Would all moral thugs please stand up.
June 1, 2004 6:48 AM   Subscribe

A mother talks about her son's childhood. I'm tired of your foolish rhetoric about the "homosexual agenda" and your allegations that accepting homosexuality is the same thing as advocating sex with children. You are cruel and ignorant. (via the chimps at Monkeyfilter)
posted by ashbury (53 comments total)
For those of you who reduce sexual orientation to a simple choice, a character issue, a bad habit or something that can be changed by a 10-step program, I'm puzzled.

see! the gay bastards have stolen two of the twelve steps!

but seriously, i was deeply moved by her eloquence. my own transgendered daughter, who grew up apart from me has, from time to time, revealed some of what she suffered because she didn't fit with the standard "femininity" checklist. and i would go one further - the entire societal machine is hardwired to grind to bits anyone who doesn't fit in any number of ways, sexual orientation notwithstanding.

great post, ashbury.
posted by quonsar at 7:05 AM on June 1, 2004

The story in the comments of the woman whose heterosexual daughter was shouted down as "lesbian" at her graduation is also interesting. (Better discussion going there than most blogs!)
posted by Zurishaddai at 7:17 AM on June 1, 2004

Wow. Thanks ashbury. Reading that gave me the sniffles.
posted by vito90 at 7:19 AM on June 1, 2004

Gay children are quite lucky to have parents defend them with such ardor,
and this note proves that considering their humanity makes hating any group harder.

I was engrossed--
cool post.
posted by troybob at 7:29 AM on June 1, 2004

I love this letter--saw it on atrios the other day. It's cheering and sad at the same time--maybe someday there won't be a need to defend any of us?
posted by amberglow at 7:32 AM on June 1, 2004

I too was engrossed heartfelt eloquence at its best, cheers.
posted by johnnyboy at 7:35 AM on June 1, 2004

Pretty much sums it up, doesn't it?

Which might be why there's some question at the bottom of the post as to whether the person who wrote the letter is real. A simple Google search solved that problem for me.
posted by attackthetaxi at 7:45 AM on June 1, 2004

When I was 12 the other boys in school called me "fag" all the time. It was hurtful and awful. What I wonder now is - how did they know? I didn't know.
posted by Nelson at 7:50 AM on June 1, 2004

Also, there's this, if there's any doubt about her existence.
posted by attackthetaxi at 7:52 AM on June 1, 2004

Great link. Anyone who doubts the attachment of queers to their families (and vice versa) needs to come to the Toronto pride parade and watch the PFLAG contingent. They are by far the most 'proud' looking people in the parade, and they always get a louder, more rapturous reception from the audience than any other participants do.
posted by stonerose at 8:02 AM on June 1, 2004

I read the comments following the letter. Came upon this (extracted)...perhaps it is more a basic human dislike of the 'other' or the 'unknown' that is more at work here ...and the poster? Anonymous.
posted by Postroad at 8:11 AM on June 1, 2004

Nelson: Didn't every 12 year old boy call every other 12 year old boy a fag?
posted by xmutex at 8:22 AM on June 1, 2004

xmutex: sure, 'fag' is tossed around all the time. (I was 12 in 1984). This was different. Not persistently, every day, me singled out as the little gay kid week after week, year after year. Serious, targeted, persistent harrassment happens in schools. Sometimes it's the gay kids who are the victims.

Now I'm older and the memory isn't so bitter. But I still wonder, how did they know?
posted by Nelson at 8:26 AM on June 1, 2004

Nelson: xmutex is right. It was just they happened to actually hit a target with their shotgun approach.
posted by Ynoxas at 8:27 AM on June 1, 2004

nelson - my guess is that they didn't. It got a reaction out of you so they continued. Everyone gets called 'fag'
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 8:39 AM on June 1, 2004

heck, troybob - anyone would be lucky to have a parent who'll defend them so eloquently and wholeheartedly.
posted by ubersturm at 8:58 AM on June 1, 2004

the mother is a warrior. it seems odd to say, but i think both she and her son are more realized and aware people because of their daily battles.
posted by oog at 9:05 AM on June 1, 2004

