was heartbreaking to me that my sweet, kind-hearted five year old was right to be worried. He knew that there were people like A, B, and C. And he, at 5, was concerned about how they would perceive him and what would happen to him.
I don't think there was anything to hide from this child, or that he had any kind of idealized version of the world being fed to him. He know, alright, that going in dressed as he was might attract negative attention. Perhaps even bullying.

But I do note -- not once in the entire essay does she write about what was probably most important to her son: the response of his peers.

Either this is because the other pre-kindergarteners didn't really care, or because she was too busy with negative attitudes from parents to notice, or a combination of the two.

I just don't see much coddling going on here re: this child, nor do I see him being used as a pawn in some kind of culture war. You seem to read it differently. That's fine with me, as we don't have the author here to interview for further information, so we'll have to be content with our different perspectives.
posted by hippybear at 1:26 PM on November 4, 2010


If people gave a damn, nobody would be having their "faces kicked in."

This mom gives a damn. Good for her.

Also, if a gay kid literally did have his "face kicked in" by an attacker, it would now be classified as a hate crime, which is a rather strong deterrent in itself. I might be a completely naive optimist, but I have a hopeful suspicion that anti-gay bullying will largely be a thing of the past by the time this kid's in High School.
posted by schmod at 1:26 PM on November 4, 2010


I realize it's meant as ironic and provocative; but "gay" isn't a word to play with, when a child is involved.

What if she had used the term "nerd," about her 13-year-old boy, but maybe he wasn't really a nerd, he just had one particularly noticeable tendency (say playing MTG or something (yes I have no idea what nerdy kids play these days)) often associated with nerds that got him noticed and possibly some flak?

Why is "gay" any different than "nerd"? Or what edbles said!

from Kottke link:

"Not an eyebrow was raised, which is unsurprising as lower Manhattan is pretty much ground zero for It Gets Better."

Really? I realize NYC is not as tolerant as the west coast cities, but is lower manhattan really a breeding ground for gay haters? I find that unlikely.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:28 PM on November 4, 2010


She continued on and on about how mean children could be and how he would be ridiculed.

My response to that: The only people that seem to have a problem with it is their mothers.


This...although as their children get older, they'll have a problem with it, too.

It wasn't that long ago that my daughter, attending ballet class, didn't want to wear her dance outfit after class was over. She wanted to change, right there, in front of the other students and dance parents. But hey, she was four, and if she's comfortable with it, why shouldn't I be?

As soon as she got her clothes off, another child slightly older than her ran up, took one look at her naked body, and said "You're naked. Ewww!" To which I responded, "yes, yes she is, and there's nothing 'eww' about being naked." The child continued to stand there as she put her clothes on*, repeating over and over, "Ewww. Ewww. Ewww." Once she covered up her bottom half, he lost interest and walked away.

In my head, as he stood there making his opinion known, all I could think of was his parents telling him that "being naked is gross. Ewww!" or somesuch, teaching him daily to reject the beauty of his own body and that of his peers. It made me very sad for him.

*she did the bottom half last, and seemed nonplussed about the other kid; she took her time, too. I suspect she knew he didn't like it, and being a four-year-old, wanted to exercise that power.
posted by davejay at 1:29 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Really? I realize NYC is not as tolerant as the west coast cities, but is lower manhattan really a breeding ground for gay haters? I find that unlikely.

You misread that; it is a breeding ground for acceptance and support of It Gets Better.
posted by davejay at 1:30 PM on November 4, 2010


That little kid is something a whole lot worse than gay: he's a boy who actually admires and wants to emulate a female character. And we can't have that.
posted by FelliniBlank at 1:30 PM on November 4, 2010 [17 favorites]


You know Tom Friedman doesn't actually believe the world is flat, right?

Actually, that might be a bad example.
posted by brundlefly at 1:30 PM on November 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


"Not an eyebrow was raised, which is unsurprising as lower Manhattan is pretty much ground zero for It Gets Better."

What an interesting wording choice.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:31 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Good for the kid. He's what... 5? Christ knows if he's gay. What's certain is he's a spunky wee bugger.
posted by Decani at 1:31 PM on November 4, 2010


I just don't see much coddling going on here re: this child, nor do I see him being used as a pawn in some kind of culture war. You seem to read it differently. That's fine with me, as we don't have the author here to interview for further information, so we'll have to be content with our different perspectives.

That's fine with me. Apart from this article we seem to be on the same page regarding Gay, Lesbian, Queer, and Transgendered rights, so I'm not really itching to fight more than I have to . It's a matter of opinion based on how you read the article, and what sort of tone you give it as you read. Thanks for explaining your side of the argument in a polite fashion. I'm going to go ahead and step out of the thread at this point.
posted by codacorolla at 1:33 PM on November 4, 2010


But please explain how physical violence is better than discretion?

Discussing this over IM with miss-lapin, she said something thoughtful and I asked her permission to post it here:

Let's assume discretion isn't an option.

If a child were being taunted, threatened or beaten up for being physically disabled, Black, Latin, Asian, White or any other sort of visible minority, how would you suggest they handle it?
posted by zarq at 1:33 PM on November 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Actually, that might be a bad example.

THAT IS ONLY BECAUSE YOU DO NOT POSSES THE MOUSTACHE OF UNDERSTANDING!
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 1:34 PM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


This brings to mind the parents who let each of their 9 y.o. twin boys express their individual gender identities, as profiled in this 60 Minutes segment:
The Science Of Sexual Orientation | video.
posted by ericb at 1:34 PM on November 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


"If those damn faggots would just stay in the closet and stop flaunting it in my face, I wouldn't have to beat them with a baseball bat.

(Not saying YOU said this, CrayDrygu, but that's pretty much the attitude you're expressing.)"


I like to think it's more nuanced than that, but maybe it's my fault for not expressing that.

It's better for society to stand up to the discrimination. It's better for the individual to live to see another day. Adults are free to make the decision as to which they'd rather pursue, and personally, I'd prefer they lean towards coming out. It's through visibility and awareness that we (that's "we" as in "gays") will gain acceptance.

However, I also understand that if you're going to lose your job, your apartment, or your life if you come out - well, maybe now isn't the right time. But you're free to make the choice, and you won't be wrong for choosing to come out. In fact, it's the noble and morally "right" choice to make. For minors, though? Children shouldn't become martyrs.

Granted, we're discussing extreme cases here. But really, what's more harmful -- physically, psychologically, and societally? A student going to school in the morning afraid that his peers will find out he's gay, or a student going to school in the morning wondering if today is the day he gets tied to a fence?

Maybe you're right and I'm completely in the wrong, here. I'm speaking as an adult "out" gay man who grew up in "liberal" Massachusetts and who knows what he'd do (or wouldn't do) in the middle of a bunch of violent homophobes looking for a faggot to beat with a bat.
posted by CrayDrygu at 1:42 PM on November 4, 2010


As much as this is true, I think it's also worth pointing out that if you are a GLBT child, and you might get your face kicked in if you come out to your peers, you might want to avoid getting your face kicked in.

This is such a weird victim-blaming construction of how bullying should be prevented. The reason why kids can "kick someone's face in" and get away with it is that douchebag authority figures side with the bullies and look the other way. The right and ultimately effective thing to do is fight for an environment where bullying is unacceptable even if people are openly different.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:42 PM on November 4, 2010 [9 favorites]


I love this story and I think it's great for the boy. I broke Mom's heart when I was 4 or 5 - she had bought me a Strawberry Shortcake costume for Halloween, but I wanted to be Oscar the Grouch and flailed about it so badly that I got my wish. It probably had more to do that my brother was dressing up as The Count more than anything else. I also clipped all the Star Wars toys out of the Sears Wishbook at the same age, but I ended up getting a pile of Strawberry Shortcake toys instead for Christmas. Parents really worry too much about what their children wear and play with!
posted by Calzephyr at 1:44 PM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


This entire thread consists of concern trolls. Some are worried the kid is getting a raw deal because the mom is trying to change social norms by using a 5 year-old's judgment call (I want to be this cartoon character, gender is not entirely clear to me) to confront a 35 year-old's bias (boys should dress like boys, girls like girls, furries can do as they please.) Others are worried that confirming the child's concerns that he will be laughed at for violating gender norms is teaching the child that such norms are fair and they argue that the role of parents is to help children overcome unjust norms whether they be racial, gender, developmental, etc.

