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6.06.2011

The cat is out of the closet

In an otherwise slow week, something substantial happened. But before I spill the bean, let me back up a few feet so you can see the big picture.

I've said many times that Kit is different - his own individual. The detail that I've left out is how he is different. Ever since he was a toddler, he's always acted as though he wants to be a girl from choosing girls clothes, girl style toys, girl attitudes, girls for friends, and so forth. While cross gender for children isn't that unusual, he's never wavered from it his whole life. In fact, it is so strong that we knew once puberty hit he would have adult sexual identity issues to deal with. While no one in the family has a problem with this - and I'm speaking for his mother's sides of the family, too - we all are fiercely aware of the difficulties he faces with other kids, friends, and less than understanding adults.

Through the years he and I have made dollhouses, played with his vast Barbie collection, and made videos of him dressed in wigs and skirts. We've bought pounds of gaudy jewelry and gone on Google hunts to look at fashion designs and Lady Gaga outfits. This past year he's grown out of dolls and dressing moved on to girl teen magazines and articles like, "who will be your dream date" and "how to tell if Justin Beiber is right for you" right down reading the latest fashion tips and hanging pictures of boys in his room.

We've tried to prepare him by letting him know that there's nothing wrong with being different but others may treat him badly because of it. He's taken serious hits for it, too, through his first 5 years of school, being called weird and gay and a host of worse things. But he's undaunted and unabashed. While it bothers him that some kids don't accept him, he is unwilling to change for them. He isn't bothered by their lifestyles, so why should they be bothered by his?

Jump ahead to this week. All on his own he "came out" to his friends at school and told them he is gay. He asked a friend if she would tell a boy that he liked him and wanted to "go out with him". She did - and the other boy panicked. Kit ended up in the counselling office while they tried to figure out how to handle it. The counsellor wasn't upset that Kit might be gay, she was concerned that it might be inappropriate to tell another 10 year old boy that he's the object of a boy's affections.

Kit saw nothing wrong with it and when we talked about it later, I could easily see his side. Boys and girls his age are always 'dating'. Tio has had so-called girlfriends on and off for years. All it signifies is that they text and talk and act like special friends until they break up a week later and 'date' someone else. So, reasoned Kit, why couldn't he do the same thing? He believes he has special feelings for this boy and wants to express them the same as anybody else does. I can't argue with that except that, whether or not he really is gay, I think anyone his age is too young to date.

I could go on for pages about this, the implications, the past, the ways society now accepts this, yet still has problems , etc., etc.. But the bottom line is that Kit has decided to take an incredibly bold step in his life and caught us a bit off guard. He told his dad about it, unusual for him to confide in Buddy, which tells us that he is probably more sure of himself than we knew and we have some catching up to do. Personally, I was kind of hoping this wouldn't happen for a couple more years but here we are.

In the intervening days since this, I had been wondering about the feelings of the other boy and how Kit needs to be careful of that. But I'm not so sure. Of course you want to take other's feelings into account, but even in a heterosexual situation, a boy asks a girl out without knowing how she feels. If she rejects or backs off then the boy must respect that. But how do you find out until you ask? I guess if Kit is okay with asking, the other boy will have to respond. Welcome to the new post "Don't Ask Don't Tell" world. Young people will have to learn that homosexual behavior is becoming part of normal social interactions and that if a gay boy asks you out, you can turn him down without it being a reflection on your own sexuality.

That being said, we are WAY, WAY too far ahead of that with kids Kit's age. Whether he turns out to be gay or not, he's not even in middle school yet and needs to take a couple more years to really learn what's going on inside him. I'm just glad summer starts in two weeks. It will give us a breather while I do some serious research on how to help him navigate this without retribution in the coming school year. While Kit has been living this all his life, and we've been living with it, what comes next is new for all of us.