This woman is a hero; I could only hope that I would be so clear and outspoken under the same circumstances; I think think she is a modern-world saint.
posted by taz at 9:08 AM on June 1, 2004

that whole "fag" thing is kinda new...when i was in Elementary and Junior High/HS (70s-82), it was only used to mean fag, and not as an all-purpose, general insult the way it's used now.
posted by amberglow at 9:09 AM on June 1, 2004

But I still wonder, how did they know?

the woman's letter suggests that kids called her son those names because of his mannerisms and gestures, which didn't match theirs. David Sedaris has a funny piece about the unspoken bond of boys who lisped as he was growing up. I'm not trying to stereotype, but the boys who tend to get mercilessly called "fag" are the ones who have some of those stereotypically gay traits; some of them turn out to be gay, others just gothy; some of the non-stereotypical ones turn out to be gay, too. But the fact that some percentage of "faggy" boys turn out actually to be queer shouldn't surprise us :).
posted by mdn at 9:16 AM on June 1, 2004

Reading this discussion prompts in me the memory of being verbally assaulted on a daily basis, with the british equivalents, 'poof', 'queer', 'ponce', 'bumboy'. Not at school, mind, but by my brothers. I grew up with a deep feeling of being despised, even though I didnt - as far as I know - exhibit any visible signs of gayness. I didnt even know, actually.

And so what? Even if I was one of those in the mincing and lisping camp, so fucking what? That makes it ok?

My despair was amplified by the lack of intervention from mum and step-dad. It seemed to give the green light to the sneers, the putdowns, the incomprehensible attacks. I didnt deserve that, and nor does any gay kid. Lisping or not.

Didn't every 12 year old boy call every other 12 year old boy a fag?

Go work out your collaborationist guilt somewhere else - the chances are that if you werent the recipient of verbal abuse, you gave it.

And mdn - shove your fucking smileys up your arse - you think this is funny? Jackass.
posted by dash_slot- at 10:12 AM on June 1, 2004

It's a wonderful letter. It was also a wonderful letter four years ago, when it was written and published in response to the Vermont civil union debate. Surprised more people don't remember it; it made the rounds back then.
posted by Epenthesis at 10:15 AM on June 1, 2004

I'm with dash_slot. Anyone who could respond to Nelson's post with "Everyone was called fag" was never singled out. When it's happening to you, you know the difference. No doubt the people who've said that in this thread do not think of themselves as homophobic, but it's amazing how deeply rooted rooted such feelings are, as evidenced by the extraordinary difficulty some people have acknowledging how they buy in to it.
Nelson: I don't know how they knew either. Kids tend to respond at a much more instinctual level. The nasty pain of being excluded during adolescence is something that stays with you for a long time. That was precisely what I felt when I read this letter.
posted by divrsional at 10:27 AM on June 1, 2004

Do you not feel the anger this mum had for the people who inflicted that torment on her beloved son? How is that even comparable to the odd instance of a more confident boy being teased? Teasing - pisstaking - nobody does that better than a british gay guy, i could argue. But real homphobia is several orders of magnitude away from that.

Real homophobia is a bomb in a gay pub. Real homophobia is crucifying a student out on the desolate range. Real homophobia scapegoats innocents for society's ills.

It's a 7 year old boy sent home from school because his principal thinks that the word 'gay' is obscene (no matter that it was accurate, positive and self-applied to his own family members!).

Real homophobia is a family torn apart because the son/daughter/mum/dad is literally forced into exile, because the metropolitan area affords a hiding place, where the small town or suburbs exposes us to a lifetime of hate. A lifetime. Not a passing joke. That's what we get for breakfast.

Then we get out and start the day, hoping that today isnt the day that the neighbourhood goes 'POGROM', or confuses their kinsey categories and feel like lynching all non-straights, 'cos the kids just aint safe round here with them about. Or that some boot boy randomly takes issue with how I look, walk or speak - too many camp gestures? too many long words? too many catty jokes? - and pastes me, just for fun.

This mum was saying she won't take it anymore. She didnt want to read another suicide note - thankfully, a redundant one - and now, having chosen sides, she knows that she made a difference.

I bet people don't snigger up their sleeves in her presence, minimising what her son went through. We have a right to a peaceful life free from systematic campaigns.

We want some more happy endings, just like Sharon Underwood and her son got. No more dead gay teenagers.
posted by dash_slot- at 10:43 AM on June 1, 2004

Didn't every 12 year old boy call every other 12 year old boy a fag?

