Once upon a time I liked girls. I held hands with them, kissed them and even pretended to be entertained by their breasts. To all of those girls, I apologize. I had no idea what I was doing. I was just following orders…like Eichmann. Or George W. Bush.
I was playing a part and, much like my attempts at maintaining a credible British accent while on stage, I was not very convincing. But still I tried. And tried. And tried. And tried …until one day I stopped trying and then I liked boys. In the end it was all rather simple: I stopped pretending to be the person I was supposed to be and I started being the person I was. It wasn’t a mystery and if it was, it was one of the PBS Miss Marple mysteries where in a cast of nuns and orphans the killer is the guy with the hideous scar across his face who collects knives and says things like, “I’ll kill all you nuns and orphans. Every last one of you.”
For me, the only mystery was sex. My parents did their due diligence and talked to me about sex. I believe I was 11 or 12 when my Dad gave me the talk. We were cleaning out the fish tank and, in my dramatic recollection of events, I was so horrified that I put scalding hot water in the tank and killed several fish. After flushing the dead fish down the toilet, my Dad schooled me on the mechanics of sex and for good measure recited that tired line about “being in love and waiting until marriage” to have sex.
It was a pretty standard man-woman/penis-vagina narrative. Probably much like the one your parents gave you and the one you, in turn, passed on to your kids. But it won’t be the one I pass on to my son. Because that is not the world we live in. We aren’t a man-woman/penis-vagina kinda household. Although ultimately that is irrelevant because, case in point, not all man-woman/penis-vagina households produce man-woman/penis-vagina lovin’ kids.
My son should hear a narrative that includes his family dynamic, but more importantly, my son should know that — in a world where every love story is between a man and a woman, where every kissing couple pictured on the jumbotron at the baseball game is heterosexual, where adults routinely ask an eight year old boy if he has a little girlfriend — he has options. He doesn’t have to follow orders or act out a part in a play he never auditioned for. He can be who he is.