No matter how you feel on which concern outweighs the other, it is important to point out that the child is neither fully autonomous nor fully self-aware, that parents do control their children's behavior and engage in relationships with other adults via their children. That is a real power dynamic and discounting it, within a conversation where gender norms are discussed with apparent sophistication, is not entirely honest.

Lastly, how did it come to be that Halloween (scary times!) became carnival (cosplay)? Not rhetorical, I do wonder.
posted by noway at 1:51 PM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


"This is such a weird victim-blaming construction of how bullying should be prevented."

I'm sorry if I've somehow given the impression that I think hiding is a way of "preventing" anything other than immediate harm. Rather, I think that ending up in the hospital, on the street, or in a grave serves nobody and should be avoided.

Can we agree on that? That ending up dead should be avoided?

Let's say there's someone threatening to kill the next queer he sees, and I believe the threat is credible. Should I:

a) Come out to him and see what happens, or
b) Stay alive and work for change in more effective ways

Bonus question: If I choose (b), am I ashamed and a coward?
posted by CrayDrygu at 1:56 PM on November 4, 2010


good on her

When and why did "good for her" become "good on her?"

I truly hate that expression.
posted by flarbuse at 1:56 PM on November 4, 2010


noway - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halloween#Costumes
posted by nadawi at 1:57 PM on November 4, 2010


Let's say there's someone threatening to kill the next queer he sees, and I believe the threat is credible. Should I:

a) Come out to him and see what happens, or
b) Stay alive and work for change in more effective ways


That's an extreme example that has little to nothing to do with the context described in the linked article.
posted by edbles at 1:58 PM on November 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


Can we agree on that? That ending up dead should be avoided?

i must have missed the part of the article where the child was threatened with beatings or death. his mother was there. she knew he'd be safe from physical harm. if your strawman gets much taller, he might topple on you.
posted by nadawi at 1:58 PM on November 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


-As much as this is true, I think it's also worth pointing out that if you are a GLBT child, and you might get your face kicked in if you come out to your peers, you might want to avoid getting your face kicked in.

-This is such a weird victim-blaming construction of how bullying should be prevented. The reason why kids can "kick someone's face in" and get away with it is that douchebag authority figures side with the bullies and look the other way. The right and ultimately effective thing to do is fight for an environment where bullying is unacceptable even if people are openly different.


fighting for a better environment and giving your child practical advice on how to be safe are not mutually exclusive. outside this issue, there are safe an unsafe contexts for revealing information about yourself, and we don't question those. yes, we should try to create a world in which stealing is so shameful that people won't do it; no, it's probably not a good idea to leave your house unlocked because you don't feel you should give in to thieves.

and an adult can make an educated decision about going into a potentially dangerous situation; parents are responsible for keeping their children from doing this. (of course, i don't think this characterizes the FPP situation; i'm just a bit confused as to the 'deny reality' approach to parenting.)
posted by fallacy of the beard at 1:59 PM on November 4, 2010


"That's an extreme example that has little to nothing to do with the context described in the linked article."

This particular derailment escaped the confines of the linked article a long time ago. I thought we were commenting on the general state of affairs. Like when hippybear said "having a parent tell you from childhood through your teenage years and into college", that's clearly not in the linked article.

If I am to step back into just the context of the linked article - yeah, who gives a crap if the kid wants to be Daphne for halloween? Let him wear the costume, and the other parents can just deal with it. The kid isn't in any danger of harm, so there's no reason not to.
posted by CrayDrygu at 2:02 PM on November 4, 2010


This is great. When I was in nursery school I, a boy, wanted Strawberry Shortcake shoes for my everyday wear. My mother refused because she thought I'd get teased. So we compromised on Strawberry Shortcake shoelaces. And now I'm bisexual.

(No, not really. But I wish it had turned out that way for the sake of the story.)
posted by gabrielsamoza at 2:04 PM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Two of the sixth grade boys I teach, in an all-boy's school, came as Hit Girl from "Kick-Ass" this year. They won the sixth grade Best Costume award (shared with the kid who came as a snail). It was awesome watching one of them, Danny, stick his leg out and strike the Hit Girl pose. I told him he should lick his finger, stick it on his hip, and make a sizzling noise. He did, with great gusto. Nobody gave them a hard time. Nobody thought twice about it. Well, except the kids who blew big money on purchased costumes instead of making their own and didn't get the award.

I'm not saying they don't bully one another or give each other a hard time; I'm not saying they don't use the word "gay" on one another. I'm just saying that they seemed to regard costumes as nothing more than costumes.
posted by Peach at 2:05 PM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


nadawi: thanks, so it comes from Guising and/or Trick or Treating. i like the idea of this event and thus the entire thread being an extension of trick or treating.
posted by noway at 2:08 PM on November 4, 2010


When and why did "good for her" become "good on her?"

It's an Australian expression.
posted by jingzuo at 2:10 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


My son could dress up as RuPaul for all I care

I am down with that. But for a second I thought you said it would be okay if your son dressed as RAND Paul and I admit I questioned your excessively high tolerance levels.
posted by bearwife at 2:17 PM on November 4, 2010 [7 favorites]


Let's say there's someone threatening to kill the next queer he sees, and I believe the threat is credible. Should I:

a) Come out to him and see what happens, or
b) Stay alive and work for change in more effective ways

Bonus question: If I choose (b), am I ashamed and a coward?


To clarify, I was not suggesting that outing oneself is a universal imperative or that people who remain in the closet for practical reasons are cowards or anything like that. My point was that as a parent, encouraging your children to hide aspects of who they are in order to fit in rather than embracing their choices is generally a bad idea in my opinion. In part because I think in most cases that's a losing battle anyway. You mentioned that "children shouldn't become martyrs," what exactly should parents be doing to avoid letting their children become martyrs in your opinion?
posted by burnmp3s at 2:20 PM on November 4, 2010


But for a second I thought you said it would be okay if your son dressed as RAND Paul and I admit I questioned your excessively high tolerance levels.

My hobby is to congratulate people who publicly express support for Rand/Ron Paul on their progressive attitudes about sex in our modern society and then pretend to not understand that they've said anything other than Ru Paul. It's as much fun as screwing up Star Trek/Star Wars on purpose.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 2:20 PM on November 4, 2010 [12 favorites]


I truly hate that expression.

and why?
posted by mrgrimm at 2:23 PM on November 4, 2010


When and why did "good for her" become "good on her?"

It's an Australian expression.


funny! i love when regionalisms are shared. 'round these parts it's a southern US expression. i had a yankee friend who did not believe it was a real saying until she got around my family and we all used it.
posted by nadawi at 2:36 PM on November 4, 2010


"You mentioned that "children shouldn't become martyrs," what exactly should parents be doing to avoid letting their children become martyrs in your opinion?

Assuming we mean parents of LGBT children:

Love their children unconditionally. Communicate with their children about what is happening at school. Join PFLAG or a similar group. Join the PTA, and be active in it. Support a GSA in their school. Support effective anti-bullying programs. Keep an open line of communication with the school administration, work with them when they can and fight them when they need to, and work with organizations that can help them communicate effectively.

