We are heading to our local farmer’s market for the first time this year. After telling them we’re leaving 3,000 times, my broody bunch of preteens and teens are slowly appearing at the door. As my oldest son turns his head, glitter on his cheek catches the light. Inside my stomach flips, I’m proud of him and nervous for him all at once.
This June is our most meaningful Pride month yet. As my son struggles with who he is and who he may love some day we support him the best we can. My husband and I have found ourselves trying to out-Pride our Pride of years past while also trying to play it completely cool because these teens pick up on every single shift in the household air.
Our son is a pretty private guy so we’re never sure whether we should be waving our rainbow flag in his presence or trying to act like there’s nothing to see here. My husband and I are learning there’s a fine balance between showing our support and calling attention to something our child isn’t ready to discuss with the world.
At nearly 14, he’s not up for talking about feelings much but the conversations we do squeak out of him confirm he may like men and women. He may love one or the other or both some day. We don’t push him for definite answers. None of us knew anything definitively at 13. The only thing we push is our complete unwavering love for him no matter what his sexual preferences may be.
Before we ever thought our son might be gay or bisexual I was in the camp of people who feel our LGBTQ friends and family should not have to “come out.” Straight people do not have to announce their sexuality so no one else should have to either. Never one to shy away from the topic, I’ve told my children this as well. I still feel this way, of course, but wouldn’t mind if my son would share a little of what’s swirling around in his head so I can better support him. He doesn’t have to announce it to the world but a little hint to his mom would be so appreciated.
So as my son turned his head and I caught a glimpse of his perfect makeup job, the bronzer he probably borrowed from my makeup bag, dusted on his cheek bones, I smiled inside. The private decision he made to be who he is at home out in public, giving me a hint of his current comfort level.
When he decided to abandon his hoodie at the car and walk around our community with his rainbow shirt front and center, my heart near exploded. As allies, it’s easy for us to wear rainbows and hang our Pride flags but as young kids, struggling with who they are and how the world will see them, public pronouncements aren’t quite that carefree.
Seeing his shirt choice for the first time, I side-hugged my son a little, not too much that I’d be accused of “making a big deal out of things” but just enough for him to know I’ve got him. He’s working hard to find pride in who he is and a comfort level with showing it. As his parents we’re working hard to be right here every day, showing him how proud we are of the person he’s becoming. Our pride in him shining bright long past the month of June.