Out of the Closet

“Out of the human mouth and into the heart” –Maya Angelou

I can’t imagine what it must be like for kids who want so badly to share their “secret” with the world – their world. How awful for them to move through the day as if their feet are pushing through fresh tar on a blistering hot summer day.

When my kids were little we read a particular book (over and over and over) in which the main character (a chipmunk, I think), tries everyday to get special words out of his mouth. Everyday he tries to tell his parents how much he loves them. He just can’t seem to find the right moment to say, “I love you.” The timing never seems quite right until one day, he feels as if he’ll burst if he doesn’t just say it. Of course, once he shares his feelings, he feels so much better and for that moment, all is right with the world.

So, imagine, a young child, an awkward adolescent, an insecure teen trying to find just the right words, just the right opening in the conversation to tell those closest to him that he has a secret.

We are fortunate. Our kids feel that they can tell us stuff. Would it be easier if Hunter’s secret was about sexual orientation rather than gender identity? YES. There is no question that coming out as gay or lesbian is a lot less complicated than a desire to be a different gender.

This is going to sound really random but here goes — I was listening to Oprah radio on Sirius the other day and Maya Angelou was on. Something she said struck me as so profound I had to capture it immediately. “Out of the human mouth and into the heart…” Think about that.

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LGBTQA – The New Alphabet

Not that long ago I felt like I had a mouth full of marbles just trying to get four letters to roll off the tongue — LGBT; I kind of knew what each letter of the acronym stood for but didn’t totally feel comfortable with any of them. To clarify, I wasn’t uncomfortable with the diversity of sexual preference or the fact that as people we all have the right to love whomever we choose. It was more about truly understanding what the letters represented, deep down, to those who identified with one or more of them.

For those who are unsure, I offer a primer:

L = lesbian; G = gay; B = bisexual; T = transgender; Q = questioning or queer (depending on who you are speaking to); A = ally

I will get to the “Q” another time. For now, it’s the “T” that is so significant. A transgender individual is one who identifies as a gender other than the one he/she is born with. So, FTM, is someone who was born with female genitalia but affirms as male. MTF is an individual born with male genitalia and identifes as female. We are so programmed to categorize humans as one of two genders. In trans people, the brain and the body are going in different directions. We are learning that not all of us are fit the two gender world we’ve been brought up in.

OK — enough of the wiki for now.

I have to say, I wasn’t shocked when Hunter came out to me. There were little signs all along that seemed to go beyond the “she’s just a tomboy” phase. What does shock me is when parents confess that they were completely “shocked, blown away, had no idea” when their son/daughter affirmed the opposite gender. How, as parents, can we be so out of touch with our children?

Of course, from the moment they are born, we begin formulating our dreams for their future. Who will they be? Will they find professional success? Fall in love? Give me grandchildren? I need to remind myself constantly that these are MY dreams for the life of another. THE MOST IMPORTANT for me — and I remind myself daily — is that I want my children to grow up to be happy, healthy, productive human beings. We need to look at the whole child emotionally, physically, psychologically — they are more than our dreams, more than a GPA and so much more than we often give them credit.  If the path to get there is a little crooked and marred by hurdles and detours, then so be it.