There is a post zooming around the liberal side of the internet, in which a mom says her son is gay . . . no, he’s not . . . yes, he is . . . who really cares? The genesis for this post was the fact that her 5 year old son wanted to be one of the girl characters in Scooby Doo. She let him, and some women at the preschool got upset that she’d let him dress up as a girl. The blogging mom gets the ultimate point right, which is why in the heck are people getting fussed about what a 5 year old wears for Halloween?
Where the post irritates me, and it’s not the blogging mom’s fault at all, because her bottom line is correct, is the title — “My son is gay” — and this paragraph:
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.
Here’s where the post gets me: Why are we talking about the whole gay thing when the subject of our talk is a 5 year old? I mean, I agree that if my teen or adult child is gay (or lesbian), I will love and support that child regardless. And I totally agree with the mom (who sounds smart and loving) that cross-dressing 5 year olds, unless they live in a fetish household and are forced to cross dress 24/7, are not at risk of turning into homosexuals. What I don’t agree with is trying to categorize little kids as gay or straight.
I admit that this is a bee in my bonnet. Over the course of my medium long life, I’ve known totally “masculine” boys who grew up to become gay, totally “masculine” boys who grew up to become straight, totally “feminine” girls who were ultimately lesbians, and totally “feminine” girls who were straight. The same holds true for “feminine” boys and “masculine” girls. People’s sexuality may be innate, but their childhood behavior, unless it’s totally outside any known norms, is, at best, a most inaccurate indicator of the path they’ll choose in life. And yet I’ve known people to say of their 3 or 4 year old children, “Well, I think he/she is gay/lesbian.” They may be right, but why are they thinking of such a little child in sexual terms?
Clearly, I’m getting to a larger issue here, which is the way we sexualize children in our culture. Recall the recent hoo-ha about the seven year old set doing a raunchy dance in stripper clothes. Certainly every Halloween, somewhere there is an article righteously upset about the hooker costumes offered to the small fry.
Also, think about what “growing up” means nowadays. Miley Cyrus came to fame as the “clean” pop star whom parents could allow their little girls to watch. Now she’s grown up (she’s 17) and gone sleazy. In the old days, “growing up” meant becoming sophisticated or, perhaps, responsible. Someone who sang little girl songs might have moved to jazz. Now “growing up” means that kids — at least, famous kids — move to nakedness and public sex.
Anyway, I’m kind of running out of steam and time here. I agree with the mom whose post is linking that we should love and support our children no matter what path they chose (as long as they live an honorable life, of course), but I just hate the whole notion of a culture that sees us even thinking of 5 year olds in terms of their ultimate sexual choices.