I know the fight for inclusion all too well. My life is devoted to the fight for inclusion. I must be my son’s voice and ensure there is inclusion in the school system for him because he has autism, and ADHD and school must be inclusive of children of all abilities.
But that isn’t what I’m talking about for a change. Today I am talking about homophobia and the fight for inclusion for the LGBT community.
My Six Year Old Was Called Gay
Let that sink in. He is six.
He went on a weekend trip with an unnamed family member to visit an amusement park. The night before he excitedly asked me to paint his fingernails blue, to match his bathing suit. I often paint his nails as a reward for an exceptional outing or a good school day, but this was the first time we used the new blue nail polish.
He sat at the table admiring his hands. He said over and over how everyone would think they were so pretty.
The next morning the family member arrived to pick him up. He walked in and the first thing he said was “Why are your nails blue?” and my son stared at him. I said, “To match his bathing suit.”
The response given to my little boy was “You can’t wear that, everyone will think you are gay. You’ll get made fun of, only girls paint their nails”. He almost didn’t want to go on the trip anymore. He buried his face in the couch, something he often does when he’s beginning to feel dysregulated.
I grew anxious that he was going to have a meltdown but I reassured him that his nails were awesome and that anyone could wear nail polish. I was attempting to be diplomatic and avoid confrontation in front of him which would only aggravate the situation.
And Then He Was Called an Embarrassment
Moving ahead to when he returned home last night.
He came in the door late and ran to hug me. We snuggled up on the couch and I noticed he had no nail polish on at all. I said “Where’s your nail polish?” and my son told me “I had to take it off or I wasn’t allowed to go”.
I looked over to his relative who was standing at the top of my stairs, peering into my living room. I said “You made him remove his nail polish? Why?” and his answer was “Because it’s an embarrassment to be seen with him like that.”
That, folks, is homophobia at its finest. He is SIX. He just wanted pretty colors on his nails.
Does it mean he is gay? No, and if it did, I wouldn’t care because he is my son and I love him and sexual orientation has no effect on my opinion of any human let alone my own child.
I am appalled at how he was treated and made fun of, and now I am trying to repair the damage. I offered to repaint his nails last night and he was hesitant at first, worried he would be in trouble for having them done. But then he picked some colors and I painted them pink and blue.
How can anyone be so homophobic that they’re embarrassed to be seen in public with a child?
Stand Up Against Homophobia
My only hope is that my son sees there is more love in the world than there is hate.
But I am still here thinking to myself why should my little boy ever need to feel as though who he is isn’t good enough for someone, especially family. He should be feeling that he will be accepted and loved for who he is no matter what, whatever that may be.
We will never be able to stop fighting for inclusion. For all people.
For individuals with special needs.
For the LGTB community.
For individuals with medical conditions.
For refugees, migrants, and immigrants
For racial and religious minorities.
But we need to fight. I will not stand down in the face of prejudice or hate. Because my kids deserve to grow up in a world where they don’t need to hide who they truly are.