If the school is not fostering a safe environment, they should work to change that while keeping their children safe from physical harm. And when and if the environment is reasonably safe, they should encourage their children to be open and honest about themselves and their identity.
posted by CrayDrygu at 2:42 PM on November 4, 2010


I think her point is that 'gay' needs to stop being a bad word, and saying 'My son is gay' should be no more controversial than 'My son likes trucks' or 'My daughter is blonde.' So what if her son is gay? So what if he isn't?

Well, you just shouldn't use your child as the star of your morality plays.

What if she had used the term "nerd," about her 13-year-old boy, but maybe he wasn't really a nerd, he just had one particularly noticeable tendency (say playing MTG or something (yes I have no idea what nerdy kids play these days)) often associated with nerds that got him noticed and possibly some flak?

I'd actually be pretty darn annoyed if my mom did this, especially if it was combined with splashing my picture on a web page while wearing the awful glasses that I had when I was 13 years old.

This really has nothing to do with being gay. The child may be gay or may not be. I think most people in this thread (and I understand this) have a problem with the idea of parents guiding their children into prevailing social norms. Some parents might get clearly abusive towards their sons even playing with their mother's clothes, and that's obviously terrible-- let the kids play at home. I understand the instinct to find that sort of "this is how you go along to get along" social instruction uncomfortable, but it really is part of growing up, in the same way that parents teach their children how to handle themselves at a restaurant. Sure, we are all praising the mom for defending her child (good for her), but would any of you condemn the mom for saying, "honey, why don't you try on a Shaggy costume?" The fact that the child understood the social dynamic here a lot better than the mother, who, I think, was pretending to be more naive than she actually is, makes me feel uncomfortable about this whole story.

I'm not spoiling for an argument on this matter; I think I've said my piece.
posted by deanc at 2:45 PM on November 4, 2010


"When and why did "good for her" become "good on her?"

It's an Australian expression.
"

Yeah, but no, because it's also a Northern Midwest/Canada expression, though in Canada/The UP/Fargo, it tends to be, "Good on ya, eh?"
posted by klangklangston at 2:48 PM on November 4, 2010


Rather, I think that ending up in the hospital, on the street, or in a grave serves nobody and should be avoided.

If you're a guy who "looks" gay, even if you're not actually gay, how far should you go to hide that? Should you stop being a geek? Stop wearing glasses? Stop "walking" like a gay person? (Seriously, I once overheard a teenager on a bus say that she could tell so-and-so was gay by how he walked. Unable to resist, I turned around and asked how a gay person walks. I wasn't confrontational - I was interested! Cheery, even. She got all flustered and stammered something about how she had a gay uncle she loved and then she STFU.) Maybe you shouldn't stagger down the street, a little drunk, with your equally not-gay brother.

If you're a teenage girl who gets called "dyke" a lot, what should you do? Should you stop playing sports? Should you become sexually active with boys before you're ready? Be sure to always wear makeup and grow your hair long and only ever wear skirts?

Discretion is the better part of valor, sometimes. Yes. But lying and being forced to be in the closet can kill you just as dead as some ignorant jackass.
posted by rtha at 2:52 PM on November 4, 2010 [11 favorites]


The Moth had a great one on this - James Braley's Pink Bicycle story.

Listen here at the bottom of the page. It's worth the listen.
posted by jabberjaw at 2:56 PM on November 4, 2010


I saw MGMT at voodoo fest in New Orleans last week and the frontman was dressed in a Daphne costume. I'm not sure if he's gay or not, but the costume was awesome. Just like this kid's.
posted by robstercraw at 2:58 PM on November 4, 2010


It's an Australian expression.

'round these parts it's a southern US expression.

it's also a Northern Midwest/Canada expression


This confirms my thinking that it's pretty common in general. I know I heard it in New Orleans, and I hear it every so often in Northern California.
posted by brundlefly at 3:04 PM on November 4, 2010


I read and commented on this post (and nearly posted to the blue until I saw this).
I am the mother of a six year old boy. A Star Wars/knights/battle re-encactment/karate/monkey magic loving boy. Who also likes to wear eye shadow and nail polish sometimes. I know where this mother is coming from. It is such a double standard - if a girl does something traditonally 'masculine' like wearing a male superhero costume or taking an interest in something like woodwork, or trucks, or football, good for her, all the way sister. But if you little boy takes an interest in what he wears, or make-up, or heaven forbid thinks pink is a nice colour, all of a sudden it is a 'concern', or he is looked at strangely, or people start suggesting he is going to grow up gay.*
It's awful. It's sexist. It's stupid. And good on her for writing a post pointing all of this out.


*Not that I give two flying hoots if he is straight, gay or otherwise, it is just the stereotyping of small boys that shits me.
posted by Megami at 3:20 PM on November 4, 2010 [12 favorites]


Sure, we are all praising the mom for defending her child (good for her), but would any of you condemn the mom for saying, "honey, why don't you try on a Shaggy costume?"

Condemn, no, but certainly not applaud. This reminded me so much of a conversation I had with my physical therapist a couple of years ago. She was a perfectly nice person, clearly a caring and committed parent, yata yata. So we were chatting aimlessly one day as you do during the torture routine, and I mentioned how much I love my Yak-Trax cleat dealies that attach to the bottom of my boots and create excellent traction for winter dog-walking.

So Beth the therapist says, "Hey, my son [who must've been around 10, 11?] wanted to get a pair of those for walking to school. He thought they were cool. But I told him, 'Oh, honey, you really need to think about that. I don't think it's a good idea . . . . the other kids would think you were weird." And so on.

Do I condemn her? Well, not really; I'm sure she was just being "protective" or whatever, but Jesus, Yak Trax! And millions and millions of parents out there doing the same -- making their kids afraid of doing anything even remotely non-conformist or coloring one millimeter outside the lines -- they're the ones who create and perpetuate the same narrowness in their children.

I mean, Beth was absolutely right. I was targeted as "weird" from kindergarten through college and beyond for nothing, absolutely nothing but innocuous oddball stuff that got magnified exponentially into "she's Not One of Us." What we need is for every parent to encourage their kids to be as weird as possible. If every kid were a little bit weirder, nobody would stand out.
posted by FelliniBlank at 3:34 PM on November 4, 2010 [12 favorites]


I think most people in this thread (and I understand this) have a problem with the idea of parents guiding their children into prevailing social norms. Some parents might get clearly abusive towards their sons even playing with their mother's clothes, and that's obviously terrible-- let the kids play at home. I understand the instinct to find that sort of "this is how you go along to get along" social instruction uncomfortable, but it really is part of growing up, in the same way that parents teach their children how to handle themselves at a restaurant.

Being polite to others at a restaurant is showing appropriate consideration for others.

Bowing to others' bigotry, not so much. And it's not like the kid received any flak from his classmates--it was all Dirty Looks and Judgey Comments from the other parents.

I guess I'm glad I never grew up, if this is "part of growing up", and I wish my parents were still alive so I could thank them for not telling me that I couldn't express myself in case the other parents gave them Dirty Looks or Judgey Comments.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:37 PM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Not to mention that the woman in my tale was more concerned about her kid seeming strange than about his falling on the ice and breaking his fucking back.
posted by FelliniBlank at 3:37 PM on November 4, 2010


Just like to note that adult costume parties, especially if you can't pick the adults, tend to be pretty obnoxiously judgmental too.
posted by klangklangston at 3:40 PM on November 4, 2010


Velma was the bespectacled one who said "Jinkies". Daphne was the "hot" one.