Go work out your collaborationist guilt somewhere else - the chances are that if you weren't the recipient of verbal abuse, you gave it.

dash_slot I don't know if there is a cultural barrier or something here, but name calling and even venomous insults and put downs are commonplace among adolescent American boys. Everyone was both a giver and a taker in that arena. The proper response to being called a "fag" in jr. high was to call the insulter a "pussy". Then you each talk about how the other copulates with his respective mother, and then you go play kickball. Yes, I realize the inconsistency of calling someone both a "queer" and a "motherfucker".

Perhaps British boys don't respond like for like, but in the colonies, you definitely gave as you were given. It was part and parcel of schoolyard survival. *shrug*

Divrsional: I guess I'm just not following the part about being "singled out". During my secondary experience (mid 80's) *everyone* was singled out. The captain of the football team would be called a homo *WHILE* he was making out with the head cheerleader. (That cliche actually did occur at our school. They later married, which I think exists still to this day).

Even good friends would argue over who was the biggest wuss, queer, homo, fag, pussy, etc etc etc. Looking back, the sheer volume of these insults and the inordinate amount of time we all spent calling each other those names is what I regret, not the name calling itself.

I guess the big issue is, if I was called "fag" everyday and turned out to be hetero, I don't see it as being oppressive. But, if I had been called that everyday and then later found out I was gay, then at that point does it become oppressive retroactively?

Put another way, if I called 10 friends "gay" all throughout school, then one of them actually was gay, all that happened was I happened to be accurate because of my scattershot approach. No more, no less.

Its not that he was targeted. Everyone was a target.

Note: I consider this much, much, much different than later in life finding someone who is openly gay and then verbally assaulting them. And of course, physical assault is wrong at any age, in any circumstance.

I'm only SPECIFICALLY talking about schoolyard teasing.
posted by Ynoxas at 11:11 AM on June 1, 2004

Why is it then that "gay" and "fag" are insults?
posted by FormlessOne at 11:22 AM on June 1, 2004

Most gay guys come out between 16 - 18, in my informal study that I just pulled out of the air.

By that time he (this applies in theory to lesbians, I guess) would have endured several years of your gentle teasing, and the same amount of vicious exclusion, verbal avbuse and physical threats, if not actual violence. That is the culture that leads to 1 in 3 gay teens attempting or planning suicide.

But go on, console yourself with the thought that your barbs were blunt, that you didn't really mean it, that you were "accurate because of my scattershot approach. No more, no less."

Some design the prison camps.
Some turn the gas valves.
Some only stand on the sidewalk to jeer the untermenschen as they pass by on their way to the cattle trucks.
posted by dash_slot- at 11:25 AM on June 1, 2004

Hey Ynoxas, maybe for YOU it was normal to give and take, but for many young boys, it's only take. I was called "fag" and worse throughout my school years and never returned the insult. Perhaps that's why I kept being called it, perhaps they picked on me because I was frail or whatever, but please do not assume your experience (or memory of the experience) is the same as everyone else's...and particularly don't make it into a cultural thing.

Everyone may be a target, but that doesn't excuse it. When a 14 year old boy tries to kill himself because he doesn't know why they keep picking on him and because it hurts so much, schoolyard teasing isn't so fun and nice. Some manage it well, some do not. But it's not their fault, as my friends have said, if they "can't take it".

And I think it's sad you regret the amount of name calling and not the name calling. It was fun for you? Were you name calling me perhaps? If so, trust me, it hurt. I am saddened that there are people out there happy that they abused others as a child.

It's never EVER okay to verbally abuse someone...even if it's done "as a joke". I don't find it very funny afterall.
posted by Dantien at 11:32 AM on June 1, 2004

I don't think it's the word, FormlessOne, but the intent. When my father was young, growing up in Canada waaayyyy back, he was called "limey" because he was British. He considered it a compliment; British sailors ate citrus fruit to avoid scurvy, but the namecallers used it as a term to separate a person from the group. Humans are societal creatures, so that hurts all but the most thick-skinned.

