Because he was a boy, we bought Zac toy trucks. But then he stole his sister’s Barbie. He liked changing her shoes and “Decowating Baaabie”.
Wanting to teach the best way of life, we talked to Zac about not taking other people’s possessions. He begged, “Well, then, can I have my own doll?”
He was two years old.
When Zac turned three, because we focused on family, we had a birthday party for him, with his cousins and grandparents in attendance. Someone gave him a cowboy outfit. He looked at me with his big brown eyes, “Mom, what am I supposed to do with this? I thought we weren’t supposed to play with guns.” Then he toddled to our costume box, put on one of my old floral skirts and handed me a ribbon to tie in his hair. Pink.
After a few days of kindergarten, Zac burst in the door and asked, “Mom, can boys marry boys?”
As it is God’s way to accept us as we are, I inquired, “Why do you ask?”
“Well, I was just thinking, if you love Dad and you love me and you love my sister, and we all love each other, and that’s all good, why can’t boys marry boys? There’d be more love in the world.”
He was five.
When he was six, since we have strong community values, we signed Zac up for t-ball. Like the other boys, he spit on his new leather glove. His Dad, with his sound family values, left work early to get to Zac’s games. Zac held up the glove we had oiled and shaped the night before. He meant to catch the ball, I’m sure, but his right hand waved at least five inches from the ball’s trajectory. He cried and threw the glove down. “Mom, I can’t do this. I hate t-ball. But I’ve been practicing ballet in front of my mirror after you put me to bed. Can I have dance lessons?”
In Junior High, sports were mandatory. The jocks, who went to Church on Sunday, smashed Zac against the lockers and screamed, “Homo. Fag.”
He covered his tousled middle-school hair with his Red Sox cap just like the others. He wore plaid flannel shirts just like the others. His voice deepened in those years, just like the others. None of this protected him. These class leaders wrote graffiti on the walls: “Zac is a sissy.”
Theater kept him sane. He landed the role of Curly in the eighth grade musical, Oklahoma. To start the show, he waltzed through the dark, silent auditorium from the back of the room onto the stage. He sang, “Oh, what a beautiful morning,” and the audience hushed. While his classmates had been perfecting their jump shots, Zac had been working to hit high A. It was a crowning moment in his life.
I called a psychiatrist, a deeply religious man, to ask him how I might know, or if there was a way to predict, who might be gay. He said, “The only indicator so far that research shows reliably is that when a boy—from birth– consistently makes non-traditional choices, the chances are greater that he’s gay.”
“And is it painful, this coming out to himself? To others?” I asked this expert. Then, because it’s a mother’s job to care for all her children with a wide-open Christian heart I was raised to cultivate, I added, “What do I do? Is there anything I need to know?”
A spiritual man, he said, “Embrace him. Listen to him. We all have pain. We all suffer. The training is love. Be a Mom. You’re doin’
When Zac turned fourteen, he told me he wanted a sewing machine for Christmas. “Sewing machine?’
“Think gay,” he said.
“How long have you known?”
“So, what do you think about this argument that sexual orientation is a choice?”
“Mom, who would choose this; the persecution, the harassment, the prejudice?”
We have a gay son. He has a distinct masculine identity, dark two-day unshaven scruff. He loves fast cars. He drinks Starbucks. He argues vociferously. He can act bull-headed, and bite like a scorpion. Like the rest of us, he works, plays, sleeps and eats. He calls almost daily and I end each conversation, “I love you, hon.”
He echoes, “Love you, too.”
Some argue that being gay is preventable. Of course it is. We could all stop having children. Zero birth rate would wipe out homosexuality. But why would we want to eradicate the humor, the creativity, the beauty, the flair? Why?
If my son ever loves a man enough to want to be a husband, I’ll take their commitment as one more strand to strengthen the institution of marriage. How could their bond possibility destroy the one I have with his father? I don’t get that. And to answer Zac’s kindergarten question, “Can boys marry boys?”
More love in the world.