Ha, not according to the Internets.
posted by dgaicun at 3:42 PM on November 4, 2010


Amazing, 160 comments and no one's mentioned William Wants a Doll.
posted by chavenet at 3:47 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I see about 50 versions of the "reasonable suggestion that social camouflage is a valuable skill" versus "statement about how the previous poster is enabling bigotry and I know people get beaten and bullied to the point of suicide for being different, that's not the way things SHOULD be" in this thread and it makes me sad.

Also agreeing with upthread sentiments about how mom probably had an axe to grind, as evidenced by supporting her child's decision to wear the costume enthusiastically and then going against his later apprehensions about wearing it; are you supporting the child or not
posted by tehloki at 4:14 PM on November 4, 2010


I was weird in elementary school. My daughter was weird in elementary school. My husband was weird in elementary school. I support weirdness in elementary school. And vengeance, on occasion.
posted by Peach at 4:19 PM on November 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


"If you're a guy who "looks" gay, even if you're not actually gay, how far should you go to hide that?"

I think that fallacy of the beard put this into words better than me, so I'm just going to copy-and-paste it: "fighting for a better environment and giving your child practical advice on how to be safe are not mutually exclusive."

So to more directly answer the question, how far should you go to hide that? Ideally, and in probably most situations, you shouldn't. You should be who you are, and to hell with anyone who doesn't like it. If the result is taunting, bullying, or even violence, the better course of action by far is to stand up for yourself, and work to change the attitudes of those who don't accept you, or at least change their behavior if you can't change their mind.

However if you're a minor who feels they are likely to be kicked out of their home if they come out, there is no shame in waiting until you're financially independent to do so. Or if your parents are supportive, but one of your gay classmates has already been tied to a fence and beaten to death, maybe now is not quite the right time, no?
posted by CrayDrygu at 4:24 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


"...maybe now is not quite the right time, no?"

I should clarify this. I mean not the right time to come out to your classmates. But it is certainly the right time to get your supportive parents to advocate for a better school environment. This may lead to you being outed, but hopefully with support it won't have the same consequences as the last guy.

This is, of course, assuming supportive parents. If we take the worst of my two scenarios - parents likely to kick you out, and classmates who might kill you - how do you stand up for yourself then?
posted by CrayDrygu at 4:28 PM on November 4, 2010


However if you're a minor who feels they are likely to be kicked out of their home if they come out, there is no shame in waiting until you're financially independent to do so.

I agree with you completely on this point, and I'm not advocating that every potentially queer kid come flying out the closet at the earliest opportunity regardless of consequences.

Of course parents should help their kids figure out how to stay safe. But again, how far do you go to hide weirdness, and what, exactly, is the weirdness that should be hidden? A ton of boys get bullied or teased about being gay, but most of them are not in fact gay. They display some trait that other kids decide is gay (or "gay") - they walk funny, or like science, or aren't good at sports, or whatever.

I'd be interested in your take on my earlier question: If you're a teenage girl who gets called "dyke" a lot, what should you do? Should you stop playing sports? Should you become sexually active with boys before you're ready? Be sure to always wear makeup and grow your hair long and only ever wear skirts?


Most of the anti-gay bullying that happens to kids doesn't happen because (if a boy) the kid is a flaming queen with painted nails and a lisp. Likewise, the girls tagged as dykes aren't all short-haired softball players (or: the short-haired softball players are actually straight!).

How - let alone why - do you "camouflage" a trait you're not actually flaunting?
posted by rtha at 4:33 PM on November 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


The specter of a bunch of angry people out there with bats waiting to beat you up is the most insidious thing. I can't tell you how many times I heard someone say, "You'll get beat up if you go outside looking like that" or somesuch. Were there really that many beatings where I grew up? Probably not really. But it was casually alluded to so often that you couldn't help imagining it whenever you did or wore something unusual. I remember the first time I (a young male) dyed my hair a dark red color -- this was rural AZ in the mid-nineties, it was pretty provocative behavior! I remember the look of humiliation on my dad's face when he saw me leaving the house. I remember going out with friends feeling incredibly watchful. Where would the attack come from? Who would throw the first stone? I did it knowing full well that I was essentially giving people permission to target me. And I still did it!

It was such a tiny thing, silly really. But I look back at the kid I was, the one who died his hair weird colors, who wore jewelry from the Renaissance festival, who deliberately painted on his clothes. These trappings which would be cliche by almost anyone standards, which were still relatively uncharted terrain in that time and place. Blending in hadn't worked out so hot for me, so I decided to gradually up the stakes. I began to incite comment.

Looking back now, I can see there was a hint of something fatalistic in that act: I was completely incapable of defending myself, but I elected to stick my neck out all the same. I was not brave. If I was going to get my head kicked in, I just wanted it over sooner rather than later.

But -- eh. A few people snickered, and others shouted slurs. A few people used violence to intimidate me, but they were the same ones who already always had.

Where were the people who were out there waiting to beat me up for not dutifully performing masculinity? The people I had heard about my whole life? I kept waiting for them. I still think about them at times, they sneak back into my brain. I look at myself in the mirror, and I consult this imaginary roving gang of thugs. Would they have a quibble with these trousers? With this hairstyle? I'll change. Sometimes I dress FOR them -- I square my jaw and apply the eyeliner double-thick. I draw myself up to my full height and put on the most vibrant magenta cashmere, I practice my defiant sneer.

It is still sad.

Where did the beater-uppers in my brain come from? They came from my mom, my aunts and uncles. They came from my friends, who obtained them from their own loving guardians. All these adults who grew up being embarrassed by the spectacle other people made of themselves in the '60s and '70s. The hippies and queers. Everyone knew that beating up hippies and queers was fair game really. After a while you didn't have to even actually perform the beating anymore -- just send the message. You walk into town with a ponytail, and the populace will start fumbling for its pocketknives.

I hate it. This post by this woman made me tear up. I am going to write her a letter. I don't care if it's true, I don't care if I am even marginally more likely to get actually BEAT UP because I wore the kiss-print shaped sunglasses to the gym. We need to dig those imaginary bullies out our brains, so that they don't serve as a cultural place-holder for actual real-life bullies.
posted by hermitosis at 4:50 PM on November 4, 2010 [31 favorites]


In my high school, on halloween, a guy came in wearing a nun's habit and bullet belts toting a toy AK-47. If anyone asked he said he was "Sister Rambo." It was one of the hit costumes of the day.
posted by jonmc at 5:09 PM on November 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


There was also a dude who dressed as Princess Leia. He was in my history class and nobody said doodley squat about it. (Although truth be told I was said that he didn't make his braids out of danishes, but what can you do?)
posted by jonmc at 5:13 PM on November 4, 2010


My previously mentioned impulse to police my 4 year old kid when I observe him saying or doing things that are not heteronormative drives me nuts and makes me feel like a bad parent. Just yesterday, I involuntarily flinched when he said that his friend Lucas was "so cute" with a little falsetto. Then there's the tinge of anxiety that I feel when I observe how disinterested he is with activities such as playing ball or climbing trees. It all comes down to this fear that he will be a target if other people notice that he's "different". Other unusual behaviors such as his tendency to disrobe at the drop of a hat in the presence of women, bother me less. Again, it comes down to what I've internalized as socially acceptable behaviors for boys: a "girl-crazy" little boy who gets naked for female attention is acceptable but a little boy who is disinterested in playing ball and refers to other little boys as cute is not. I hate that I'm bothered by such insignifigant things and hate that I have to struggle to not lay it on my kid.
posted by echolalia67 at 5:22 PM on November 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


I made this life-size cutout of the "Strength" tarot card to promote an event I was hosting, hoping people in NYC would take their pictures with it.

You know who really loved it? Children. (Too bad, they were too short to reach it without help.) And I can't even tell you how many little boys between 5 and 10 ran up to it yelling, "MOM! DAD! LOOK! Take my picture!" And then tried to put their face through the hole. And as opposed to the parents of little girls who did this, the parents of little boys would unvaryingly (and rather sharply) drag the kid away or otherwise uncomfortably demur. Because it was a picture of a woman (albeit one prying a lion's jaws apart), and the suitcase next to it said "MEET THE LADY" on it in big letters.