And dashslot, doesn't calling someone a jackass in this thread seem a little... ironic? I saw no vitrol in mdn's post; why respond so? I think we're all on the same team here.
posted by dazed_one at 11:38 AM on June 1, 2004

I made it through school existing in the gray area of not being picked on too badly, but not being too popular either, just another US high school kid. I'm about Nelson's age, Ynoxas, while I'm glad that you went to a good high school that didn't single out certain kids for being picked on, I think your experience is far more the exception and not the rule. I can think of three boys with whom I went through the entire course of public school who came out some time after graduation and who were mercilessly fucked with by other kids. And not in a scattershot way at all.

I clearly remember sitting on the swings one day in fourth grade and watching about 95% of the four classes who took recess together chasing one of those three boys across the playground. It was like watching someone being chased by a swarm of bees, or seeing a live, impromtu performance of Lord of the Flies. The point man of the group caught the kid and beat the ever loving shit out of him while the rest of the classes watched. The recess teacher just sat on her bench and watched, too.

There was nothing scattershot about that. That was not a case of this kid getting the same serious beating that everyone else got, too. That was horrible, targeted abuse of one boy because the other kids could tell he was different. He wasn't the only kid to suffer similar torments, but in no way was this kind of foul treatment visited on every kid equally.
posted by jennyb at 11:50 AM on June 1, 2004

"If you want to tout your own morality, you'd best come up with something more substantive than your heterosexuality. You did nothing to earn it; it was given to you."

That was awesome. Thanks for posting this.
posted by fillsthepews at 12:00 PM on June 1, 2004

Thanks ashbury, I was totally moved to tears by this find. I'm sending it to a bunch of friends.
posted by dash_slot- at 12:10 PM on June 1, 2004

Hey, that letter was in my local paper! The Advocate has a short article on Sharon Underwood. Her letter is also featured in Civil Wars: A Battle for Gay Marriage with commentary if anyone is super-interested. She has written some other good letters as well.
posted by jessamyn at 12:24 PM on June 1, 2004

Dash_slot: I just can't seem to come to understand what you're saying. I accept the blame for that. I just don't understand how 2 adolescents going "You're a fag!" "No, YOU'RE a fag!" is the same as your prison camp reference.

Dantein: I understand what you are saying. But I think you misunderstood my position. Maybe it was the sort of group I hung out with. It was multidirectional insulting by every member, towards every member. It wasn't like everyone picked on "Bob" and Bob just sat silently and sobbed. Bob was right in there.

As an example, amongst my friends we will often call each other stupid, moron, dumbass, etc. That is in spite of the fact that most of us have advanced degrees and all of us test above Genius levels on APA approved exams. (Yes, I realize those tests are not perfect or inclusive or perhaps even accurate).

But, yet we still persist in the "schtick". Why? Dunno. But I know its not because we are "targeting" someone in the group and *truly* believe they are stupid.

JennyB: I guess I was lucky. The only fights we had at our schools were voluntary participatory ones, usually held off of school grounds. I can list the number of "sucker punches" I saw in school on one hand, and only once was it someone who was not against the "dominant force" in the pairing. We just didn't have a lot of beating up on the "weak kids". Maybe it happened at church or something instead. *shrug*

Again I apologize if I am somehow missing the thrust of what is being gotten at here. I am only relating my experience, not trying to illuminate the truth of the ages.
posted by Ynoxas at 12:26 PM on June 1, 2004

The point being Ynoxas is that you teased Bob and then hung out with him and treated him like a friend. You didn't call him names, punch him, steal his money, humiliate him in front of others, and spread mean and false rumors around about him.

Your situation was fortunate and lucky. But take it from someone who wanted to die, it's a nightmare. If my friends called me names, I'd hand it back to them. When some kid I don't know did? Well, that was different.
posted by Dantien at 12:58 PM on June 1, 2004

Dash_slot: I just can't seem to come to understand what you're saying. I accept the blame for that. I just don't understand how 2 adolescents going "You're a fag!" "No, YOU'RE a fag!" is the same as your prison camp reference.

