A Little Sexual Re-Orientation

****** WARNING: I’m going to use some bad language here. Seriously. Sometimes you just have to. But that means this blog is not appropriate for anyone under the age of 15, so YA fans–click on the EPIC FAIL or TROUBLE WITH FLIRTING link and settle over there. Thanks. *********

I’ve been thinking. Not particularly clearly because we have a new kitten in the house and she’s kind of ruined my sleep the last couple of nights. (See photo)

The new kitten. Smaller than a 12-year-old’s shoe.

But still . . .

I had two conversations this weekend about having a gay relative. Both times, the people I was talking to said something similar, something along the lines of, “I’m fine with it, of course. But I worry because being gay can make life so much harder.”

I’ve thought and thought about this and–with all due respect to the very kind and loving people I had those conversations with–I’ve decided that they shouldn’t say that. No one should. And here’s why:

I have a gay son. Whom I adore, blah blah blah. Give me a medal: I actually like this kid I gave birth to who’s smart and funny and talks to his mother. Yay me.

And, yeah, I get scared. When I read stories about gay people who are brutalized in some way, I want to throw up. And scream. And kill the people who did it.

And don’t get me started on politicians who attack their own constituents–people who are loyal, tax-paying, peaceful Americans–because of their sexual orientation. That kind of candidate shouldn’t be allowed to make laws in this country. Period.

But even though that kind of thing disturbs and upsets me, I’m not ever going to say that I’m sorry my son is gay or that I’m worried because he’s gay.

Here’s what I will say: I’m sorry there are assholes in this world who hate good people. I’m sorry there are assholes who will judge you because they’re ignorant and small-minded and have been brought up by people who are equally ignorant and small-minded. I’m sorry there are assholes who cloak intolerance and xenophobia in religious language and pretend that their despicable behavior is somehow moral. I am beyond sorry–I’m devastated and terrified–that some people are so backwards and stupid and bigoted that they might take a swing or a shot at you just because you’re gay.

But I’m not worried or scared or devastated because of who you are. Who you are is perfect. I’m thrilled with who you are. I wouldn’t change a thing.

Maybe it’s just semantics–but the way we phrase things has a lot of power over the way we think about them. So if you love someone who’s gay and you feel anxious, don’t say, “I’m worried because you’re gay.” Say, “I’m worried because there are small-minded assholes in the world.” Because no one wants to worry his mom or his dad or his grandparents or his cousins. Why put that burden on your wonderful gay relative? Put it on the people who deserve it.

Put the burden of your anxiety on the assholes.



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20 responses to “A Little Sexual Re-Orientation

  1. Anonymous

    “Put the burden of your anxiety on the assholes.”
    Truer words never spoken. Thanks Claire.

  2. Claire

    Aw, thanks, Grace! They can put that on my gravestone.

  3. Anonymous

    You are absolutely right. The concern is that:

    “Whether the stone hits the pitcher
    or the pitcher hits the stone
    it’s going to be bad for the pitcher”


  4. Claire

    No, it’s not the same, because–to continue the metaphor–the pitcher would never hit the stone. There’s only one direction that this goes. Therefore the stone should be blamed and contained to whatever extent possible, while the pitcher should not be criticized for the fact its hollowness makes it fragile. We need pitchers to be pitchers–and we need to try to keep the stones away from them.

  5. Claudia

    I think one of the things that troubles me is when someone who is religious — and of course I am not talking about all religions but only those who oppose gay clergy — and says, “Love the sinner. Hate the sin.” And I think of all the things in The Bible that people do not follow. From the way the Bible accepts slavery to the price of selling a daughter into slavery to the types of animal sacrifices to be performed.

    Why is it those parts of the Bible are ignored? And why are a couple of lines about not lying with a man as if he’s a woman turned into being opposed to equal rights for people who are gay? I don’t think anyone can lie with a man as if he is a woman, so we’re all SAFE there.