Seriously I watched this happen like 15 times in the course of a few hours. I thought of my own dad every time, and how NYC parents were supposed to be different somehow, but ultimately just weren't. Reading your comment, echolalia67, I totally understand how instinctive that must be. I can't imagine deconstructing it on the spot, and by the time that moment has passed, my kid would already have learned something based on my knee-jerk reaction.

Being a parent is hard :(
posted by hermitosis at 5:33 PM on November 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


See this is ho you do it! you dont write a book about it and then parade him around.

I also loved her comment about not worrying that the other children will become ninjas.
posted by AzzaMcKazza at 5:36 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


The problem here is that it's so hard to teach social skills. You want your child to be able to pick up on cues about what's socially acceptable and what isn't so that they don't wind up friendless and isolated, no matter what their sexual orientation.

But some things that are still to some degree "socially acceptable" like targeting gay people, geeks, etc *shouldn't* be socially acceptable. And we want to change that. So how do you do that and let your kid be who he or she is without making your child a target? What's interesting to me is that some people who are very different *but also* intensely socially skilled often *aren't* targeted by bullies— they are, in fact, quite popular. These are kids who could violate every convention in the book and not only not get targeted but actually start trends that overturn those conventions. *These* are the kids who can truly prevent bullies from hurting others if they simply don't tolerate it. They're the ones who can make bullying uncool.

So you want your child to read the right social cues and be able to stand up to the ones that need to be changed. This is difficult and this discussion shows why.
posted by Maias at 5:53 PM on November 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


I smell soapbox. Being a little boy and wanting to wear a girl costume for Halloween in all likelihood has not one thing to do with sexuality. I've said it before here, and I must repeat myself -- kids are not little adults. This kid's choice is not evidencing a prediliction for ANYTHING, and his mom's battle cry reeks of sanctimonious bloggy-opportunism to me, not good parenting. The answer to the meddling mothers (and I don't even buy the story she tells) is, "Mind your business," not a screed on the internet with a giant picture of your kid, under the guise of protecting him. Good grief.
posted by thinkpiece at 6:09 PM on November 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


Absolutely adorable costume, brave, wise post.
posted by arnicae at 6:33 PM on November 4, 2010


Being a little boy and wanting to wear a girl costume for Halloween in all likelihood has not one thing to do with sexuality.

Funny, that's exactly what she says in the post.
posted by hermitosis at 6:38 PM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Being a little boy and wanting to wear a girl costume for Halloween in all likelihood has not one thing to do with sexuality.

HOLY SHIT REALLY TELL ME MORE
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 6:46 PM on November 4, 2010


hermitosis, why 'funny'? I read it, I saw it (and it's not exactly what she says, but I take your point). Good she got that, yay. Her job was to listen to her kid, first and foremost, not persuade him to stick to wobbly five-year-old guns to make a point. She should have said, Well, how about on the top half you're Daphne and on the bottom half, you wear your jeans and sneakers? Or, maybe, Would a Batman cape on top of your costume make you feel less worried? Or, do you want me to figure out a different costume, right here in the car? Time much better spent than working up the provocative title for her blog. Sorry, he's 5. Five.
posted by thinkpiece at 6:48 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


We don't know what the conversation in the car was, what she offered, how long it lasted, or what. And frankly, who cares? No one (hopefully) thinks that she frog-marched him to school in drag already salivating about the amazing blog post she was going to write.

He had qualms, but he didn't throw a fit or anything. He got bashful. Kids do this all the time even when they're not wearing a costume. Either way, his enthusiasm up until that point was really all she had to go on -- and like you said, he's 5. Five. What ought he even fear, especially with so many adults present?

People are hot about this issue right now, and thus we get a wide spectrum of messages from a wide spectrum of voices, though they mostly seem to sing in chorus. Picking apart a woman's cry for tolerance and trying to paint her as a bad or selfish or unresponsive mom is worse than counterproductive. It's just sour.

You know how when someone complains about certain kinds of posts on MeFi and people always chime in to say, "If the content isn't up to your standards, then you should start posting more!" Well... that, except in real life! Go for it.
posted by hermitosis at 7:01 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure what your last couple of sentences mean. I didn't pick her apart, didn't say she was bad or selfish or unresponsive, and I did not complain about the quality of the post. I question her priorities, particularly in light of the piece's provocative title. And if by "Go for it," you mean I should walk in her shoes before I comment, Well ... that, and yes, in real life. My kid is gay.
posted by thinkpiece at 7:17 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


His mom's battle cry reeks of sanctimonious bloggy-opportunism to me

I noticed that in addition to posting on her personal blog, the author also submitted her piece to Offbeat Mama. So yeah, there might be some bloggy-opportunism going on, and I can't say I'm a huge fan of that, particularly when it comes to involving children. Stuff can blow up on the internet beyond your wildest dreams, and until Google hits an iceberg, the internet is FOREVER.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:40 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Good for this mom. I'm always floored by the number of preschool teachers who seem aghast at boys who lean the slightest bit away from trains/cars/army men. At the preschool where I used to work, the kids figured out pretty quickly that I'd get whatever they wanted out of the dress-up box for them. One little boy told me he needed the Tinkerbell dress. So I get it out, get him velcro-ed into it, and he tells me that he needs the sparkly shoes that go with it. We get the shoes and squish his Spiderman-socked feet into them. He looked up at me, beaming.

"Miss Corey?"

"Yeah, Nolan?"

"I'm Tinkerbell's dad."

My heart grew three sizes that day.
posted by corey flood at 7:47 PM on November 4, 2010 [10 favorites]


You know my Mothers son is gay (my brother) and I incidentally also have a lesbian sister as well as a straight one. We all love each other and get on extremely well but if my mum outed my brother on the internet when he was 5 in order to feel self righteous about some narrow minded bigots we would definitely all have thought she was being a bit of a dick no matter how noble she may have thought her intentions...

Maybe have a think about how this kid is going to feel when he is about 13 and just starting to go through puberty and comes across this on the internet or even worse if his school friends do.
posted by benny at 8:07 PM on November 4, 2010


Eh, her son may or may not be gay, but a future Philadelphia Mummer? I think definitely yes.
posted by medeine at 8:42 PM on November 4, 2010


benny, did you RTFA? She isn't outing him, she's saying she doesn't know or care whether he's gay. Other than the embarrassment factor of silly pics of kids in their Halloween costumes being posted on the Internet (something that virtually every kid nowadays will face down the road), what exactly will there be for him to be ashamed of?
posted by hermitosis at 8:47 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


THE TITLE?

Oh, you mean his peers are gonna read the text. Oh yeah. Right. Gotcha.
posted by unSane at 9:02 PM on November 4, 2010


Do you see his full name anywhere in the post, or any information that a peer would even be able to link to him? Me neither.
posted by hermitosis at 9:25 PM on November 4, 2010


THE TITLE?

Personally, I'd like to think that in the next 8 years, someone with an ounce of sense will teach him and his peers that being gay is nothing to be ashamed of.
posted by zarq at 9:27 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


And that’s where things went wrong. Two mothers went wide-eyed and made faces as if they smelled decomp.

I'm leery of embellishments of this sort, since they're entirely subjective and cannot be disputed, and especially in light of the fact that the author obviously had scanners up for any sort of reaction to her son's costume. The moms could have done nothing more than a double-take, and this woman could have easily spun that into the bug-eyed stinkfaces she describes in the above excerpt. No one can tell her that isn't what she saw.

So I say, “Doesn’t he look great?”

