Updated: Oct 17, 2021
I am a mom to 4 beautiful boys living in the stunning mountains of the Wasatch front in Utah. Like most parents I had lots of expectations for how my family experience would go. Of course, I would have perfect children who would never cause me a moment’s worry!! Nothing could have prepared me for the way things would actually turn out.
When my third son Zach, was still really young I sensed something was different about him. He didn’t seem interested in the things his brothers liked. He gravitated towards traditionally girl things- he liked the color pink, Barbies, anything that sparkled and loved to dress up with his friends (who just happened to be all girls). I will be honest, all this made me afraid for my son. I was worried about what this would mean for him. Was he gay? Transgender? This was in the early 2000’s, so there wasn’t a whole lot of information about those topics for parents out there then. If Zach WERE gay or trans….what would this mean for him and our whole family?
I was understandably concerned about my son’s safety and his future. I was desperate for answers and asked for a meeting with my pediatrician to discuss my fears and questions. That meeting changed our lives and set my family on a path we would never have predicted. She reassured me that there was nothing wrong with Zach. She compared it to being left handed. Every day I’m so grateful for the advice she gave me. I often think that this information potentially saved my son’s life. Zach’s doctor helped me find insightful and encouraging resources for my “Pink Boy”. She led to me a therapist who told us that Zach was completely normal! This therapist let us know that while Zach wouldn’t be changing…WE would have to be the ones to change, learning to love and support him just as he was.
We found a parent support group and learned from those other wonderful parents how to be brave and fully embrace our son. We attended Camp I Am- where I watched my son shine in a fashion show! I went from feelings of distress, worry and fear to being so incredibly proud of my son and the courage he possessed to be himself in the face of all societal norms. I bought him Hello Kitty backpacks and walked him to school on the watch for anyone who would dare say anything negative to my boy. I found the Family Acceptance Project and learned how incredibly important and often life-saving family acceptance is to our LGBTQ children.
My son is 20 now- a healthy, happy gay boy in his junior year at college. He has been able to do all the normal things most kids experience – go to Prom, go on dates, fall in love- with a boy! He has experienced things beyond my wildest dreams for him. ALL of the crazy things that I worried about for him either didn’t happen or we handled them when they came. I waited and waited for the other shoe to drop- but it didn’t, and these days I feel like I can truly and finally breathe.
I have been genuinely surprised at the love and support that our family has received through all of this, sometimes from people we wouldn’t have expected. Now I get to help new moms navigate their children coming out. I tell them that it’s all going to be okay. BELIEVE good things are going to happen for your child. I advise them to take time for themselves and move through all the varied emotions that are associated with this. I help connect them with really good support groups like Mama Dragons where they can process and learn how to fully support and love their child. Mostly I look forward to a day when kids don’t have to come out but instead just get to be who they are, fully loved and supported by all.