    I try to tell myself to be tolerant of people whose faith leads them to feel certain ways. But to me the golden rule should truly rule for people: To truly treat others as you wish to be treated. To accept others as you wish to be accepted.

    Great post, Claire. An important post.

  6. Claire

    Thanks so much, Claudia. I couldn’t agree with you more. I have many wonderful friends who are people of faith, and I think they would all say that their religion encourages them to be more accepting and loving and tolerant, not less, and that those who spout hatred in the name of their religion are misguided–to put it mildly.

  7. Steffany happ

    This is a great post, it brought tears to my eyes. You seem like a wonderful mother and your son is very lucky to have you. People who are “anti gay” are the same as people who are racist in my book. Ignorance breeds more ignorance.
    Stef Happ

  8. Claire…you ROCK MY WORLD!
    I will be posting this -for me this represents a 21st century parent’s way of thinking. Unfortunately, we have lots of folks who have idealized the 20th century and all its outdated mores and include too many …”small-minded assholes…”
    Let’s hope we don’t revert to 20th century practices come Nov. 6th….

  9. Claire

    Thank you both so much!

  10. Would it be ok with you if I put a link to this on the GSA facebook page?

  11. Claire

    I would LOVE that, Paula! Thanks!

  12. Jane

    What a wonderful mother you are. You’re lucky to have each other 🙂

  13. Amy

    I have a 12 year old son who is ADHD and Bi-polar. He wanted these bright pink Nike shoes for school…yes, they were listed as boys shoes. I told him he could get whatever shoes he wanted but to think about something important: kids picked on him like crazy in 5th grade because he is “little and weird”. I told him kids weren’t any nicer in 6th grade. He looked at me and said “Shouldn’t it be about what I am like on the inside and not what color my shoes are?” I kind of got all choked up and told him he was right but not everyone was taught that at home. Since we have 6 kids, I told him that the shoes were his decision but if we got them we couldn’t afford to replace them right away if he decided not to wear them. He thought about it for awhile and then decided on a gray pair with neon green trim. He told me that even though he loved the pink shoes, the teasing would probably bother him after awhile and said he would rather avoid it. I don’t know if my son is gay. I think he is too young to tell. He loves pink and purple and is very creative. Does that make him gay? No. But if he is, shame on the a**holes who don’t get to know and love him for who he is. I have been asked if I think he is gay. Then people ask if I am concerned and what a shame for him. Really?? He is a sweet, loving kid who struggles with his disabilities everyday but still finds time to help others and be a good big brother. I am so proud of who he is. Thank YOU for being one of the few parents who understands that being GAY is not a disability. Its part of who you are and everyone who is should be allowed to embrace it, without prejudice. Period. IMHO, being ignorant is way worse.

  14. Lady, so well spoken, indeed. Completely sharing this, and thank you for writing it.

  15. Claire

    I’m so touched by these responses and so grateful. Thank you all for writing. Amy, you sound like a phenomenal mom. Wish I could give you and your son a big hug.

  16. Scott

    Claire, this is a magnificent piece! I believe that gay and lesbian individuals as well as people on the autism spectrum should be entitled to the same civil rights as other Americans. I get so furious when religious zealots and narrow minded politicians try to take away marriage rights from hardworking Lgbt citizens by the using the Bible as an excuse. I don’t buy the “Love the sinner hate sin” mantra that bigots use to justify their anti gay agenda. I do not want my rights nor my uncle’s gay brother’s rights taken away completely.

  17. Claire

    thanks, Scott! I’m with you all the way.

  18. You’re on to something here,Claire-your thinking is 21st century and reflects the new breed of parents out here – PROUD. very cool—

  19. Deb Z.

    This piece is spot on. It’s not just semantics. There is a message behind the words. I hope your son comes of age in a more tolerant and accepting culture. Wouldn’t the world be a boring place if we were all alike?

  20. Pingback: Semantics | QueerWes

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