By Frank Lowe
Originally published on Advocate.com February 11 2014 5:59 PM ET
As every LGBT person knows, coming out of the closet isn’t some grand global event that happens once in your life. It’s not as though when you do it, an email circulates to the entire world and everyone instantly knows. Instead, it’s the beginning of a lifetime of coming out. You meet new people, get new jobs, move, etc. It doesn’t mean you have to introduce yourself in every situation as gay — “Hi, I’m Frank, nice to meet you; also, I suck dick.” But inevitably some situations will call for you to claim your gayness. Having a child is almost like hanging a big sign on you that says “YES, CLEARLY WE ARE GAY BECAUSE WE ARE TWO MEN/TWO WOMEN WITH A CHILD.” Because we’re parents, every time my spouse and I go into a restaurant, store, theme park (kill me) it’s pretty obvious to everyone around that YES, WE ARE A GAY COUPLE. Fortunately, we don’t give a shit. Fortunately, we think we’re perfect just the way we are. Unfortunately, not everyone agrees.
We have no problem acknowledging our sexuality when it comes up. However, with our 4-year-old, it has started to come up among his friends. They are keen to observe that things are different in our family, and like all 4-year-olds, they’re full of questions. Recently, our son’s “girlfriend” was over for a play date and we were eating lunch. She asked me, in reference to my spouse, “Does he live here too?” I responded with “Of course he does!” She gave me a very unimpressed “Oh.” Then I could see her cute little brain spinning and she said “So Briggs has two daddies,” and I gave my automatic reply, “Yes he does. Some people do.” And that was the end of that conversation. “Some people do” is my favorite thing to tell kids. It’s simple, it’s concise, and best of all, they buy it.
When your child is 4, there’s no reason to get into what being gay means. We openly use the word, because after all, it’s not a bad one. He has yet to ask us about it; to him it’s just the norm. One day, however, he is going to come to us and have a ton of questions. To be honest, I’m more terrified of that than I was of coming out to my parents. Coming out to our son will be tricky, because as in any close family, it means he will be identified with the word “gay,” regardless of his sexuality. Not all the kids he will encounter will be nice about it. We will arm him with a thick skin and a sharp tongue, but that’s about all we can do. I have given it some thought, and the approach will probably be “Son, most boys grow up and like girls, but some boys grow up and they like boys.” I want it to be descriptive but not overly descriptive. If he asks sexual questions, I will just throw on Brokeback Mountain and let him figure it out for himself. No matter what happens, nothing will prepare me for that moment, and I have to show him that I am proud of who I am and that there is nothing wrong with being gay. After I’m done with that, I’ll explain that because he has two dads, he has also always had the best hair, to which I expect a “thank you.”
What is or will be your approach to coming out to your kids? Leave answers in the comments section below.