Daddy, What Does 'Gay' Mean?
Our son just turned five, and like magic his brain matured tremendously. We can actually have in-depth conversations about things, and he has some shockingly accurate insights into life itself. He is attending day camp this summer because he’s one of those kids who has to stay busy all day long. He absolutely loves it. Because the camp schedule is different than regular school, my spouse and I have a new arrangement where he drops him off in the morning and I pick him up. As convenient as it is for us, it also outs us as gay dads to all the keen little 5-year-olds who witness this. One day recently, I picked him up and within seconds, he point blank asked me “Daddy, what is ‘gay?’”
As soon as his question was posed, I slightly lowered the volume to my Nicki Minaj song and decided to dig a little deeper first.
“Buddy, where did you hear that word?” I asked. “One of the kids at camp said that you and O’Daddy are gay,” he replied.
“Did he/she say it in a mean way, or were they being nice?” I pressed.
“Oh, she was being nice. She just said I have two gay daddies.” He said.
I breathed a mental sigh of relief. I was not ready to get into the whole talk about how “gay” isn’t a bad word, and thankfully to this random little girl, I had a perfect segue into explaining what it means.
“Well dude, she’s right! Your O’Daddy and I are gay. That is just what it’s called when two guys or two girls are together.” I said.
“Like when I play with my friends am I gay too?”
“No, that’s different. You’re not in love with your friends, right?” I asked.
“No,” he replied.
“Okay, then you’re just friends.” I said. And that was that.
I made a conscious decision not to delve deeper into sexuality because he’s five, and he doesn’t need to know about labels yet. He didn’t ask what a hetero couple is called, so I didn’t go there either. I gave him just enough information to know what it means if he hears his “daddies are gay.” We tend to take a nonchalant approach to parenting in general, so this was keeping with that philosophy. Since then, it has come up just generally in conversation at the dinner table between my spouse and I (I had no idea how much we actually say “gay” until this whole thing happened)!
And our son repeated it out loud like, “Gay. Oh, you guys are gay!” So he clearly gets the point. At a certain point we will have the talk with him to explain that some people don’t like gay people, but maybe we’ll wait until we’re in Disney World so if he gets upset we’ll just throw him down a water slide.