OK, so she basically throws down the gauntlet here. She solicits their opinion. She dares these women to have a problem with his costume. She practically wants them to. She's like a bully in the Schoolyard of Self-Righteousness, looking to pick a fight.

And Mom A says in disgust, “Did he ask to be that?!”

Again, the indisputable embellishments are self-serving. Notice the "?!" combo at the end of Mom A's question--very telling.

I say that he sure did as Halloween is the time of year that you can be whatever it is that you want to be. They continue with their nosy, probing questions as to how that was an option and didn’t I try to talk him out of it.

"Nosy, probing questions"? It was you who decided to start up a conversation about your son's costume; not them.

Mom B mostly just stood there in shock and dismay.

Yet again, a subjective perception that may or may not be real but is nonetheless impossible to dispute.

The woman then discusses "Mom C" coming over and expressing disapproval. OK, yeah, fine. I guess. Although Mom C did seem to be coming from the perspective of "children can be so mean", which is much less of a concern than if she'd been coming from the perspective of "this is a sin unto the Lord" or "this will confuse him about sex/gender roles" or "homosexuality is a choice and you're encouraging it." But yeah, fine, I'll give you that Mom C did overstep her bounds. Nonetheless, I think this story is mainly a boast about how proud this woman was of her tolerance of her son's costume choice, that she choreographed into a heroic tale of her superiority through both her actual actions during the event itself, as well as her highly slanted retelling of what happened.
posted by jeremy b at 9:28 PM on November 4, 2010


Wow, jeremy b, that is the most uncharitable reading of this piece possible. Is it really so hard to believe that there are moms who would make stinky faces at a little boy daring to flout gender norms? I think the piece is well-written and certainly rings true to me. And saying, "so, doesn't he look great?" is "throwing down the gauntlet" to you? I think it's wonderful that she is so proud of her son's costume choice. She ought to be, he sounds like a great kid. I hope there is more publicity for this story, whatever your unkind readings of her motivations may be. The more of these stories we have out there the easier it will be for kids who are a little "weird" to realize that there are lots of people like them out there.
posted by peacheater at 9:39 PM on November 4, 2010


Those trying hardest to ascribe the mom's post to some sort of agenda are themselves the ones who come across as seeming to have a noxious agenda of their own.

I'm not saying she's perfect or that misgivings aren't welcome. But sheesh, some of you have some real issues.
posted by hermitosis at 9:46 PM on November 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


Do you see his full name anywhere in the post, or any information that a peer would even be able to link to him? Me neither.

It has his photograph in it, and has gone viral. If it isn't linked to in his social environment by tomorrow, I would be astonished.
posted by unSane at 9:52 PM on November 4, 2010


Personally, I'd like to think that in the next 8 years, someone with an ounce of sense will teach him and his peers that being gay is nothing to be ashamed of.

Sure, I hope that too, Zarq. In the meantime he's 5 in a socially conservative community and his Mom made a post about him titled MY SON IS GAY. Could be a long 8 years.
posted by unSane at 9:54 PM on November 4, 2010


> Wow, jeremy b, that is the most uncharitable reading of this piece possible.
Well, it certainly is an uncharitable reading... but with so many hypercharitable and utterly uncritical interpretations and voices already chiming in, I'm more than glad to make a place at the table for this line of reasoning.
> Is it really so hard to believe that there are moms who would make stinky faces at a little boy daring to flout gender norms?
It's not at all hard to believe that. It's also not at all hard to believe that there are moms who would twist or skew anecdotal reactions so as to better characterize themselves as the crusader they envision themselves as.

I'm content to accept her retelling more or less as-is, and it makes me happy. But let's not fall all over ourselves pretending that there does not exist a high likelihood of embellisment, small or large. Jeremy B's cynicism is welcomed in this discussion; shame to those who would think otherwise.
posted by jjjjjjjijjjjjjj at 10:15 PM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


All I saw in that picture was the CUTEST DAPHNE EVAR!
posted by IndigoRain at 11:06 PM on November 4, 2010


When I read this, I was reminded of when I was a child and really, REALLY wanted these G.I. Joe action figures that changed color when you put them in water. I was a spoiled little princess otherwise, but my mom wouldn't get those (or any boy toys) for me for Christmas because she thought it might make me a lesbian. She wasn't homophobic, exactly -- it was more a it's-easier-to-be-average thing -- but it would have been awesome if she had reacted like this mom. Not just for my sake, but all because I wouldn't have stolen my male cousin's Shredder doll (from the Ninja Turtles); so many Barbies died at Shredder's hand. He had a cavalry of My Little Ponies and the Barbies had like, one car and no weapons. It was a massacre, and it was my mother who refused to arm them. She bought them clothes instead, but they're of no use to the dead.

Anyway, I'm bisexual, so it didn't work. Or maybe it did? Either way, it worked out alright for the boy in my kindergarten class who played with my My Little Ponies at recess because I didn't want to, and I got to play with his Matchbox Racers. YOU CAN'T STOP THE TIDE
posted by Nattie at 11:37 PM on November 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


In our kindergarden they have a chest of clothes for playing dress-up. My son is 2 1/2. All the boys in his group have one dress each which they consider "theirs". My son't favourite is the pink one. That is all.
posted by Harald74 at 1:47 AM on November 5, 2010


Those trying hardest to ascribe the mom's post to some sort of agenda are themselves the ones who come across as seeming to have a noxious agenda of their own. If you mean me, I'll take the responsibility for not having communicated properly. I have no noxious agenda. My agenda is the opposite of noxious, it's actually kind of pure, in that I have what appears to be hope that the littlest kids can just not be a part of this public 'dialogue'. I don't like that the mom put him front and center. I don't see how that's a noxious agenda, I really don't. I would have said the same thing if the title had been My Son is a Vegan. He's 5, leave him alone.
posted by thinkpiece at 4:10 AM on November 5, 2010


The pedantic part of me gets so irritated about the conflation of "gay" and "likes to wear girl clothes" (sexual orientation and gender identity).

Oh yes, but do you think the prejudiced care?

I grew up different too, so although I'm straight and cisgendered, I inwardly cheer every time I hear about moms like this, or Constance McMillen, or the kids who voted a transgender kid Homecoming King. If someone had told me at ten or twelve or fifteen that none of this shit matters because I'll become an adult and they'll stay adult-aged children, I would have been so very happy.
posted by mippy at 5:18 AM on November 5, 2010


Sorry, that first line should have been in italics. I was too busy copying the link to send to a drag-queen colleague - maybe he'll go as Daphne to our next work party/
posted by mippy at 5:19 AM on November 5, 2010


From the OP: WHO WOULD MAKE FUN OF A CHILD IN A COSTUME ON HALLOWEEN

Really? How about ANY CHILD EVER BORN? I think this is awesome that she had no problem with her kid dressing up as Daphne, and defended him so strongly, but is she being deliberately obtuse in pretending that children don't make fun of each other? When I was a kid, other kids would make fun of costumes simply for being too cheap, or not "cool enough." (ie "a Power Ranger? Dude, they are *so* two years ago") - I can't imagine that kids today are any different. The proper lesson here is not to tell your kid "No, why would they make fun of you? They won't make fun of you" but rather "So what if they make fun of you?"

Also - she should really consider anonymizing her whois information... Yes, she doesn't name her son in the post, and her name doesn't seem to be anywhere on her site, but her name (presumably) is right there in the registration information for her domain.
posted by antifuse at 6:04 AM on November 5, 2010


Jeremy B's cynicism is welcomed in this discussion; shame to those who would think otherwise.