That's because you arent reading very carefully. Ping pong insults like you reference are distasteful, but not in the same league as what Sharon Underwood's son - amongst many - suffered. You may not have seen much bullying ok, well, i am actually pleased about that. But that does not iluminate what happened, how you had a 'fun' playground time is irrelevant, thanks very much. You may have been looking the other way, by luck or design, it's ok. You called a mate, or all your mates called each other names. OK. No serious consequences.

dazed one:
where does mdn condemn it? where des he hope for a future free of persecution? was it this - the woman's letter suggests that kids called her son those names because of his mannerisms and gestures?
or this - the boys who tend to get mercilessly called "fag" are the ones who have some of those stereotypically gay traits;
or this - the fact that some percentage of "faggy" boys turn out actually to be queer shouldn't surprise us?
Maybe it was the ironic smiley at the end - :)

And who is us? Is it the straights on Mefi, the metrosexuals of the world, the whole set of readers of this blog, gays included? Of course it didn't surprise 'some of us!' No more than the jock who turned out gay did.

What inanities.

What banalities.

Did you think that was appropriate mdn? A feel good thread totally misdrected. Thank you. Thank you very much.
posted by dash_slot- at 1:09 PM on June 1, 2004

mdn is female, and bisexual, and she's referencing a comedy routine by a fairly well know gay writer and performer, if that helps put her comments into perspective.
posted by jennyb at 1:22 PM on June 1, 2004

Did you think that was appropriate mdn? A feel good thread totally misdrected. Thank you. Thank you very much.

mdn was giving an answer, or part of an answer, to a question that was asked by Nelson not once but twice. "How did they know?" She's a she, and Sedaris is a funny American gay man. Or, what jennyb said.
posted by jessamyn at 1:40 PM on June 1, 2004

I was also called fag, faggot, queer, homo, gayboy, pansy, etc. etc. etc., rather mercilessly by my entire class and dozens of other people in my (very small rural New England) high school, as well as my charming redneck asshole Stepdad #2, because I was small, and skinny, and pretty femmy looking with long hair when I was a kid. It actually started shortly after we moved from urban New Jersey to that tiny little town in the middle of nowhere... because I was very, very different from everyone there, and was a lousy basketball player.

I wasn't gay, I'm not gay, and I knew it very well even then, but when you get that drilled into your head a hundred times a day - and get beaten up a few times a year at school and a few times a month at home - it really just fucks with your head. I'm still shaking bits of it off, and I graduated high school 21 years ago. I never questioned my sexuality, but it sure made me feel like a worthless, hopeless piece of shit. I think I'm lucky I made it out of that hell alive, let alone sort of sane... I certainly didn't make it out healthy, and like I said it still affects me.

And there is definitely a major difference between your FRIENDS - the people you hang out with all the time, be they your fellow football jocks/cheerleaders or your D&D crew - calling you fag, or pussy, or whatever name, and large groups of your NOT FRIENDS AT ALL throwing that shit at you to make their own egos swell - sometimes going very far out of their way to do it, to boot.. What few friends I had, sure we threw that stuff at each other all the time, but it was just friends goofing around. Believe me, you know when it's playin' and when it's serious.

It was very interesting to find out some years after school that one of my worst tormentors turned out to be the gay one. Not a surprise, in hindsight; seeing the shit that got piled on me, he piled it even higher to deflect suspicion (and potential hammering) from himself.

I also remember that in my junior year, this other kid started as a freshman and he was FAR more femmy and "gay-acting" than I was (he wasn't gay either)... and I remember feeling incredible relief when the people who were shitting all over me started shitting all over him instead - and being ashamed of being relieved. Sorry, Troy...

It's a good thing I visited other schools on various band trips and met girls who actually liked me and hadn't heard the whole school calling me a fag since 5th grade, or I might just have killed myself. We had a house full of guns, and I did think about it more than once.

It's fucking horrible to go through, and I wouldn't wish it on anyone. I have nothing but sympathy for anyone, gay or not, who has to deal with shit like that. I guess more so for gay people who simply can't escape it. I'd be a homicidal maniac, or dead already, if the last 21 years had been full of the same shit I got thru middle school and high school.

