Apple, radius of falling from tree, etc.

The other day, my son let me know he was bisexual. He did it as an aside in a text message as if he was relating his dislike for capers while ordering something containing them at a restaurant. Real smooth-like.

I can’t say I’m very surprised. A little over two years ago, late on the night President Obama was reelected and the Minnesota Marriage Amendment (which would have defined marriage in the state constitution in the heteronormative way even though state law already said the same thing) went down in defeat1, he told me he was gay. The amendment had been topic number one for some time as the election neared and he knew I was vehemently against it. I suppose, in the light of that apparent support and open-mindedness about alternative sexuality, he decided to tell me about his homosexuality. He did so, with some emotion and trepidation.

Problem is, I didn’t believe him. Not for a second. I know gay. I am really familiar with gay kids, too, having been surrounded with them at one point in my life. I also pride myself on having a honed gaydar. None of that gave me the idea he was at all gay. But you don’t tell your kid who’s just done this emotional thing that he’s wrong. You tell him you love him as he is and always will and only want him to find happiness in the world. Then you hug him and tell him to go to bed because he has school in the morning.

After that, he demonstrated zero percent gayness. He dated a handful of girls, one seriously (and recently), and (as far as I could tell) no boys. We never discussed the gay thing again. Just left it out there, sitting. Then came the bisexual declaration.

I wanted to tell him he was doing it backward. Common practice is to identify as bi first then gay. Bisexuality is a station, not a destination. He was doing it wrong.2 But I didn’t. I didn’t say much of anything, really. Didn’t want to make too big a deal of it. He certainly wasn’t. Last night, he did it again for Belle with me sitting there. Kinda of like, “Did I mention the bisexuality thing? Or didn’t I?” Again, no big deal. No great unveiling. Just supportive recognition.

This is complicated for me. I’ve never talked to him about my sexuality, though I have blogged about it on my muggle blog (with its occasional tiny blip of readership) and he knows about that blog and may have read what I wrote there. He’s never asked. On the one hand, I feel like I need to tell him something. On the other, he’s already about 20 years ahead of where I was at his age. He’s out at school where I’m told it’s no big deal and now he’s out at home. No big deal. I recall how badly I wanted my dad to talk to me about his sex life when I was sixteen (read: NOT AT ALL), so even though he’s not going to follow the standard path and he’s apparently not going to follow my path, he is definitely on a path and is showing little sign of needing someone to show him his way.

Of course, this makes me proud of him. And a little in awe. I see a lot of me in him, but he’s got a lot of his mom, too, and the combination is formidable and more than either of us, I think. One day, he will lead people. He seems destined to do it. He will deserve to do it. I doubt he’ll ever be apologizing to anyone for who he is nor should he. Such incredible potential.

As it stands, I doubt I’ll talk to him about being bi for a while. He just doesn’t seem to need it. Of course, he doesn’t have all the answers yet, but part of being young is finding those yourself. There’s only so much listening to his dad any boy will do even when he isn’t talking about sex. Whatever Belle and I have been doing for him so far seems to be working.

I did set him up with his own subscription to Dan Savage’s Savage Lovecast.  He’s just sixteen but he’s a mature sixteen (looks and acts twenty) and I could only have wished at that age to have had a resource like Dan. I think it will be important and ultimately healthy for him to be exposed to the full breadth and depth of the human sexual condition that is regularly featured on the Lovecast. I can’t say that Saturday was the exact best moment to do it, but waiting until he was an “adult” would be far too long. There are so many things he needs to know and none of his friends are going to know them any better than he does and I doubt he’ll get much from the school other than the official line (and he’ll only come to me under extreme duress, I’m sure). In any event, I deemed him ready for it. Hopefully, he gives it a listen.

Now all I have to do is start steeling myself for when his sister gets to be that age. <insert wide-eyed and terror-filled emoticon here>

1 And which led to a Democratic take-over of the statehouse and, ultimately, marriage equity in the state.
2 NO, of course I don’t really believe that.

11 Replies to “Apple, radius of falling from tree, etc.”

  1. This is so great, and a testament to wonderful parenting.

    I got ‘the sex-life talk’ from my Dad when I was about 17. On sexuality, he said “Are you a lesbian?” (I was in a relationship with a girl at the time). I said, “I don’t know.” He nodded. We never talked about it again.

    AFTER the talk (which was short and awkward and surprisingly liberal), I told him he did a good job with it because we NEVER discussed such topics in our house and I imagined him and my mother angsting over it for ages beforehand laugh. Bless ’em.


  2. Your kids are SO lucky to have such cool parents! I learned about sex from reading back issues of my older sister’s ‘Cosmopolitan’ magazines, which she used to leave in the bathroom (‘Teach Your Man about the G-Spot!’). Sad, but true.

  3. Just want to mention that Dan has linked to this page or the chastity fora once or twice, so are you prepared for your kid to ask you if this is, in fact, you?

    1. If it turns out that way.

      While he did link here one from his blog quite a while back, not his column, and hasn’t mentioned it on his podcast, chances are low. But I have thought about it and not just with him.

  4. I love this story so much. And, having been an awkward bi kid (took me longer to sort it out than your son!) I kind of wish one of my parents were also bi and had told me. That my grandmother may have been (from things she wrote and things she had in her library) has always been a comfort to me, though I’m sad I never had a chance to ask while she was alive.

    So basically you may be underestimating what your son wants to know–not the bedroom details, of course, but it’s possible that (maybe later on, I don’t know) he’ll be glad to know you’re bisexual too.

    Anyway. It sounds like you rock as a dad. 🙂

  5. I’m troubled by this: Bisexuality is a station, not a destination.
    First of all the metaphor sucks.
    Secondly, why is bisexuality any less of a “destination” than gay or straight? Do you think that bi folks are only on a layover on their way to Unisexuality?
    If anything, my bisexuality is a train that stops all over the place. Local. May even be pansexual, but haven’t stopped there yet.
    Maybe you can say more about what you meant.
    Other than that, I’m enjoying your blog very much.

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