A real time Mom’s eye view into raising a gender nonconforming child
September 23rd, 2013
Childhood gender non-conformity has long been known to be one of the most associated predictors of adult non-traditional sexuality. Many of our LGBT readers will recall play, fantasy, and behavior that seemed to separate them from other children of their own sex and we have all experienced children who elicit that inner “un-huh” which tells us that when the child was older they will find their way to our community.
I don’t recall being extremely effeminate as a child. I was a cry-baby and not good at sports, but I don’t recall adopting many mannerisms or likes and dislikes associated more with girls. I remember playing with cars and building tree forts and riding bikes and going to football games with my Dad and lots and lots and lots of reading.
But that, of course, is the way that my memories and recollections are stored, which may have very little to do with reality. And irrespective of effeminacy, I am certain that I was not a typical or easy kid.
I wonder what was it like to be the parent of a boy who didn’t fit the mold of his football and wrestling champ brothers and who would far rather read than try out for little league (or, at least, not after the first disastrous year). How early did they know that their faith position on the issue of homosexuality would be challenged so closely in the family? Is that why my father preached every other sin from the pulpit, but never got much fired up about this one?
How did my brothers feel? Were they embarrassed about a kid brother who would cry when in conflict rather than fight? Did their own religious convictions build walls between us – even more than was natural for a severely dysfunctional family? Did they wonder why I acted the way I did or why I made the choices I made, in a time when most people thought in terms of ‘homosexual acts’ and a ‘chosen lifestyle’?
My family dynamic is one such that I’ll never know the answer to these questions. And, really, the mists of time would shroud the truth even if the subject is ever broached. The best that I could hope for is some foggy image based on the memories that each of us have chosen to keep.
Which is one of the things that I find so refreshing, so joyful, so liberating, and so revealing about Lori Duron’s book, Raising My Rainbow. I may never know what my parents thought, but Lori gives us a front seat view into the thoughts of her and her husband Matt – right now – as they raise CJ, a little boy who much prefers ‘girl things’.
A little more than two years ago I introduced you to the website of the same name. Lori was new to blogging (and still anonymous) and was telling her thoughts and concerns as we all shared in her experience of raising her son who had developed a love of Barbie Dolls. And the color pink. And toys from the ‘girl aisle’.
If you stayed with Raising My Rainbow site, you have had a place on the rollercoaster that is her life. It’s had some rough patches and there have been times when I doubted the wisdom of some of her decisions. But it has been, throughout, a lesson in honesty, love and acceptance. And these are the themes of her book.
Because I read the site, most of the stories in the book are familiar – though now flushed out in greater detail and with names instead of pseudonyms. And though, as one of her website readers, there were few surprises for me in her book, at no point did the story feel stale or repetitive.
Lori doesn’t try to impart a Very Important Message to her readers. She isn’t telling us how children Should Be Raised or quoting a host of facts, figures or statistics. She not teaching or preaching or lecturing to her readers; she’s just telling her story of her family in her words.
And that makes the book delightful. You can just flow with the rapidly paced story, you needn’t stop to think. But, if you are like me, you most definitely will think – long after you have finished the book and passed it on to a friend. You may even come to see your family though new eyes.
If you ever were perhaps a bit not all-boy or maybe not the girliest girl in town, then I think that you will enjoy and benefit from reading Raising My Rainbow (which you can pick up here in pretty much any format)
I have only one warning, don’t start reading unless you have a chunk of free time; it’s very hard to put down.