I can see adolescents doing this stuff, but there's no bloody excuse for adults continuing that sort of foolishness. It's stupid monkey pack animal behavior, veneered over with the trappings of "civilization." Completely unnecessary, and extremely damaging to people who just want to be left alone.
posted by zoogleplex at 2:05 PM on June 1, 2004

dash-slot, I am honestly sorry - in both senses, apologetic and sorrowful - about the way that comment came across. I really did not mean to make light of what you've been through. I just felt that nelson was perhaps a little more mystified than necessary about how kids "knew" - it isn't uncommon that people guess or intuit one another's sexual orientation, and though it's certainly not an exact science, I still think that kids who are teased for being homosexual, whether they actually are or not, tend to be those who exhibit stereotypically homosexual traits, and that we shouldn't be surprised if a higher than average percentage of those kids end up coming out. I don't mean that we can therefore define all gay men according to the degree of stiffness in their wrists, etc, at all. I just meant that kids respond to the universals they use to define a certain type. [At that age what being "gay" means is cloudy - what they use to define it is the various effeminate or theatrical or wimpy or fashionable traits that have been defined as negative and as "gay". Some people who fit enough of these categories to be teased will later turn out to be gay.]

man. I should probably just shut up. I feel like I'm digging myself a deeper hole by trying to explain what I was thinking... all I can say is, I'm sincerely sorry & I feel like shit.

Also, re language, I've lived in NYC my whole life, so have always known gay couples; I'm bisexual; I use words like dyke, fag, queer, maybe a bit too easily - I'm used to it from a "take back the words" type of perspective, but perhaps it's as misguided as patti smith & the n-word...
posted by mdn at 2:24 PM on June 1, 2004

OK, that puts a different shade on it, but to be honest, my main complaint stands. I interpreted mdn's comments - here as being mean and facetious. To me, the joy of Sharon Underwood's revolt, and the tragedy of her son's persecution, were being disrespected. I particularly resented the snide ":)" after the reference to fags. Equally, the explanation of how 'faggy kids' are picked on seemed close to an apology for the bullying.

It is quite possible that I misread the situation - I will await mdn's response.

This I spose illustrates the sensitivity of the topic - and how easy it is to take the wrong meaning from text based comms.

mdn - have I gotten you wrong?
posted by dash_slot- at 2:27 PM on June 1, 2004

dash_slot: I think you should give mdn the benefit of the doubt, based both on her words above and on those she's shared on this site in the past. At least from my POV, her posting history shows her to be very respectful of all members of the GLBT community and people's feelings in general.
posted by clever sheep at 2:47 PM on June 1, 2004

Well, clearly in my family it was sufficiently poncey to be slightly (but actually, not much) studious.

Any how, clearly you did not intend to offend, so maybe I should stop being so sensitive (faggy?)

Back to the post, I hope that this womans efforts continue to spread. She has great courage and eloquence. I'd be proud to have her as a mum! (",)
posted by dash_slot- at 2:50 PM on June 1, 2004

That wasnt very gracious.

What I mean is - I really like your style actually, mdn - magnanimous and thoughtful. Nice to 'cross posts' with ya!
posted by dash_slot- at 3:25 PM on June 1, 2004

Okay, now that that's cleared up....

I've been thinking a lot lately about the pain my own parents felt when I came out 16 years ago. Since I've moved past the "run-away and only speak at tense holiday meals" phase of my young adulthood, I've watched my parents as they raise their other kids and I see how much hope they have for each child; hope that everything will turn out and none of their kids will have to ever feel afraid, lonely, or frustrated by life. I know it's not realistic for a parent to feel that way, but it certainly seems common. This letter reminds me to thank my parents, and my partner's parents, for moving past their own disappointments or fears and fielding so much of the ugly comments and general nastiness for me, and with me.
posted by pomegranate at 6:13 PM on June 1, 2004

How did they know.


Not kidding. Seeing things they feared and despised in themselves manifest in someone else, and attacking that someone else for having those qualities that they hated about themselves.
posted by NortonDC at 8:16 PM on June 1, 2004

thanks, mister slot, for your understanding. I should know better than to play with emoticons... and you're right that this thread was meant to celebrate a brave and eloquent statement, rather than pick at minutiae that contribute to the cruel actions of adolescents, so even accepting my intentions as innocent, I was taking the thread off track. (That, sadly, is rather typical of me.)
posted by mdn at 10:17 PM on June 1, 2004

What I wonder now is - how did they know? I didn't know.

It was probably the mascara.

Seriously, I was one of those kids - zoogleplex's story sounds remarkably similiar to my own. There were a lot of bullies that singled me out as "the gay one," although I was an absolute heterosexual. I in turn singled their girlfriends out as targets, and attempted to sleep with every one of them.