He's welcome to chime in, but no skunk should be surprised to find itself unwelcome to a picnic. The "issues" I was referring to rest in the fact that some see the need to step in as some sort of regulator so that people won't take a personal blog post written my a mom too seriously. As if it's our first day at the internet and the rest of us haven't figured out how to smell things out for ourselves. There are plenty of critical impressions in this thread, ranging from thoughtful to lunkheaded, and anyone landing feet-first in here at this point with the aim of doing some critically important truth-tellin' really just is operating on their own agenda.

In the meantime he's 5 in a socially conservative community and his Mom made a post about him titled MY SON IS GAY. Could be a long 8 years.

Just curious -- are any of the people here who are worried about this sort of thing actually gay? I guess other than CrayGrygu? Because otherwise I just see this kind of reaction as more of the same cultural reinforcement of bullying I described upthread: straight people nervous at the idea of a child's priveleged, "safe" straight status being stripped away, shadows of the faceless hooligans with bats. Whereas the gays I know who've read this all seem to be really happy she did this, and really wish they grew up with a parent like this. Urging people to self-censor, to blend in or pipe down for fear of some formidable, unknown risk, urging people not to make waves, not to speak up, for fear that it might make life more difficult for someone, years down the road -- that's irrational and cowardly, and it is part of the problem. It's as much a "sympathetic" straight status-quo problem as it is a gay problem... maybe more, even.

She is trying to protect her kid's right to be an individual, perhaps even an unusual one. She is standing alongside him as he navigates the perils of that. If it comes back to bite him some day, then as long as he is raised by this woman he'll probably know just how to deal with it.
posted by hermitosis at 6:11 AM on November 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'm answering for myself only, hermitosis -- you are misreading me. You are a sophisticated enough poster not to use the ol' "the only people who can understand are the people who are actually having the experience" argument. Isn't being the parent of a 25 year old gay child (yes, I know she's an adult but she's my 5 year old too, forever) close enough for rock and roll on this one? I'm out.
posted by thinkpiece at 6:31 AM on November 5, 2010


I think you might be misunderstanding how many of my thoughts are directed at you specifically, thinkpiece. Sorry about that.

My point, that the ascribing of the actions and motivations of theoretical future bullies to an intelligent mother's good intentions comes from a place of personal fear, probably has its roots in the fact that most of us nerdy types, straight or otherwise, experienced bullying and would like to spare our (in many cases, theoretical) children as much of that pain as possible. We have it deeply ingrained in us that adult intervention doesn't work, that it just makes things worse for the kids when the adults leave the room. That is the exact opposite sentiment that people are currently working to instill in our children. Perhaps the only way it will work is by creating a generation of children who police themselves and each other, who aren't afraid to defend each other's oddnesses or intervene when there is danger (or even better -- before there is danger). And we do this by setting the kind of example that this mom has.

I'm out too.
posted by hermitosis at 6:52 AM on November 5, 2010


Interview with "Sarah" (the mother) on CNN: video.
posted by ericb at 7:47 AM on November 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


When I was five I had a cowboy suit. I really really liked the cowboy suit and wore it all the time. I was a solitary child and wasn't much interested in friends. There were some kids at the end of the road my mother thought I should be friends with, so one day she dressed me in the cowboy suit and took me down to play with them. I TOLD her it was a bad idea but she didn't listen.

The kids laughed at the cowboy suit, hit me with sticks and chased me up a tree.
posted by unSane at 7:59 AM on November 5, 2010


When I was a kid, other kids would make fun of costumes simply for being too cheap, or not "cool enough."

I can picture teens, maybe tweens, doing this, but the thought of it happening at five really, really depresses me.
posted by mippy at 8:00 AM on November 5, 2010


FWIW -- from CNN phone interview: it's a purchased costume; a friend (a girl) of his also went as Daphne and the other kids "high fived" them, etc.
posted by ericb at 8:01 AM on November 5, 2010


If a child were being taunted, threatened or beaten up for being physically disabled, Black, Latin, Asian, White or any other sort of visible minority, how would you suggest they handle it?

Hit first, hit harder.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 8:02 AM on November 5, 2010


As of this morning, her blog post has received over 19,000 comments and 1,000,000 page views.
posted by ericb at 8:06 AM on November 5, 2010


Hit first, hit harder.

Yes, that seems particularly appropriate in the case of someone who is physically disabled.

Your suggestion doesn't seem realistic to me.
posted by zarq at 8:24 AM on November 5, 2010


Yes, that seems particularly appropriate in the case of someone who is physically disabled.

Your suggestion doesn't seem realistic to me.


Ok.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 8:39 AM on November 5, 2010


I just posted this on my facebook page and, lo and behold, here it is on MeFi!
posted by sleeping beauty at 9:15 AM on November 5, 2010


I can picture teens, maybe tweens, doing this, but the thought of it happening at five really, really depresses me.

Children are monsters. Yes, even 5 year old children. Especially 5 year old children.

And in other news, she anonymized her whois information since this morning (presumably after all the attention her blog post received). Good.
posted by antifuse at 11:32 AM on November 5, 2010


Well, whatever else becomes of this story at least it gave a bunch of people a chance to clutch their pearls and beg us to think of the children. Which is nice because we don't get enough of that these days.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 1:04 PM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Children are monsters.

They really aren't. They're just little people.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:50 PM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Children are monsters.

They really aren't.


No, really, they are.
posted by hippybear at 2:27 PM on November 5, 2010


"Urging people to self-censor, to blend in or pipe down for fear of some formidable, unknown risk, urging people not to make waves, not to speak up, for fear that it might make life more difficult for someone, years down the road -- that's irrational and cowardly, and it is part of the problem." -- hermitosis

Am I still coming across as if I am encouraging people "not to make waves"? Because I emphatically agree with your statement, there.
posted by CrayDrygu at 3:26 PM on November 5, 2010


I hate to agree with the cynics, and that child is totally adorable, but this reads to me like the mother has a mild case of Münchausen syndrome by proxy.
posted by puny human at 4:08 PM on November 5, 2010


[jeremy b] is welcome to chime in, but no skunk should be surprised to find itself unwelcome to a picnic.

Isn't this begging the question, hermitosis? You're defending your stance of disagreeing with my post by saying my post was disagreeable.

And I'm really not sure if you think I'm welcome or not, since you say that I'm welcome, yet in the same breath you go on to say that I--the skunk--shouldn't be surprised that I'm unwelcome.

The "issues" I was referring to rest in the fact that some see the need to step in as some sort of regulator so that people won't take a personal blog post written by a mom too seriously

I have no problem with people taking the subject matter and the overarching social issues represented by the post seriously. It's just that the poster really doesn't make a compelling enough case to warrant the amount of negativity I see directed towards the "moms" who in my opinion have become unwitting targets of negativity and childish name-calling throughout the comments on this very page (see the unsurprisingly popular very first comment, for example), with no way of defending themselves or sharing their side of the story.

You can argue, no real harm, it's all anonymous--but it isn't: the woman posted her son's real photo, so all bets are off. If the "moms" come across this piece online, they'll know the author is talking about *them*.



As if it's our first day at the internet and the rest of us haven't figured out how to smell things out for ourselves.

So you're saying your own sense of judgment w/r/t the degree of credibility you assign to something you've read is satsifactory, and does not require comments from others (chalk another one up for "unwelcome", I guess). Well, okay. That's your choice. Perhaps I'm too open-minded, but I prefer to get as many perspectives as possible before arriving at a conclusion about pretty much anything worth caring about (again, this is why I would want to hear this story told from the side of the moms).

The actual "offenses" the author says these women committed are so laden with embellishment that this is one of those instance where I think more information is necessary before I can passj udgment. So yeah, I did have an "agenda" of my own with my comment: to protect the dignity of the women who in my opinion really didn't do anything worthy of being referred to as "douchebuckets", or whatever. Is that really so "noxious"?
posted by jeremy b at 4:32 PM on November 5, 2010


this reads to me like the mother has a mild case of Münchausen syndrome by proxy

Wait, what?

