Parenting in a queer family comes in many different forms. Some families have children who have come out, while in other families the parents are queer, or even both. This parenting column is for parents on either side of that coin and is meant to be both informational and entertaining. As a straight, cis-gendered parent of a Trans son and twin daughters who have come out as lesbian and bi-sexual, I have a unique position of personal growth and understanding of what it takes to be an ally to love and support my children. Like all parents my parenting goal is to raise healthy, happy, confident adults.
My mission for this Queer Parenting column is that LGBTQ+ families have a place for information and insight within LGBTQ San Diego County News. Whether you are a Gay or Trans person who desires to one day be a parent or already are one, or you’re a straight parent who learned of their child’s coming out and want to be an ally, this column is for you. This column will introduce resources you may have not thought of, or it might introduce an issue that has come up for me as a parent of queer kiddos. Hopefully this column will offer some entertainment and lighthearted information about the fun and joy that comes with parenting in a queer family.
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE AN ALLY?
My 14-year-old son wanted to go to his first Pride Parade and so I put on my flashiest, most colorful dress and asked him to do my make-up for me since I do not typically wear makeup and he does. He didn’t know what he wanted to wear and was frustrated at his choices, so my makeup had to wait. Many of today’s Trans teens dress in the way “goth” teens dressed back in my teen years in San Diego two decades ago: Black hair, black nails, black fishnet stockings, black hoodies, black eyeliner, just black. So we went to the store, well three stores, for last minute wardrobe necessities early that morning so that he could feel confident and ready for his first real Pride event. I didn’t intentionally wait this long to expose my kid to a Pride Parade, but he came out only a little more than a year before this.
As we waited for the parade to begin, we sat in a coffee shop to sip on some lattes and use the restroom before entering the crowd and waiting on porta potties. As I sipped from a rainbow lined ceramic mug my son whipped out a palette of rainbow eyeshadow and started telling me how to hold still so he could blend the colors just right. I look at my beautiful Trans son. He was assigned female at birth and had not worn a dress or a skirt in over a year now. Today he wore a black mini skirt and black fishnet stockings with a skull design mesh. His shoes were Doc Martin’s, nails painted black, black short hair he cut himself and bright red lipstick. The only rainbow he wore was a chain necklace.
The day before we met a carney of sorts who offered us a gig selling Pride merch during the parade. He said we’d make 25% commission and that last year everyone who worked made $500! What a treat for a teenager who was not old enough yet to work. We took him up on his offer and met around the corner from the coffee shop where sure enough several Trans and Gay people were setting up their carts with Pride merch to push through the already colorful crowd to sell. Since I was the adult, my son became my assistant, however I wanted him to be able to earn the money (since he has such an expensive style). We were extremely lucky to have two of us working and we had high hopes for our sales, but mostly we were just there to have fun and celebrate.
I opened a rainbow handkerchief and tied it around my neck to bring my dress and spectrum of eye shadows together. We took off with our cart into the wave of rainbow flooding the streets. Beautiful queer families came out from every direction to buy merch from our cart. We were getting swarmed, but we were having a total blast seeing dads of queer kids wearing shirts offering “Dad hugs” and other teens dressed just like mine. My son got so into it and became a salesman connecting to his audience and his sense of belonging was palpable.
Thousands of queer families and allies in the streets celebrating proved to me that I had been doing the right thing for my son. As a parent ally, I also felt like this was such a beautiful experience seeing other like-minded parents supporting their kids. We also saw swarms of queer couples with kids rejoicing, dancing, and simply normalizing the queer family.
My step counter on my phone continued to multiply and we followed the entire parade route without realizing how far we walked pushing around a heavy cart of merchandise. Sales slowed down but continued as we worked our way back to our starting point. Our merchandise was dwindling. We sold out of many items. Upon our return we realized we were the last to join our team. We obviously outsold the others, and we successfully broke records with our sales. Not only did we have fun, but my kid earned over $500!
Money and financial support, however, is not what contributes to being an ally to our children. What counted was quality time together doing something that my child wanted to do and in a place that made him feel welcome and wanted. Being an ally means much more than physically being with your child to support them. We also build up their confidence and help them find opportunities for growth as well as holding the unique responsibility of doing our part to make the world a better place for our queer loved ones and children to grow up in. While we do this, we seek out issues that are important to the LGBTQ+ community, we speak out against discrimination, we encourage friends and family members to learn the facts and become allies, and we visibly support the community.