Hey, it helped me make it through a rough period of my youth, okay?
posted by bradth27 at 11:43 PM on June 1, 2004

how did they know? well, how did i know my cousin was gay? i just did - pretty much our whole family knew (or at least suspected) he was gay. by the time he officially came out the only people who didn't know were his mom (in denial) and his older brother (who was sure it was his fault* for calling him "gay" all the time when he was a kid).

don't know exactly what tipped us off. not much comes to mind, except maybe that he was always more comfortable playing quietly with the girls than doing rough-and-tumble play with the boys. but hey, everyone is different, right? can't generally just point at someone and say "see how he does that? that makes him gay / straight / etc." so who knows. probably it comes more from knowing him for long enough to sense that something was different, but as you can see i still can't say what that thing was.

we never picked on him for being gay. (i gave him hell when he decided to attend a rival university, though.)

*funny thing is it might really be his older brother's fault. far as i know the more older brothers you have, the higher your odds of being gay, schizophrenic, and mentally retarded. this is only true for males, and nobody has yet figured out what the rules are for this, just that statistically it holds true in large population studies.
posted by caution live frogs at 4:32 AM on June 2, 2004

This mother, Mrs. Underwood, is extraordinary...she must have been a real pleasure to have as a mom...especially as a gay kid.

When I was pregnant, and sitting around talking to some of the ladies in my neighborhood (most of whom...to be fair...are trophy wife number 2 or 3...so, big on boobs, not so much on the brains), I was laughing about the fact that I had been *so certain* that I was having a girl, that I'd bought a bunch of gender specific baby clothes...and then found out that we were indeed having a boy. And I said that I was going to spend the first 3 or 4 months correcting people's pronouns because of the sheer volume of pink onesies which I now possessed.

To which, one of them replied "Oh, no...you'll just have to give that stuff away, or take it back. You can't put a boy in it." And she was dead serious and quite earnest.

And I said "For goodness sake, why would I do that?" The response was "Well, you don't want to make him gay!"

I was flabbergasted. Really. I stared at this woman with my mouth open for the few minutes it took my brain to percolate how incredibly stupid the comment I'd just heard really was. And the scary part, was the 3 other women who's heads were nodding in agreement like bobbleheads.

I was floored. Absolutely, totally, flummoxed. My response was "Ok, first...you can't *make* someone gay. Second, I don't care if he's gay. Third, you all have boys...what are you going to do if one of them happens to be gay?" The responses made me realize that I have to get out of this godforsaken little burb before any child of mine, gay or not gay, absorbs this stupidity by osmosis. Freaking spooky....people talking about disowning their own kids for something biological. There should be a license to breed...these people are proof.
posted by dejah420 at 9:20 PM on June 2, 2004

I grew up in the difficult South and turned out to be gay
and I pretty much fit every stereotype at some point along the way.

Damn, I was teased pretty much constantly in my uncomfortable uniqueness,
but even then attributed it to kids' talent for exploiting any perceived weakness.

And honestly, if my Mom pulled out a kid picture of me in a pink "onesie" out of the blue,
I'd fucking die.
posted by troybob at 2:23 AM on June 3, 2004

And honestly, if my Mom pulled out a kid picture of me in a pink "onesie" out of the blue, I'd fucking die.

I put it to you that the the couple of times he wore pink...as he was born bigger than most of the clothes...were still better than the amazingly horrific things that the "ladies who lunch" that are my mother's friends gave him. Velvet little lord fauntleroy outfits and Yves St. Lauren jammies with the logos everywhere.

And whereas I don't think we have any pictures of him in pink...there is photographic evidence of the others because we had to take pictures to send with the thank you notes. Someday, I'm sure I'll have to apologize for putting pictures of him in a beret on the internet. It'll probably be the least of the things I'll have to apologize for...as I'm sure I'm going to be one of the weirdest moms of all time.

(The bear suit though...no apologies whatsoever for dressing him up like a big fuzzy blue bear and taking pictures of it. ;)
posted by dejah420 at 7:26 AM on June 3, 2004

For reasons having to do with my preferences for hair,
I wouldn't mind at all kid pics of me as a bear!
posted by troybob at 8:59 AM on June 3, 2004

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