You're saying that you find equivalency between a child choosing a halloween costume and his mother asking him repeatedly if he's committed to wearing it and then that child attending a gathering wearing said costume while his mother confronts negative reactions from other parents at the gathering... with a parent fabricating medical conditions in their child, often to the detriment of that child's health, in order to gain the attention that parent pathologically needs....

Okay. I'm pretty sure you're wrong, actually. And a tad reckless with the parallels you draw re: psychological conditions.
posted by hippybear at 4:36 PM on November 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


> [regarding an accusation of Münchausen's by Proxy] You're saying that you find equivalency between a child choosing a halloween costume and his mother asking him repeatedly if he's committed to wearing it and then that child attending a gathering wearing said costume while his mother confronts negative reactions from other parents at the gathering... with a parent fabricating medical conditions in their child, often to the detriment of that child's health, in order to gain the attention that parent pathologically needs....
I'll not speak for the author of that post, but your characterization of his/her argument is absolute wankery. He or She neither said nor implied any such thing, and you're a lazy arguer for having conceived, typed, and submitted this travesty of a bad-faith willful distortion.

The accusation of Münchausen's by Proxy was, no doubt, misplaced. Wrong, even. But I can find nothing in the original post that would indicate that the parallels you're ascribing could strike any reasonable person as a likely summary of the ones that were intended by his/her statement. I'm supposing that you knew that and proceeded anyway, but I welcome correction.

I'm on record as accepting the mother's description of these interactions as plausible and admissible interpretations of actual events. I'll make this clear. I have no axe to grind and I am proceeding with the assumption that she is a laudable progressive who did a good thing.

The note that was struck by her description of events that, I'm almost sure, elicited the (admittedly baseless) accusation of Münchausen's by Proxy was her seeming willingness to bask in the accolades elicited by a (sorta sanctimonious, if we're being honest) retelling of a misfortune suffered by her progeny. That much, I'd think, would be obvious to most anyone. Your disingenuous bunny-trail misinterpretation that allowed you to turn it into what you presented as your honest reading is the height of petulant insincerity.

To head off any knee-jerkers: Mom good. Story positive. I believe it. No problems with her version of events or her conclusions. That said: something's seeming off to enough folks that you and others who would like this discussion to be more unilateral should listen to their input without reflexively trotting out the long knives.
posted by jjjjjjjijjjjjjj at 7:14 PM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Long knives? Really? For questioning someone's rather extreme inappropriate psychiatric diagnosis based on a blog post? I hardly think that's a good case for me going on the attack with long knives. If anything, it's the overwhelming cynicism of some here who have stopped only a couple of words short of calling the author a liar who seem to have out the whetstones and are sharpening.

Perhaps I was wrong in my remembering of the situation based on my earlier reading of the blog post. I look at it now, and I don't see that she questioned him about it. She didn't give in to him right away, certainly. And she did insist that he follow through with his costume choice even when he expressed doubts about wearing it. So she didn't "ask him repeatedly". But she did wait until HE asked for it repeatedly before she even made the purchase. That comes from the text.

I'm certainly not asking for unilateral discussion, by any means. But you've mischaracterized my comment and my motivations in this thread entirely.

Less bad attempts at mind reading; more clear response to what has been written. That's what you ask of me re: the FPP article. I ask no less of you.
posted by hippybear at 7:31 PM on November 5, 2010


NYTimes, The Well: When Boys Dress Like Girls for Halloween
But on the same CNN program, a clinical psychologist, Dr. Jeff Gardere, accused the mom of “outing” her son by posting the photo on the Internet. “With all due respect, whether your child is gay or straight, I think you kind of outed him by putting him in the blog,” Dr. Gardere said.

The mother responded that her son has not been “outed,” because nobody knows the child’s sexual orientation. “First of all, he’s 5 years old,” she said on the program. “He’s made no sexual conscious choice — which I don’t believe it is (a choice) — but he’s made no overtures either way at the age of 5. I feel that people are reading into it in a negative way.”

She said her son simply loves Scooby-Doo and that he and his best friend, a girl, decided to both dress as Daphne this year. “Halloween is a night to dress up,” she said on the program. “You get to be something you are not. He loves Scooby-Doo.”

posted by zarq at 7:35 PM on November 5, 2010


They really aren't. They're just little people.

Little people with little to no impulse control, and little to no concept of right and wrong. So yes, monsters.

Not even getting into the fact that full grown people are monsters quite often as well.
posted by antifuse at 7:48 PM on November 5, 2010


> Long knives? Really? For questioning someone's rather extreme inappropriate psychiatric diagnosis based on a blog post?
Long knives. Really.

C'mon now, this summary is so whitewashed and coy it borders on sophistry. You didn't simply "question someone's[...] psychiatric diagnosis based on a blog post", you willfully and maliciously distorted their harmless and heartfelt and perfectly intelligible interpretation of events until they rather conveniently resembled something hateful or not worthy of consideration. This and other efforts to stifle discussion based on wordplay and false-characterization have a chilling effect on discourse that I'd really like you to consider.

No matter how insulated you feel by whatever superficially-plausible "earnest misunderstanding" misdirections you're spouting, you've still been proceeding in bad-faith. I'm not the boss over you or anybody else; but I'd consider it a personal favor if you'd rethink how you're approaching this. As someone who's agreed with most of your sentiments in this thread, I'll tell you that it'd strengthen our position if you'd more earnestly and carefully consider the opinions of dissenters.
posted by jjjjjjjijjjjjjj at 10:45 PM on November 5, 2010


(I officially hate my own tone in my last post. I apologize to hippybear who -- even as I disagree with some of his thoughts on this matter -- was entirely undeserving of my vitriol. Our differences on this matter are very slight, and my objections were entirely too accusatory and bombastic.)
posted by jjjjjjjijjjjjjj at 11:04 PM on November 5, 2010


Goodness gracious.

I guess it's bad faith to question whether it's appropriate to accuse someone of having a serious psychiatric illness based on a blog post.

I stand corrected. The mother is a sick puppy who is doing harm to her child for her own attention. Which is, after all, what munchausen-by-proxy is.

I'll call the cops immediately. That child must be rescued.
posted by hippybear at 6:57 AM on November 6, 2010


Little people with little to no impulse control, and little to no concept of right and wrong. So yes, monsters.

I'm guessing you don't have kids. Most of them know "right and wrong" better than adults.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:48 PM on November 6, 2010


I'm guessing you don't have kids. Most of them know "right and wrong" better than adults.

I have a 1 and a half year old, which is a funny and hilarious age, but challenging for oh so many reasons. Having spent a not-insignificant amount of time with my cousin's kids (currently 9 and 10) in their early years (3-7 or so), I can vouch for the fact that young children might know the difference between right and wrong, but when they think they can get away with it? That difference doesn't matter (ie two kids playing alone in a room, one runs out screaming with a huge bite mark, the other child is placidly playing in the room, fully denying any involvement in said biting incident).

Yes, it's all in how you raise them, but left to their own devices? Lord of the Flies isn't too far off the mark.
posted by antifuse at 5:57 AM on November 8, 2010


Video: Moms of 'Daphne' and 'Princess Boy' Interviewed on the TODAY Show.
posted by ericb at 9:05 AM on November 8, 2010


CNN's Dr. Jeff Gardere Apologizes for Remarks on Cross-Dressing Kid.
posted by ericb at 9:06 AM on November 8, 2010


Mo-Om! When the Stars of Mommy Blogs Grow Up -- "'Mommy bloggers' question the lasting effect their online ramblings might have on their kids."
posted by ericb at 2:09 PM on November 9, 2010


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