When I’ve heard about homosexuality and transgenders in the past, I’ve felt my stomach turn a bit. I’ve thought about my family in the future and have already prayed that my son or daughter doesn’t turn out to be in either category. As long as it doesn’t happen to me, I’ve told myself, I don’t care what anybody else does. It’s not my life. But as we all know, this has become a reality for a lot of parents. And like me, there are many people out there that immediately have a negative reaction or find themselves making a slew of jokes in an effort to counteract how the thoughts of raising a gay, lesbian, or future transgender child might really affect them internally.
I recently received a link to a video from a reader (Starita) to a segment from a tv show out of Seattle called New Day Northwest. This particular episode primarily featured the story of a 5-year old boy named Dyson Kilodavis and his mother-turned-author Cheryl Kilodavis. She wrote a book titled My Princess Boy which became a discussion point for anti-bullying discussions at his school. Dyson is a regular kid, aside from the fact that he’s discovered that he likes to dress in girl clothing and enjoys sparkles and glitter. In the segment, Cheryl talks about how she realized when he was 2 that his interest wasn’t action figures and other typical boy things. She went to pick him up from daycare and he was wearing a red sequined dress.
As a man, I know that I would have been shocked and went home pondering why my son had made such a decision. Cheryl was a bit confused as well and pretty uncomfortable when she set her eyes upon Dyson’s clothing selection. She eventually went and purchased some more traditional boy clothing shortly thereafter with the thought that the school didn’t offer enough options, but when she picked him up on another day from daycare, he was wearing a yellow dress. As you can imagine, this isn’t quite what she expected.
Like many of us would have, Cheryl went to his teachers and the family doctor in search of answers for why and how long Dyson had been leaning toward girl’s clothing and this issue of gender confusion. What made this more interesting was the fact that Dyson’s dad, a black man, was completely supportive of his son’s early decision-making and was more focused on making sure Dyson grew up knowing his parents were behind him as he continued to decide which way he wanted to go with his identity. Dyson’s school shared similar sentiments. He informed his teacher that he wanted to be a princess for Halloween and 3 of the most manly men in the school got dressed up as ballerinas and did a dance in an effort to show him that it was okay for him to be who he was. Even Dyson’s slightly older brother supported Dyson’s affinity for all things fabulous.
As I watched, I couldn’t help but wonder how authentic Dyson’s father was in his support of his son. I found myself looking at the computer screen and wondering “Are you serious? You’re not even gonna try to guide your son toward masculinity while you still have the chance to impact his decisions and overall life going forward?” I then found myself thinking about my views on homosexuality and how they’ve changed over the last couple years. I recalled a post I co-authored on homosexuality and the black community and how I uncomfortably danced around the topic in an effort to draw traffic without really getting into the issue. It wasn’t too long after this that a friend sent me a link to an article from a story a few years ago that appeared on Oprah involving another family with a son that found himself more intrigued and enamored with glamor and sparkly things.
This particular father, Derek, wasn’t as supportive of his son Dylan (Not the one you’re probably thinking), who made it clear at age 4 that he wanted to be a girl. Dylan’s father had reprimanded his son on several occasions, similar to what I may have done in the past if it were me, in an effort to try and curb the behavior. His mother, on the other hand, took the supportive route. She even went as far as buying Dylan a series of dolls and painting his nails in an effort to show that the way he was feeling about his gender identity was more than okay. This episode also went on to feature a girl, with significantly more supportive parents, that wanted to transition to a male. The author of the article, the white president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, described Oprah’s support of new gender expression as moral insanity for supporting something that isn’t normal. I only mention the race of the author and his view briefly to show that this isn’t just about black people. However, I don’t think his sentiment is far off from what we see in many of the black churches across the country and across the world. Homosexuality and gender association continues to be a simultaneously debated and gagged topic in the black community.
If we look at how black folks voted back in 2008 on Proposition 8 in California on gay marriage, it’s obvious how many of us feel when it comes to homosexuality of others. We can also look at the recent Vibe article on the Mean Girls of Morehouse and the firestorm that created across the internet—most of which calling the author, Aliya S. King, a multitude of names inquiring as to why she didn’t paint a happier picture of one of the most prestigious black universities in the United States. Most of the people commenting on the story, including myself, don’t and won’t know what it’s like to raise a child that doesn’t want to live as what his birth certificate acknowledged him or her to be. And that, in and of itself, is a major issue. What happens if it happens to us?
I’ve got my own thoughts on this and some of the other topics buried within the stories that I mentioned that I plan to discuss tomorrow on my blog in the conclusion of this 2 part series. But for today, I want to know what are your thoughts? Would you seriously support your child if he or she started showing signs of wanting to swap sexes? In other words, would you condone such behavior at a young age or would you try to resolve your child’s confusion? Do you think that this is something that can even be altered? Let me know your thoughts and look out for part 2, where I’ll adress some additional issues tomorrow on Three Ways to Take It.
Opening a Can of Worms for the Betterment of the World,